Is When A Conjunction? 5 Facts(When, Why & Examples)


In English grammar, there are some words that are used to connect words, phrases, and clauses that fall into the category of conjunctions. Here we shall examine ‘when’ as conjunction.

The word ‘when‘ is a conjunction. It can be used in a sentence to join two opposite clauses and frames a single sentence.

Let us explain with some more interesting facts when and why the word ‘when’ can function as a conjunction.

When is ‘when’ a conjunction?

We have already come to know that ‘when’ can be used as a conjunction. Here we will examine ‘when’ as a conjunction.

The word ‘when’ acts as a conjunction when it is used to join two clauses-the main clause and a subordinate clause. is used as a conjunction. It means ‘at the time that’ when it is used as a conjunction.

Look at the table below.

SituationsExamplesExplanations
1. We use ‘when’ to show at the time that something happens.I take an umbrella when I go out in the sun.Here the word ‘when’ is used as a conjunction to show at the time something happens.
2. ‘When’ is used to talk about a particular time or situation.Can you tell me the time when Jack stood by you?In this scenario, it is seen that ‘when’ acts as a conjunction and it shows a particular time.
3.  ‘When’ can be used to say about a particular point of time when something is happening.Upasana was at her friend’s house when it was raining.In this example, the word ‘when’ is used to show a point in time when something was happening.
4. We use ‘when’ to show a situation that makes someone surprised.Raghab went on singing when everyone was stunned.Here we see that the word ‘when’ is used to show when something makes a surprise.
Examples of ‘when’ as a conjunction

Why is ‘when’ a subordinating conjunction?

Now we shall explain why the word ‘when’ is a subordinating conjunction, not a coordinating conjunction.

The word ‘when’ is a subordinate conjunction. because it introduces a subordinate clause. Any conjunction that introduces a subordinate clause is a subordinating conjunction. ‘When’ connects the main clause with the dependent clause to frame a complex sentence.

Example- The students stood up when the teacher entered the class.

Explanation- In this example the word joins the main clause ‘the students stood up’ and the subclause ‘the teacher entered the class’ thereby making a complex sentence.

Examples of ‘when’ as subordinating conjunctions:

Let us realize the subordinate conjunction ‘when’ going through the following examples.

The following table deals with the sentences where the word ‘when’ is used as subordinate conjunctions.

Examples Explanations
1. My brother does not talk when I read.In this sentence, the word ‘when’ acts as a subordinate conjunction.
2. Nobody was there when we went to the market.Here we see that the main clause is joined with a sub-clause the word ‘when’.
3. My grandfather was not alive when I was born.Here the main clause ‘my father was alive’ is connected with the sub-clause ‘I was born with the word ‘when’.
4. The manager got angry when they were enquiring about the fees.In this example, the word ‘when’ joins the two opposite clauses and frames a complex sentence.
5. Subir was reading English when his friend came to meet him.Here the word ‘when’ joins the main clause ‘Subir was reading English’ with the subclause ‘his friend came to meet him.
Examples of ‘when’ as subordinating conjunction

When is ‘when’ not considered as conjunctions?

The word ‘when’ acts as other parts of speech apart from conjunction. Let us identify how the word ‘when’ functions rather than a conjunction.

The word ‘when’ is not considered a conjunction when it is used as an adverb rather than a conjunction. We can use it to modify the verb of the main clause. In this way, it is used as an adverb besides conjunction. 

Look at the table when the word ‘when’ is not used as a conjunction.

SituationsExamplesExplanations
1. ‘When’ as a question adverb.When will you return my book?Here the word ‘when’ is used as a question adverb to frame a question.
2. ‘When’ as a relative adverb.My happiest moment was when I got a present from my mother.In this sentence, the word acts as a relative adverb by introducing a relative clause.
Examples of ‘when’ not considered as conjunctions

Examples of ‘when’ not considered as conjunctions:

Follow the sentences where the word ‘when’ is not used as conjunctions.

Examples Explanations
1. When did Subhas arrive at the destination?In this sentence, the word ‘when’ is used as an interrogative adverb as it frames a question.
2. Tell me the time when you will come to my house?Here ‘when’ is used as a relative adverb and it introduces the main clause ‘tell me the time’.
3. When will the train depart the station?Here it is found that ‘when’ has been used as a question adverb and acts likewise by making a question. 
Examples of ‘when’ not considered as conjunctions

Conclusion

The article contains the functions of the word ‘when’ in sentences. The detailed discussion and explanations will definitely guide us while framing sentences.

Goutam Datta

Hi.... I am Goutam Datta. I have completed a double M. A. in English and B. Ed. I am a creative writer. Currently, I am a part of the LambdaGeeks. Let's connect through LinkedIn-https://www.linkedin.com/in/goutam-datta-9824b5249

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