Certain adverbs have a meaning that draws a connection between one idea that is being expressed and another idea that comes immediately afterward.  These adverbs are often called “conjunctive adverbs” because of this ability to connect ideas. (The prefix “con-” means “together,” and “junct” means “join.”) For example, the adverb “however” indicates that there is a contrast or a conflict between the first idea being expressed and the idea that comes after it.  (“A severe thunderstorm hit the area last night.  However, there was minimal damage.”)

The adverbs “furthermore” and “moreover” indicate that there is more to be said than what was just said.  The adverb “consequently” indicates that the second thing being introduced comes later in time than the first thing and is caused by it.  (“The soldiers were not prepared for another attack; consequently, they were unable to adequately defend themselves.”)

Although conjunctive adverbs link ideas, it’s important to note that they don’t make a grammatical  link between clauses. That is, they are still only adverbs, not conjunctions. They can’t take the grammatical place of words like “and,” “but,” or “so,” and they are often used together with one or the other of these.  (“The new highway was still under construction, and therefore an alternate route had to be found.”)

Punctuation

Conjunctive adverbs often begin new sentences and are often followed by a comma:  Meanwhile, the boys were upstairs sleeping.”  “Finally, the passengers were allowed to re-board the plane.”  In addition, conjunctive adverbs may directly follow an independent clause ending with a semicolon, as in some of the examples below.  Note that a comma rather than a semi-colon would be incorrect in punctuating these sentences that use semicolons.  This is because a semicolon has the power to link one independent clause with another, while a comma alone does not have that power.  

Note the examples with “accordingly” below. The final examples are correct because they contain the conjunction “and” after the comma following the word “storm.”  It is that conjunction, not the comma or the conjunctive adverb, that creates the necessary grammatical link between the two clauses.

When conjunctive adverbs follow a conjunction, they can be set off by commas–one comma before the adverb and one comma after it–as in the final correct example above with “accordingly.”  Alternatively, the commas can be omitted as in the example that precedes this. When commas are inserted, they create pauses in the reading and serve to highlight the adverb.

Additional examples of conjunctive adverbs

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