Extraverts and Introverts

There are extroverts and there are introverts—equals in life, just with different ways of having their “batteries” recharged.

The extrovert is energized in social gatherings of larger groups and may mistakenly be thought of as “the life of the party.” Well, they may indeed be, but no less than the introvert who is energized in times of solitude and is really no less a party animal than the extrovert.

Understanding the characteristics of these two personality types is invaluable when navigating in relationships.

Vive le difference! (Or is that speaking of the sexes?)

In the world of syntax, grammatical relationships within sentences, there are extroverts and there are introverts.

The extroverts belong to a family of conjunctions known as joiners. These are coordinating conjunctions (a.k.a. FANBOYS): for, and, nor, but, or, yet and so.

Jimmy is a great baseball player, and his mom and dad are proud of him.

In the previous sentence, “and” is the coordinating conjunction. Notice that it joins two completely independent clauses (each could stand on its own).

You almost always put a comma before coordinating conjunctions; except, of course, if House Style says otherwise.

In What’s Up Yukon, we minimize comma use because it makes for easier reading in our two-inch columns; therefore, commas are not used before coordinating conjunctions (FANBOYS) unless required to avoid ambiguity or if the writer wants the reader to pause for effect.

In other words, in the preceding sentence about Jimmy, we would omit the comma before and.

Other members of the conjunction family, conjunctive adverbs, make an appearance mid-sentence and are preceded by a semicolon and followed by a comma.

I disdain sweet things; nevertheless, I decided it was more important to please my friend than worry about my waistline.

The following is correct, as well: I disdain sweet things. Nevertheless, I decided …

The choice of one or the other really depends on how closely linked you feel the two sentences are.

However, when a conjunctive adverb appears at the beginning of a sentence (as it does in this sentence), it is almost always followed by a comma. If you read the sentence out loud, your ear will often tell you when a comma is called for.

However you put it, it just does not make sense (no comma after “however”).

Semicolons are not used before FANBOYS, but are before conjunctive adverbs, such as nevertheless, however, incidentally, indeed, instead and their many cousins.

Then there are those introverted cousins—the subordinating conjunctions—that need a little encouragement to join in, at times, but without them the sentence wouldn’t be the same; in fact, it would be incomplete.

Words such as after, because, before, if, as long as and are, are all part of this group.

After I indulge in such sweet delights, I must brush my teeth.

“After” is the subordinating introvert of the sentence: it begins a subordinate clause; it does not prefer the limelight of the main clause. But these conjunctions are essential; they enrich relationships within sentences.

Part of the beauty, the fascination and, at times, the frustration of the English language is syntax: the role that words play in sentences.

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