Guide to Conjunctions in French: et, ou, ni, mais, or, car, donc

learn conjoctions in french mais ou et donc or ni car

Whenever you need to connect two ideas, you need conjunction. After you have mastered creating a phrase in French, the next step is creating a more complex one.

Today, we’ll learn the basic conjunctions of everyday French speech.

What is a conjunction?

The conjunction is an invariable word of speech that serves to connect part of speech – they link words, phrases, and clauses into more complex, related structures.

  • two words or groups

Je suis très franc et direct.

I am very outspoken and direct.

  • two or more sentences

Il a réussi le test car il a beaucoup étudié.

He has succeeded in his test because he worked a lot.

There are two types of conjunctions:

  1. Coordinating conjunctions (conjonctions de coordination) connect two equal words or clauses.
  2. Subordinating conjunctions (conjonctions de subordination) link a dependent clause to the main clause.

Coordinating conjonctions

Coordinating conjunctions connect words, groups of words, and clauses of the same function.

In all, there are 7 main coordinating conjunctions. To remember them and therefore easily identify them within a sentence, there is a well-known mnemonic trick, which is the question: “Mais ou et donc Ornicar?

This sentence helps you remember that the various coordinating conjunctions are the invariable words but, or, and, therefore, or, nor, and because.

The conjunctions are ( et, ou, ni, mais, or, car, donc)

Et – and

Prendre une douche après le travail ou à la fin d’une journée de travail.

Take a shower after using the product or at the end of a working day.

Ou – or

Préfèrez-vous que l’on aille au restaurant ce soir ou que l’on reste chez soi ?

Would you rather go to the restaurant tonight or stay home?

Ni, ni – neither, nor

Je n’aime ni le thé ni le café.

I don’t like tea nor coffee.

Mais – but

Je voulais prendre le taxi mais je n’avais pas assez de monnaie.

I wanted to take the taxi I didn’t have enough change.

Or – but, yet

Il faudrait arrived au travail à 10 heures , or, il y a trop de traffic.

I should be at work at 10h, but/and yet there’s too much traffic.

Car -because

Je nage car c’est du bon exercise.

I swim because it’s good exercise.

Donc – therefore, so

expressing cause and effect

Tu m’aimes, donc je t’aime.

You love me so I love you.

Mais ou est donc Ornicar ?

We admit it can be overwhelming at first to remember all these conjunctions in French.

Using the well-known mnemonic is perhaps the best way to learn it all, and start making complex sentences. Agnieszka Murdoch, a language coach explains in detail, how can mnemotechnique help you master any language. Read her article “How to use mnemonics to learn vocabulary in any language“.

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