FANBOYS in ESL: Teaching Conjunctions

FANBOYS in ESL classes or linguistics is a great mnemonic device to remember your coordinating conjunctions.

What does ‘fanboys’ stand for?

Fanboys stands for: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.

These small words are called coordinating conjunctions

What is a coordinating conjunction?

FANBOYS in ESL classes help us remember coordinating conjunctions, which are words that join two elements. Think of them as the links between two train cars. They connect two elements that are equally important grammatically. If you have two thoughts, and both are equally important, you can connect them with a coordinating conjunction.

So, what if the two clauses are not equally grammatically relevant? Well, then you need to use a “subordinating conjunction.”

Subordinating vs. coordinating conjunctions

What is the difference between subordinating and coordinating conjunctions?

Coordinating conjunctions join two words, clauses, or sentences of the same grammatical relevance. A subordinating conjunction implies a linking word that joins the dependent clause with an independent clause.

FANBOYS : examples

FANBOYS (coordinating conjunctions) are great for connecting two independent clauses, as below:

For example:

  1. He is hungry. 2. He eats an apple. -> He is hungry, so he eats an apple.
  2. I like sugary. 2. It is not good for me.-> I like sugar, but it is not good for me.

Can coordinating conjunctions connect more than independent clauses?

Yes, FANBOYS can join more than just independent clauses. Coordinating conjunctions can also join two verbs, two nouns, two adjectives, two phrases, or two independent clauses

There are seven coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.

FANBOYS: fun ways to teach coordinating conjunctions

There are many fun ways to teach FANBOYS. If you are looking for engaging ways to teach coordinating conjunctions to young students, consider these games below:

1. FANBOYS Bingo

If you are looking for a great way to teach or remember the conjunctions in English, try teaching your students: FANBOYS and then play some “Coordinating Conjunction Bingo” from The Language Artists.

2. Sing FANBOYS Songs

Remember, “Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?” The classic Jack Sheldon favorite from Schoolhouse Rock? Play it for your students. They will love it!

Check out my blog posts for fun ESL songs. They’ll at some fun energy to your lessons. I shared my favorite ones here Top ESL Songs: Best Songs to teach English.

3. Make a FANBOYS Spinner Wheel

Make a FANBOYS spinner wheel and have students create fun sentences.

Check out “Wordwall” to make some interactive FANBOYS spinner wheels, or just make your own from a paper plate and a pencil. Spin the wheel and make some sentences!

You can write some simple sentences on pieces of paper and put them in a hat. Then, have students pull them out.

Spin the wheel and make some compound sentences. If the sentence makes sense, the student gets the point. Whoever gets the most points wins!

And, as always, happy teaching!

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Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL
Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL

Ingrid Maria Pimsner has been teaching for over a decade in various universities, nonprofits, and private academies. She has taught English as a Second Language for Lutheran Children & Family Service, Nationalities Service Center, Lernstudio Barbarossa Berlin-Tegel, and more. In addition to her Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certification, she holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a MA from Maryland Institute College of Art.