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Conjunctions are used to connect words or constructions. You should simply keep in mind that the most common conjunctions are AND, BUT, OR, which are used to connect units (nouns, phrases, gerunds, and clauses) of equal status and function. The other conjunctions, BECAUSE, IF, ALTHOUGH, AS, connect a subordinate clause to its superordinate clause, as in ``We did it BECAUSE he told us to.''
Generally don't begin sentences with conjunctions- however is better than but for this, but it goes best after semicolons. Or use the adverb instead.
Correlative expressions such as either/or, neither/nor, both/and, not only/but also and not/but should all correlate ideas expressed with the same grammatical construction.
Special care has to be taken with clauses: only clauses of the same kind can be joined with a conjunction. Similarly, a phrase cannot be joined to a clause.
American usage is extremely fastidious in making constructions parallel, and this is another one of the common tricks in the Sentence Correction questions. Keep a lookout for conjunctions and lists, and you will be able to catch these errors.
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