Coordinators have some semantic implications in the sentences of English in which they appear. There are three of them: and, but, or. All these have implications when it comes to making meaning of utterances. The post (What is a Coordinator? Semantic Implications with Types and Examples) consider each of the semantic implications of these coordinators.
What is a Coordinator? Semantic Implications with Types and Examples
As noted that there are three coordinating conjunctions or coordinators in English, we will begin with the consideration of the semantic implications of ‘and’…
Semantic Implications of AND
The coordinating conjunction ‘and’ is also a signal word that has an additive usage. It denotes a relationship between the context of clauses and its semantic implications include the following:
1. The event in the second clause is a consequence or result of the event in the first clause.
- He secured admission and became serious.
- He got married and became focused.
- He saw the advancing herdsmen and ran for his dear life.
2. The event in the second clause is chronologically sequent to the event in the first clause.
- He started the car and drove off.
- He got up from the bed, had a bath and left for the office.
- He sliced the bread and buttered it.
3. The second clause introduces a contrast as we have in the following instances:
- She is loquacious and her brother is reserved.
- His wife drives a car and he rides a bicycle.
- He has two cars and he likes to trek.
Note: ‘and’ in this context could be replaced by ‘but’ when this implication is present; that is the contrastive implication.
4. The second clause is a comment on the first clause.
- The thieves are not cooperating and that is not surprising.
- The people did not cheerfully welcome the president and that is expected.
- She refused to collect the money and that is understandable
More Semantic Implications of AND
5. The second clause introduces an element of surprise in view of the content of the first clause.
- He studied hard and he failed. (‘and’ – yet – he failed’ – surprise) The second clause is more of a surprise than a contrastive element.
- He had all his papers and was deported.
- She leant all the skills and could not apply any of them.
6. The first clause is a condition of the second clause.
Consider these examples:
- Give me some money and I will go with you.
- Show me how to do it and I will see the governor on your behalf.
- Complete your degree first and we will get you a decent job.
7. The second clause makes a point similar to the first on.
- The man is temperamental and (also) he is aggressive.
- We could provide a decent accommodation and (similarly) a chauffeur could be hired to take you around.
- She could invite her sister abroad on a visit and she could (equally) buy her the equipment she needs.
8. The second clause is a pure addition to the first clause.
Consider these instances:
- My father is a scientist and (also) sings well.
- She wears a low cut and (also) drives a Bentley.
- He is a professor and (also) a music director.
Semantic Implications of BUT
1. The contrast may be because what is said in the second clause is unexpressed in view of what is said in the first clause.
Let us illustrate this:
- The girl is lively but she keeps to herself.
- George is gifted but he is poor.
- He did not want their help but he had to accept it.
2. The contrast may be a real statement in affirmative term of what had been said or implied negatively in the first clause.
- The team did not waste time months before the match but trained very hard every evening.
- Sally did not discriminate at all but identified with the village people.
- We did not sleep for weeks but kept watch over the neighbourhood.
Semantic Implications of OR
This coordinating conjunction is exclusive in nature as it denotes choice or alternative. The semantic implications include the following:
1. It expresses the idea that one can only realise one of the possibilities available.
- You can sleep in my house or go to a hotel or you can return to Miami tonight.
- I can call him on phone or speak to him in person.
- They have the privilege to either speak with the president or meet with the governor.
2. Sometimes, OR is understood as inclusive, allowing the realisation of a combination of the alternates and it is possible to explicitly include a third possibility by introducing a third clause.
Let us illustrate this:
- You can boil an egg or make sandwiches or do both.
- She could send a mail or place a call or use both channels.
- The kids can visit a mall or see a movie or do the two.
More Semantic Implications of OR
3. The alternative expressed by OR may be a restatement or a correction of what is said in the first conjoin.
- The boys are enjoying themselves or, at least, they appeared to be so.
- The man started his educational career in Norway or, at least, started elementary school in Norway.
- The girls are fond of children or, at least, they wish to be mothers.
4. Another semantic implication of the coordinating conjunction OR is that it expresses a negative condition.
- Give me your money or I shoot!
- Kill the goat with a knife or break its head with a club.
- He was advised to serve the prison term or be deported.
What to Note
Sometimes, the conjunction else, which connotes otherwise, could replace the coordinator or in this context or both could be used together. Consider these sentences:
- The predator would have to leave its habitat, (or) else it would also become extinct.
- Have it ready by tomorrow, (or) else I will sack you!
- Go away, (or) else I’ll call the police!
This post examines the semantic implications of the three coordinating conjunctions that we have in English. You can check the post of Subordination and Coordination for more understanding on their meanings, types with illustrative examples. You can also see the post on Conjunctions and the Clauses in English which coordinators and subordinators usually join together serving either as linkers or as binders. Kindly share this post and send us your comments and questions.