Bitesize STE – Essentials 8: Conjunctions

Bitesize STE is written by Ciaran Dodd, course director for Mekon’s Simplified Technical English (STE) training course. In our latest Bitesize STE Ciaran takes a closer look at conjunctions.

As part of our two-day Introduction to STE course, we review some essentials of grammar that you have to know to understand the rules of STE. In the last few issues of Bitesize, we’ve explained the different parts of speech and why you need to know them in order to write well in STE.

What is a conjunction?

A word or phrase that connects words, phrases and clauses.” (2-0-4, ASD-STE100, 2017) Common examples used in STE are: ‘but’, ‘and’, ‘until’, ‘if’.

The STE definition says that conjunctions connect words, phrases and clauses. These two sentences from the specification illustrate how ‘and’ performs these functions.

Complex sentence structure and¹ the large number of meanings and² synonyms that many English words have can cause confusion.”

On June 30, 1983, in Amsterdam, the AECMA Simplified English Working Group was founded and³ the AECMA Simplified English project started.” (Both sentences from page i, ASD-STE100, 2017)

and¹ connects the phrase about meanings to the opening phrase about complex sentences.
and² connects the words ‘meanings’ and ‘synonyms’.
and³ connects the two clauses that describe two actions that took place on 30 June 1983.

Phrases and clauses are both groups of words but a clause contains a verb and a noun and can be a complete, simple sentence:
Tighten the nuts.” (2-1-B9, ASD-STE100, 2107)

There are two types of conjunctions: coordinating and subordinating conjunctions. A coordinating conjunction joins two clauses that are simple sentences that could each stand alone as separate sentences:
Tighten the nuts. Do not torque them at this time.” (2-1-B9, ASD-STE100, 2107)

The full sentence (in the approved example for ‘but’) reads: “Tighten the nuts but do not torque them at this time.” While the separate clauses make sense as separate sentences, they better express the writer’s emphasis with the conjunction, ‘but’.

A subordinating conjunction, for example ‘if’, occurs where you have a main clause (that can stand by itself as a sentence) with a dependent clause or subordinate clause (that cannot stand by itself as a sentence.)

If you use a replacement fairing plate [the dependent clause], cut the fairing plate to get the correct dimension. [the main clause] ” (2-1-I1, ASD-STE100, 2017)

Conjunctions are most important in STE in descriptive writing, best described in here:

You can use connecting words and phrases to help the reader understand the progression of ideas in the text. They function as traffic signs and they tell the reader if the information is new, or different, or a conclusion based on preceding facts.” (1-6-2, ASD-STE100, 2017)

The worked examples in the specification that explain this concept are excellent explanations of how any writing, not just technical, can be well-structured for readers. Descriptive writing in STE is particularly challenging because the writer must create the structure using carefully constructed sentences and paragraphs. Procedural writing is easier to construct because the task that you are describing gives structure to the steps that you write. This is why STE carefully explains how to write well-structured sentences and paragraphs that use connecting words, including conjunctions, to help the reader to follow the logic of the writer’s thoughts.

There is also a mention of the conjunction ‘that’ in the general recommendations in section 9. ‘That’ is a subordinating conjunction that adds additional information, particularly after words like:
• ‘make sure’
• ‘show’
• ‘recommend’

Consider this sentence: “Make sure that the work area is clean.”
We could write this sentence without ‘that’. It would be acceptable but it is clearer to include the conjunction, particularly for non-native speakers of English. Thus, the general recommendation is to use the conjunction ‘that’ when you write these sentences. (1-9-9, ASD-STE100, 2017)

View all Bitesize STE

And that brings us to the end of our series on the essentials of grammar. If there is anything you’d like to read about STE, please email   with your suggestions. Otherwise, as we near the festive season and the end of the year, I’d like to wish you all the best for the holiday season and for 2018.

Looking for Simplified Technical English (STE) Training?

Book your place on one of our Simplified Technical English training courses. Our Simplified Technical English Training course is a practical introduction for those who will use Simplified Technical English (formerly AECMA Simplified English).

The course introduces the philosophy of Simplified Technical English, explains the underlying grammatical principles and gives delegates opportunities to use Simplified Technical English in practical exercises. These exercises can be based on your company’s documentation.

Find out more about our Simplified Technical English Specification: ASD-STE100 training delivered by Ciaran or email

About Ciaran

“Who is your audience and what do they need?”
“How do you meet those needs efficiently, cost effectively and to a high standard?”

Ciaran Dodd has been ensuring that clients address both of these questions using ASD Simplified Technical English (ASD-STE100) since 2002, after being trained by the United Kingdom’s ASD-STE100 co-ordinator in 2001. Ciaran started her career in training at Rolls-Royce, which is where she became involved in training all aspects of writing, including ASD-STE100. After leaving the organisation, Ciaran set up an independent consultancy specialising in communication and learning skills. She has extensive experience of working with major names in engineering; particularly in defence aerospace and the automotive industries.

Ciaran is a qualified trainer, teacher and teacher of English as a foreign language. After completing a law degree at Cambridge University, she taught English in a Chinese university for two years. She has taught all aspects of the English language in commercial and public organisations since 1994.