TOEIC | Grammar: Conjunctions Previous   Up   Next   

TOEIC Grammar Guide – Conjunctions


Conjunctions are words that join together words, phrases or clauses. Conjunctions are used to show a relationship between the words, phrases or clauses. Conjunctions also show agreement or disagreement between ideas. There are four types of conjunctions. Only three types will be covered: coordinating, subordinating and correlative.

Learning Hint:

Memorize the most commonly used conjunctions shown below and when they are used to show relationships between words and phrases.

Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions join together words or clauses of equal importance.

They are and, but, nor, or, for, so and yet.

The coordinating conjunctions and, but, nor and or always join words or word groups of the same kind: two or more nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, phrases, independent clauses and dependent clauses.


James or Michelle will be promoted. (Two nouns joined by or.)

The chair was old but comfortable. (Two adjectives joined by but.)

Amanda worked every day and partied every night. (Two verbs joined by and.)

The conjunctions for and so cannot connect words, phrases or dependent clauses. They can only join independent clauses. For shows cause. So shows result.


She was sick, so she went to the doctor.

(Cause: She was sick. Result: She went to the doctor.)

They stayed late at the office, for they had work to do.

(Cause: They had work to do. Result: They stayed late at the office.)

While the word yet is usually used as an adverb, it can also be a conjunction. Like but, it shows contrast.


Charles works as an accountant, yet he was trained to be a lawyer.

She read through the contract carefully, yet she could not understand it all.

Note: Whatever is joined by a coordinating conjunction must be alike.

Incorrect:           The assistant needs to edit and typing the documents.

(To edit is a verb form. Typing is a noun form.)

Correct:             The assistant needs to edit and to type the documents.

(Now the and joins two verb forms.)

Incorrect:           The manager sent a notice to all staff, but written by her assistant.

(The words before but form a clause. What follows but is only a phrase, not a clause.)

Correct:             The manager sent a notice to all staff, but her assistant wrote it.

(Her assistant wrote it is a clause. Now but joins two clauses.)

Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions join a dependent (subordinate) clause with an independent clause. They always come at the beginning of dependent clauses. Dependent clauses are used as adjectives, adverbs, and nouns. The dependent clause can be before or after the independent clause. This means a subordinating conjunction is at the beginning or middle of a sentence. These are the most common ones:



in order that









even if

rather than



as if

even though




as though


so that




Unless we start now, we will not finish on time.

Because he enjoys traveling, he became the company's sales representative.

The main office is in an old building where the alarms need to be updated.

The clerk was writing an e-mail when her computer failed.

Note: Make sure the subordinating conjunction is placed at the start of the dependent clause.

Incorrect:           After they have to go to work, their vacation ends.

Incorrect:           Their vacation ends after they have to go to work.

Correct:             After their vacation ends, they have to go back to work.

The subordinating junction after must be before the dependent clause their vacation ends. They have to go back to work is the independent clause.

Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions are pairs of coordinating conjunctions that work together. They are always used as a pair. The words, phrases, or clauses that correlative conjunctions put together must be the same type: nouns go with other nouns, verbs go with other verbs, adjectives go with other adjectives, and so on. These are the common ones:

both and

neither nor

not but

either or

not only but also

whether or

as as (example: as well as)



1. The report is either on the desk or in the copier room.

(Nouns are the type of word joined.)

2. The delivery was made neither in the morning nor in the afternoon.

(Phrases are the type of word joined.)

Note: Never use neither or and either nor.

3. Their manager doesn't laugh as often as your boss laughs.

(Two clauses are joined.)

4. Both his uncle and his cousin work in forestry.

(Nouns are the type of word joined.)

The presentation was both interesting and educational.

(Adjectives are the type of word joined.)

Note: Do not use as well as with both.

Incorrect:           My friend learned both French as well as Japanese in school.

Correct:             My friend learned both French and Japanese in school.

5. The boss is not only friendly but also very smart.

(Adjectives are the type of word joined.)

Note 1: Do not use but in place of but also.

Incorrect:           Leave behind not only your cellphone but your computer.

Correct:             Leave behind not only your cellphone but also your computer.

Note 2: Only not is grammatically wrong.

Incorrect:           They will teach only not new skills but also new knowledge.

Correct:             They will teach not only new skills but also new knowledge.

6. The company creates not hardware but software.

(Nouns are the type of word joined.)

Note: Do not use only in place of but.

Incorrect:           He should have spoken not louder only more slowly.

Correct:             He should have spoken not louder but more slowly.

TOEIC | Grammar: Conjunctions Previous   Up   Next   

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