How to form English sentences with NOT ONLY + BUT ALSO

Advanced English Grammar Course


Hello students! It’s Shayna, your teacher from Today, I’m going to teach you how to form sentences with the construction not only, but also.

First of all, when do we use not only, but also? Well, we use it when we have two things and we want to give a little extra emphasis to the second thing because it’s even better, or even worse, or more surprising, or more impressive, or more shocking than the first thing. I think you’ll see as I give examples throughout this lesson.

There are two ways to use not only, but also. You can use it in the middle and end of the sentence, or you can actually use it to start a sentence with not only. There are some grammatical considerations we have to keep in mind.

Okay, so using not only, but also in the middle and end of a sentence I can say, “I’ve taught English not only in the U.S., but also in other countries.” Or you could say, let’s say you’re talking about someone who is a model. You could say, “She’s not only beautiful, but also very smart.”

As you can see in both of these examples, the second part, the part that comes after “but also” is just a little more interesting or better than the first part, so we just want to give a little extra emphasis. Because, of course, you could simply say, “She’s beautiful and smart.” That’s just neutral. But if you say, “She’s not only beautiful, but also smart,” it kind of gives a little bit of extra emphasis to that second part; being smart.

Now, the key if you use not only, but also like this, is that the two parts of the sentence have to be parallel. If you use an adjective after not only, you need to use an adjective after but also. So, beautiful and smart, those are both adjectives. “She’s not only beautiful, but also very smart.”

It would sound strange if you said, “She’s not only beautiful, but also a singer,” because beautiful is an adjective, and a singer is a noun, and it’s not parallel. You could have two nouns. You could say, “She’s not only a model, but also a singer.” That would be all right. That sounds natural, because we have a noun and a noun.

Another example of a sentence that sounds strange is, don’t say this: “He ate not only the pizza, but also the soda.” That doesn’t make sense because you eat pizza, but you don’t eat soda. You drink soda. So we can fix this sentence by using two different verbs after not only and but also. So you can say, “He not only ate the pizza, but also drank the soda.” I hope you can see that when you use not only and but also like this the two parts of the sentence need to be parallel so that it makes sense and it sounds natural.

How about using not only to start a sentence? An example of this would be, “Not only does he play guitar, but he also writes his own songs.” Now, notice in the first part of the sentence we don’t say, “Not only he plays.” We actually have an auxiliary verb: does. We say, “Not only does he play guitar.” This is just a special thing that we do with not only, but also sentences. Normally, we would say, “He plays guitar.” But when you start it with not only, you say, “Not only does he play guitar, he also writes his own songs.” In sentences like this that start with not only, the but is optional. Some people eliminate it and just say, “He also writes his own songs.”

That’s an example in the present tense. If we’re talking about the past, we can also use this construction, but now we need to use the auxiliary verb, did in the past. So, “Not only did she fail the course, but she also dropped out of college.” That means she completely left the program of studies. “Not only did she fail.” Don’t say, “Not only she failed.” “Not only did she fail the course, but she also dropped out of college.” Okay? The second part of the sentence is normal. After but also, just use the simple past. You don’t need to use an auxiliary verb there.

You can also use this construction in the future. “Not only will you learn grammar in my advanced English grammar course, you’ll also put it into practice.” In this case, the auxiliary verb is “will”. “Not only will you learn grammar, but you’ll also,” or, “you’ll also put it into practice.” And this is true, by the way! So why don’t you try writing a couple of not only, but also sentences in the comments based on what you learned in today’s lesson?

As I mentioned, if you’d like to get more practice with grammar, check out my Advanced English Grammar Course, because it’s designed, as I said, not only for you to learn about grammar, because you don’t just want to learn about English. You don’t just want to have an intellectual knowledge. You want to use it. Right? You want to speak it, and write it, and use it yourself. The grammar course helps you do that through quizzes, short answer exercises, and writing tasks so you can put that grammar into practice. Click on the link in the video for more information, and I hope to see you inside the course.

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