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Not Only But Also: Adding Emphasis and Clarity to Your Writing

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The phrase ‘not only’ is often used to introduce the first of two items in a list, and ‘but also’ is used to introduce the second. Together, ‘not only’ and ‘but also’ add emphasis and clarity to your writing, helping to make your ideas more concise and impactful.

In this article, we’ll explore the definition, usage, and useful examples of ‘not only but also’ in English. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of this powerful phrase and how to use it effectively in your own writing and speaking.

Not Only But Also

Not Only But Also


  • The construction not only….but (also) is called a correlative conjunction. It is used to connect and emphasize 2 words or 2 phrases at the same position. Both two phrases are being presented by the writer as surprising or unexpected, with the second one being even more surprising than the first. We use “not only but also” to give more information.
  • It can be used to list adjective qualities, nouns or verbs, to show complementary qualities, quantities or actions, events and states.

When to Use “Not Only But Also”

  • 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.
  • The most essential rule to remember about using this structure is that two parts of speech must be parallel.
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How to Form Sentences with “Not Only…But Also”

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.

1. Use it in the middle and end of the sentence:

S + V + not only + Adjective + but also + Adjective

For example:

  • He is not only arrogant but also selfish.
  • Tom is not only rich but also famous.
  • She was not only extremely intelligent but also very practical.

S + V + not only + Adv + but also + Adv

For example:

  • John works not only quickly but also efficiently.
  • Thomas writes not only correctly but also neatly.
  • He worked not only hard but also carefully.

S + V + not only + Noun + but also + Noun

For example:

  • She is not only a novelist but also a poet.
  • He is not only a statesman but also a man of the people.
  • Shakespeare was not only a writer but also an actor.

S + not only + V + but also + V

For example:

  • He not only studies hard but also works well.
  • She not only plays well but also writes music.
  • He not only speaks English but also French.
  • The robbers not only took his money but also laid into him.
  • She not only entered the competition but also won it!
  • He not only read the book but also remembered what he read.
  • He not only writes his own plays but also acts in them.

2. Use it at the beginning of the sentence or Inversion of Not only but also:

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We can use not only at the beginning of a clause to add emphasis. When we do this, the subject and the verb are inverted.

Not only + V/Adj/Noun/Adv + but (he/she) also + V/Adj/Noun/Adv Verb be/ aux (do/will/should/would /can/ could)

For examples:


  • Not only does he speak English but he also speaks French.
  • Not only does she speak Spanish but she also knows how to type.
  • Not only you but also I am planning to go.
  • Not only do the nurses want a pay increase but they also want reduced hours as well.

Noun phrase:

  • Not only is he handsome but (he is) also intelligent.
  • Not only is the return address on the e-mail almost certainly fraudulent but also responding to spam creates more traffic.
  • Not only will that skill help your resume but also will make you familiar with on-line job recruiting.
  • Not only was it raining all day at the wedding but also the band was late.
  • Not only will they paint the outside of the house but also the inside.

When there is no auxiliary verb or main verb be, we use do, does, did:

  • Not only did she forget my birthday, but she also didn’t even apologize for forgetting it.
  • Not only did he needlessly place himself in danger but also no charges were brought against his prisoners.

In conclusion, the phrase ‘not only but also’ is a powerful tool for adding emphasis and clarity to your writing. By understanding its definition, correct usage, and useful examples, you can confidently incorporate ‘not only but also’ into your own writing and speaking.

Related  Conjunction | Definition, Types & Rules with Useful Examples

Whether you’re writing a formal essay or having a casual conversation, ‘not only but also’ is a versatile phrase that can help you express your ideas more effectively. So don’t be afraid to use it – with a little practice, you’ll be a pro at using ‘not only but also’ in no time!

English Study Online


Sunday 4th of June 2023

Committed to answering questions based on my ability.

M Sue Aung

Friday 6th of January 2023

Exercise can help not only lower blood pressure but also protect you against heart attacks. Is this sentence true?

English Study Online

Wednesday 27th of December 2023

Yes, the sentence "Exercise can help not only lower blood pressure but also protect you against heart attacks" is grammatically correct. It effectively conveys the idea that exercise has the dual benefit of lowering blood pressure and providing protection against heart attacks.


Thursday 17th of August 2023

Yes, the sentence is grammatically correct. It follows a standard sentence structure with a subject ("Exercise"), a verb ("can help"), and two objects ("lower blood pressure" and "protect you against heart attacks"). Have a nice day!


Thursday 2nd of March 2023

@M Sue Aung, Exercise can help you not only reduce blood pressure but also protect against heart attacks.


Thursday 14th of July 2022

Thanks for helping knowledge


Thursday 14th of July 2022

Yes i agree with that


Tuesday 1st of March 2022

HI,my question is,why there are no commas before'' but'' in some sentences. MY BEST REGARDS.