Grammar 10 min read

➕ How to use Not Only But Also Like a Pro

Main Not Only But Also Takeaways:

  • Not only…but also is a correlative conjunction. This means that this construction helps convey two related facts, thoughts, or pieces of information.
  • It expresses unexpected or surprising information, with the second item being more surprising than the first.
  • Use this construction to create parallelism by following each part of the expression with the same part of speech. This helps add balance and flow to your writing.
  • In informal writing, you can omit the word also from the expression without changing the meaning of the sentence.
  • Correlative conjunctions like not only…but also don’t require commas to separate the pairs.
  • Replace not only…but also with synonyms like: moreover, besides, as well as, similarly, and equally important.
Her young daughter made friends not only in the park but also at the dentist’s office.
It’s crucial to focus not only on short-term gains but also on long-term growth.
Not only is she driven but also compassionate.

Not only but also is a two-part expression that’s used to create emphasis, convey unexpected information, or add balance to a sentence. See exactly how to use this phrase effectively with tips for parallelism and plenty of examples.

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Two boys labeled as
Not only but also is a correlative conjunction. It conveys related pieces of information.

What Does not Only but Also Mean?

Not only…but also is a way to create parallelism in a sentence. This expression is a correlative conjunction, and is useful for linking two closely connected clauses. Basically, it sets up two related elements of a sentence. You know you’re using this pairing to correctly create parallelism when the same part of speech follows each part of the phrase. For example, if a verb comes after not only, then a verb should come after but also (He not only swims, but also rows). Similarly, if a noun follows not only, then a noun should follow but also (She is not only a doctor but also a lawyer). Use this construction to convey unexpected but related information. Or, to emphasize a surprising fact.

In a sentence, the actual construct of the expression looks like this: not only thisbut also that.

Not only…but also is a correlative conjunction, or words or phrases that work together to link words, clauses, or phrases. They are similar to coordinating conjunctions but show a stronger connection between the linked ideas.
Pete not only works at the pet shop but also volunteers with a wild tiger rescue.

In this example, each part of the not only…but also expression precedes a verb phrase for parallelism.

His dog loved not only fresh green beans but also frozen zucchini.

In this example, a noun phrase follows both not only and but also to maintain parallelism.

Two boys doing a high five. Boy on the left is labeled not only and the boy on the right is labeled but also. Additional text reads: Not only... but also is a correlative conjunction. This structure helps improve flow.
Not only…but also is a correlative conjunction. This means that this construction helps convey two related facts, thoughts, or pieces of information.

How do you use Not Only in a Sentence?

You can use not only at the beginning of a clause. In this case, you should use not only followed by the verb (Not only is she sing a captivating dancer, but also a fantastic singer). You can also use not only in the middle of a sentence. In this case, there are two constructions you can can use. The first construction is: Subject + Verb + not only + but also (He made not only the decorations but also the costumes for the party). Alternatively, the second construction is: Subject + not only + Verb + but also (The investigation is not only on-going but also highly-classified).

Here are examples of how to use not only in a sentence:

Not only is the kid excellent in grammar, but she is also a whiz in math.
Not only is the chocolate ice cream a fantastic choice but also the cherry pie.
The plaid skirt not only looks good with my white blouse but also with my red sweater.
Not only did the campus newspaper dedicate their issues to the college’s most beloved professor but also the literary magazine.
He not only wants to go on a sabbatical but also wants to pursue acting.

5 Ways to Use Not Only…But Also:

  1. Not only + verb + subject…but also
  2. Not only + verb + subject…but + subject + also + verb…
  3. Subject + verb + not onlybut also + verb…
  4. Subject + not only + verb…but also
  5. Not only + verb + subject…but +subject + also
A boy labeled as not only... but also is holding a placard that shows a comma mark crossed out. Additional text reads: Correlative conjunctions don't need commas.
Correlative conjunctions like not only…but also don’t require commas to separate the pairs.

Where do you put Not Only in a Sentence?

You can put not only at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence. When you start a sentence with not only, the phrase is the beginning of an introductory clause and is acting as the first part of a correlative conjunction. As a result, not only must be followed by but also (Not only is the shuttle fast but also economical). When it appears in the middle of a sentence, not only usually comes after the subject and the verb (Their cat eats not only strawberries but also bananas). However, it can also come between the subject and the verb (Their daughter not only plays the piano but also runs track).

(At the beginning of the sentence) Not only is the shuttle fast but also economical.
(In the middle of the sentence, split subject/verb) Their daughter not only plays the piano but also runs track.
(In the middle of the sentence) Their cat not only eats strawberries but also bananas.
Pro Tip: Although but also can be split, the same doesn’t hold true for not only. The first word pair in this two-part expression should never be split.

Can you start a Sentence with Not Only?

You can start a sentence with not only, but it must be followed by not also. This is because the expression not only..but also is a correlative conjunction that helps create parallelism, or balance, in a sentence. What’s more, when you start a sentence with not only, follow the not only with a verb (Not only were they polite but also kind). Therefore, the formula for using not only at the beginning of a sentence is: Not only + verb + subject…but also + subject + verb.

Not only he forgot my birthday but also he never apologized!
Not only did he forget my birthday but also he forgot to apologize!
Not only the children are inquisitive but also clever.
Not only are the children inquisitive but also clever.
A boy named Jake shown in two scenarios. First scene shows Jake selling fruits. The second scene shows him selling vegetables. Additional text reads: Jake not only sells fruits but also vegetables.
Not only…but also is a way to create parallelism in a sentence. You know you’re using this pairing to correctly create parallelism when the same part of speech follows each part of the phrase.

Is There a Comma in Not Only But Also?

Normally, there is no comma in the construction not only…but also. This is because not only…but also is usually a correlative conjunction that helps create parallelism. Since correlative conjunctions don’t require commas to separate the pairs in the phrase, there is no comma in not only…but also (Not only did they bring drinks but also desserts!). However, you can add a comma to show additional emphasis, but this isn’t required (When planning a party, she considers the not only the quality of the products served, but also the presentation). In the end, adding a comma is a stylistic choice and not grammatically required.

Nicole is not only a great student, but also a first-rate athlete.
Nicole is not only a great student but also a first-rate athlete.
Note: Although no commas are needed when punctuating this pair, commas may be added in special circumstances for extra emphasis.
While rehearsing her speech, she practiced not only her mannerisms but also her pronunciation.
While rehearsing her speech, she practiced not only her mannerisms, but also her pronunciation.

How do you Replace Not Only But Also?

Here are 20 replacements and synonyms for the correlative conjunction not only but also:

  1. as well as
  2. likewise
  3. similarly
  4. in the same way
  5. and
  6. in addition to
  7. furthermore
  8. additionally
  9. moreover
  10. what’s more
  11. too
  12. also
  13. both…and
  14. another
  15. equally important
  16. besides
  17. further
  18. in fact
  19. as a result
  20. consequently

Find more not only…but also synonyms in our master list of transition words.

Examples of Sentences Using Synonyms for Not Only But Also:

Erin wanted not only a stable job but also a rewarding career.

This sentence shows the correct usage of not only…but also. There are, however, other ways of expressing a similar sentiment.

Erin wanted a stable job. Equally important, she wanted a rewarding career.
In addition to a stable job, Erin wanted a rewarding career.
Erin wanted a stable job. Moreover, she wanted a rewarding career.
As well as wanting a stable job, Erin wanted a rewarding career.

When comparing these sentences, you may notice that the emphasis changes. For example, each construction places more or less importance on one of the phrases. As a result, the meaning of the sentence may change.

Whenever you select words, you’re choosing nuances in meaning. By opting for a different word or phrase, you may alter the meaning of your sentence ever so slightly. What’s more, you may also alter the tone of your prose, making it less formal or more conversational.

Can you use But Also Without Not Only

You can use but also without not only. On one hand, if you use not only, you must follow it with but also (They not only went fishing but also hiking). On the other hand, if you just use but also, you don’t need to use not only before it (He loves to go to the movies but also enjoys the gym).

Patricia not only speaks five languages but also is an avid traveler.
I insist on buying fresh ingredients but also on making the time to cook with them.
  • If you start with not only: you must follow it with but also.
  • If you don’t use not only: you can use but also by itself.

Do you Have to use but Also With not Only?

If you use the first part of the correlative conjunction not only, then you must use the second part but also. Conversely, if you just use the second part but also, then you don’t need to include the first part not only. In formal writing, you should use the entire construction not only…but also. However, in informal contexts, you can leave off the also and shorten the phrase to not only…but. The meaning of the sentence shouldn’t change.

  • Formal Writing: use the full construction not only…but also
  • Informal Writing: you can use the shortened construction not only…but
Not only was the flight long and treacherous.
Not only was the flight long, but also treacherous.
The flight was long but also treacherous.
It was not only a long flight but also a treacherous one.
It was not only a long flight but a treacherous one.

Some writers may consider not only…but also to be one stylistic choice among many. After all, there are multiple options for linking two related thoughts, with each creating different shades of meaning.

Whether you opt for this phrase or another one is up to you, and it may depend on the type of writing you’re doing. Most importantly, your sentence should not only sound natural but also be clear in meaning. That, above all, is what writing should be about.

Quick Not Only…But Also Quiz

Not Only... But Also Question #1

1. What type of conjunction is
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is A. “Not only...but also” is a correlative conjunction. They're words or phrases that work together to link words, clauses, or phrases

Not Only... But Also Question #2

Complete the sentence. Ivy not only eats fruits ___ eats vegetables.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is B. "Not only...but also" is used to convey two related facts, thoughts, or pieces of information.

Not Only... But Also Question #3

Which of these are NOT correlative conjunctions?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is A. Correlative conjunctions serve to highlight the relationship between elements in the sentence.

Not Only... But Also Question #4

Complete the sentence. Jane is “neither” angry ____ upset.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is C. “Neither...nor” are correlative conjunctions.

Not Only... But Also Question #5

Less formal writing can omit the word
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is TRUE. The phrase becomes: “not only…but.”

Not Only... But Also Question #6

It would be best if you punctuated a “not only...but also” pair with a comma.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is FALSE. Since “not only…but also” is a correlative conjunction, no comma is necessary.

Read More: What Is Parallelism in Writing?

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Krista heads up Marketing and Content Creation here at INK. From Linguistics and History to puns and memes, she's interested in the systems we create to share our ideas with each other.

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    Musa Balta October 29 at 2:45 pm GMT

    Excellent! Thank you so much.

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      Krista Grace Morris Author October 29 at 2:54 pm GMT

      Hey, Musa! Thanks for taking the time to give us such a stellar comment. We appreciate you and your kind words! Cheers.

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        Musa Balta October 29 at 2:56 pm GMT

        After this topic, I am a new fan of this website. Have a good day!

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          Krista Grace Morris Author November 05 at 6:09 am GMT

          Musa, thank you for your fantastic comment! Please do check out our other articles and let me know what you think. I’m always working to improve these resources for our readers. Thanks again!

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    Meirynn Linx Phoenix November 10 at 2:09 pm GMT

    Can I ask something? Which one is correct, not only….but he also…. Or not only….but also he….

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      Krista Grace Morris Author November 10 at 3:25 pm GMT

      Hi, Meirynn! Great question. Either one is correct. The rule is: you cannot separate the first part of this construction (the “not only” part) but you can separate the second part (the “but also” part). So, both of the following are correct: 1) Not only does he know how to ride a bike but he also knows how to ride a motorcycle 2) Not only does he know how to ride a bike but also he knows how to ride a motorcycle. Check out the Pro-Tip in the article to review this rule and don’t forget to take the quiz to test yourself. Thanks again for your question and for reading! Hope this helps. Best!

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