Posted by: episystechpubs | May 27, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Not only…but also.

We’ve talked about parallel structure in lists and phrases before, but today I’m going to discuss a particular phrase that seems to cause trouble for a lot of people. The problem children are phrases containing “not only…but also.” This is a formal rule as far as grammar goes, so it might sound a bit odd when used properly.

When you are using “not only…but also,” remember that your sentence has to be balanced. Each adjective, noun, verb, clause, etc. after “not only” must have a parallel adjective, noun, verb, etc. on the other side of “but also.” Here’s what I’m talking about:


· Your mom is not only funny, but also kind.

· He’s not only tall, but also handsome.


· He not only likes hot dogs but also hamburgers.

· The Seattle Center not only has the Space Needle but also the EMP Museum.

Verb phrase:

· Not only is Caesar training dogs this summer, but he’s also training cats this autumn.

· Not only is Dandy riding his bike through Paris, but also he’s playing his flute in Rome.

Now you are not only smart, but also knowledgeable. If you have more questions, have a look at some of the examples from the expert here at and the Cambridge Dictionary Online.

For a couple of articles on parallelism, see:



Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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