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I think that the "that" in the following sentence might have to go. How would you beautify such a sentence?

Not only that the car was damaged, it had no gas either.

vs

Not only was the car damaged, it had no gas either.

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Try "Not only was the car damaged, but it had no gas." –  Robusto Feb 3 '12 at 23:33
    
Thanks, that's a good alternative as well. –  Axonn Feb 4 '12 at 0:06
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1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Not only that the car was damaged ...

This sentence no verb. No subject, either.

So your intuition is correct: the other sentence is correct, clear, and even shorter.

This is not so surprising if one puts back all the little nuts and bolts -- indicated below by [boldface] inside square brackets -- that have apparently been discarded by the original composer of the sentence:

[It is] not only [the fact] that the car was damaged, [it is also the fact that] it had no gas either.

... or some such. English has lots of constructions that spin off little markers like it and that and is and the to indicate what the whole things's about, and English also has lots of people who toss these little markers away like bottle-tops and then wonder why they're not understood.

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Let me see if I understood your answer correctly. So the first sentence in my post would be correct if it had all the extra markers, but not without. The second sentence is correct, period. –  Axonn Feb 3 '12 at 23:32
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Yeah, that's about it. The subordinate clause headed by that has no clause to be subordinate to, for one thing. It looks like the sentence has been "improved" by deleting all those annoying little words and sticking to the meaningful parts, until nothing is left of the structure. –  John Lawler Feb 3 '12 at 23:36
    
Should be toss; fixed now. Thanks. –  John Lawler Feb 4 '12 at 1:34
    
Which shows the first version is not incorrect, after all, only an (over use of the) ellipsis. No reason to make that the scapegoat -- with the that, the pseudo-sentence makes enough sense to those familiar with the construction. –  Kris Feb 4 '12 at 4:15
    
Indeed, it is an ellipsis. However, giving it a name doesn't make it correct. Leaving things out of English sentences at random is not recommended. –  John Lawler Feb 4 '12 at 5:03
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