# where to position the preposition in the phrase: “not only… but also”

I have the following sentences, of which I don't know whether the prepositions are correctly positioned:

The solution depends not only on Condition A, but also on Condition B. But when C happens, it depends only on Condition A.

Another possible way is:

The solution depends on not only Condition A, but also Condition B. But when C happens, it depends on only Condition A.

Thank you very much for your help!

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This isn't really a question about "not only... but also" as much as it is about where to place the preposition within or around that construct. –  J.R. Aug 31 '12 at 8:29
Dear J.R. Thanks for your comment. I have updated my title accordingly. –  Anand Aug 31 '12 at 8:34

The first of your two examples is less clumsy than the second, but both are ambiguous or unclear. The examples in Shyam's answer remove the ambiguity by replacing it with the solution:

But when C happens, it depends only on Condition A.
→ But when C happens, the solution depends only on Condition A.

However, there is a problem with the first sentence when combined with the second, as the two contradict each other. The first sentence says the solution depends on Condition B and the second sentence says the solution does not depend on Condition B. Some possible re-wordings (sadly, convoluted or prolix) are shown below. It seems that while the dependencies among Conditions A, B, C are not particularly complex, they are difficult to state briefly, correctly, elegantly.

The solution depends on Conditions A and B, except only on A when C happens.
The solution depends on Condition A; solely on A when Condition C occurs, else on B as well.
If Condition C occurs, the solution depends only on Condition A; otherwise, it depends not only on A, but also on B.

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• When C happens, the solution only depends on Condition A.

Here the only emphasises the solution and not Condition A.

• When C happens, the solution depends only on Condition A.
• When C happens, the solution depends on Condition A only.
• When C happens, the solution depends on Condition A alone.
• When C happens, the solution depends solely on Condition A.

These different formulations convey whatever you had intended.

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Dear Shyam, thanks a lot for all these alternatives. :-) –  Anand Aug 31 '12 at 8:36

The first one is the right one, I suppose.

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Thanks Olga S. Do you think the second one is wrong? –  Anand Aug 31 '12 at 8:03
As for the first one, the second part can be also wrote as "But when C happens, it depends only on Condition A". Do you think this is better? –  Anand Aug 31 '12 at 8:05
The position of "only" in the second part depends on the emphasis. You should decide what word you want to emphasize. –  Olga S. Aug 31 '12 at 8:06
As for the second option in your question, it doesn't seem right. –  Olga S. Aug 31 '12 at 8:07
Add an "on" after the "also" in the second option, and it would seem just fine. –  J.R. Aug 31 '12 at 8:31