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Consider the following:

  1. Not only you should be able to speak but also able to write.
  2. You should be able to not only speak but also write.
  3. You should not only be able to speak but also be able to write.

Which is right to use? If there's an even better one, please suggest.

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I would substitute "You should be able not only to speak but to write." –  Robusto Jan 18 '11 at 2:25
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The second and third sentences are correct:

  • You should be able to not only speak[,] but also write.
  • You should not only be able to speak[,] but also be able to write.

I would correct the first sentence thus:

  • Not only should you be able to speak[,] but also should you be able to write. OR
  • Not only should you be able to speak[,] but you should also be able to write.

I leave it to you to decide whether you want a comma before but. Either way is fine.

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I would phrase your correction of the first sentence as "Not only should you be able to speak, but (you should) also (be able to) write", where the terms in parentheses are optional. It sounds odd to me to say "but also should you". –  Jon Purdy Jan 18 '11 at 4:04
    
@Jon Purdy: Indeed it sounds odd. I wasn't really thinking about it being spoken, but then, I think that sentence would be the least frequently used of the three. I guess I was also trying to be symmetric, but I'll add the second option, as you suggested. However, I disagree that the words you parenthesized are optional. –  Jimi Oke Jan 18 '11 at 4:20
    
@Jimi Oke: Eh, it's probably a matter of dialect or style or something. You know how English is. –  Jon Purdy Jan 18 '11 at 5:00
    
"To not only speak" is, of course, a split infinitive, which some will take exception to... –  Brian Nixon Jan 18 '11 at 14:55
    
@Jon Purdy, @Jimi Oke: I would have said: "Not only should you be able to speak, but (you should) also (be able) to write", which sounds far more natural to me (British). –  psmears Jan 18 '11 at 19:48
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protected by RegDwigнt Oct 15 '13 at 9:11

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