As far as I understand, this structure is grammatically correct:

Not only would it provide ..., but it also would...

Can we omit "but" without introducing a mistake?

Not only would it provide ..., it also would...

I've found the following explanation here but I think this example has slightly different meaning:

Usually, a "not only" feels lost without a "but also" to pal around with. However, it is idiomatically possible and acceptable to omit the "but also." Burchfield gives this example: "Rowers not only face backward, they race backward." Authority: The New Fowler's Modern English Usage edited by R.W. Burchfield. Clarendon Press: Oxford, England. 1996. Used with the permission of Oxford University Press. (under "not")


Omitting but leads to a nasty comma splice. But's role as a coordinating conjunction is to join those two independent clauses. You could, however, use a semicolon:

Not only would it provide...; it also would...

In my opinion, the quoted example ("Rowers not only face backward, they race backward.") is grammatically incorrect. I would use a semicolon or include but before they.

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  • Or even a colon. – TrevorD Oct 8 '13 at 23:04
  • "Not only would it provide [noun phrase]" isn't a complete sentence, so the result can't be a comma splice. – Lawrence Mar 1 '17 at 22:37

In my experience, the use of a semicolon actually negates the need for a "but." Thus, the sentence could read, "Rowers not only face backward; they race backward." When combined with the italicization of "race," the pause indicated by the semicolon lends impact to the statement as a whole.

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