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I have seen the other questions similar to this topic, but they all explain how the sentence is in present perfect and simple past. My question is, I would like to know why, or what the grammatical reason the use of both the words 'have' and 'had' is correct for the same subject ('it' is the subject here):

"Not only did it have XYZ, it also had ABC."

Note, ABC and XYZ can be swapped and both ABC and XYZ hold true all the time eg, "not only did it have cruise control/automatic windows, it also had automatic windows/cruise control".

What are the grammatical rules allowing this? Note I am not saying it is breaking any rules, rather, I'm asking why don't we say "have" twice, or "had" twice. Thanks

  • What so-called rule do you think it violates? – Xanne Sep 13 '19 at 4:54
  • Can you please identify the present perfect tense in your example in bold? The PP for "it had X" is "it has had X" – Mari-Lou A Sep 13 '19 at 5:52
  • The Q is based on incorrect parsing. – Kris Sep 13 '19 at 11:49
  • In the first clause the auxiliary verb (did) is inflected. There is no auxiliary verb in the second, therefore the verb is inflected normally. – Jim Sep 13 '19 at 18:10
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    There is no present-tense form (neither normal present nor present perfect) in your sentence at all. “It did not [only] have” is just as much past tense as “it had”. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 15 '19 at 12:47
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There is no rule that says you can't have the present tense and past tense in the same sentence.

In any case, your sentence contains no present tense verb. Both verbs are in the past tense. When the phrase not only introduces a clause it requires inversion of the subject and the verb as well as the addition of an auxiliary. It is the auxiliary which indicates the tense. The auxiliary here is did, which is the past tense.

The Collins Cobuild English Usage (p442) has this entry on not only:

For emphasis, you can put not only first, followed by an auxiliary or 'be', then the subject, then the main verb.

  • Not only did they send home substantial earnings, but they also saved money.
  • Not only do they go rarely go on school outings, they rarely, if ever, leave Brooklyn.
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