When we can omit the subject (or sometimes the verb) in the second part of "not only... but also" structure?

I have seen some examples:

  1. Not only is he handsome but also intelligent
  2. Not only does he speak English but he also speaks French

In the first example the "he is" is omitted, however in the latter the "he speaks" seems to be mandatory, hence we cannot write "Not only does he speak English but also French".

I want to know in which situations we can prevent repeating the subject in the second part? Only when we want to mention an adjective? Or every time that we have similar subjects we can ignore it in the "but also" part?

Any help would be appreciated.

  • 2
    Those are all correct, and so are others. You can optionally delete repeated material in conjoined clauses (clauses connected with and, but, or) via the rule of Conjunction Reduction, which is widely applied in English. Aug 7, 2021 at 16:20
  • 1
    (1) is incorrect. It should be He is not only handsome but also intelligent. or Not only is he handsome, he is also intelligent. Aug 7, 2021 at 16:21
  • @TinfoilHat Wren and Martin say that the following is acceptable: not only is he foolish, but also obstinate (here). Aug 7, 2021 at 16:39
  • You can say "but also French".
    – Barmar
    Aug 7, 2021 at 23:05
  • 1
    @linguisticturn: That example, too, is incorrect. The book goes on to contradict it in the next section: “When conjunctions are used as correlatives, each of the correlated words should be placed immediately before the words to be connected; as, He visited not only Agra, but also Delhi. (Not) He not only visited Agra, but also Delhi. In formal, written English, what follows each part of the correlative pair should be parallel — both adjectives, both verbs, both independent clauses, etc. If not, you will hear from your editor. Aug 7, 2021 at 23:54


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.