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Not Only But Also: Important Rules and Example Sentences


Not only but also! What does the term correlative conjunction mean? The term correlative conjunction refers to a set of two conjunctions that work in tandem. Correlative conjunctions pull two sections of a sentence together. “Not only but also” is not the only correlative conjunction in existence but also not/but, either/or, as/as, both/and, rather/than, such/that, and neither/nor. In this article, we are going to look at some important rules of using “not only but also” with detailed examples.

Not only but also | Comma Rules

How to Connect “Not only…but also” with a Noun

In this example, “but also” precedes the plural noun “dolphins”. The above sentence does not support the use of a comma.

Rule #1: Avoid using a comma if the correlative conjunction “not only…but also” connects to a noun.

How to Connect “Not only…but also” with a Clause

  • Not only will I paint sharks on my wall, but I will also paint dolphins and jellyfish.

This example has a comma placed after “not only” and in front of “but”. A comma comes before the word “but” because the conjunction precedes an independent clause. A comma needs to be applied if the correlative conjunction connects to a specific type of clause.

Independent vs Dependent Clauses

Two different types of clauses can act in a sentence with correlative conjunctions: independent and dependent. Not all clauses operating in sentences with correlating conjunctions need to have a comma interjected into them.

Independent clauses are clauses that can function as a sentence. When the second clause found in the sentence is independent the correlative conjunction “not only but also” will act as a coordinating conjunction. The correlative conjunction not only…but also, more often than not, works as a coordinating conjunction. It is easy to insert a subject after the word “but” and before the word “also”. In contrast, a dependent clause or subordinate clause may have a subject and/or verb but will not represent a full thought. Dependent clauses can be found within independent clauses. They provide additional information to a sentence.

Independent Clause

  • Not only will I destroy his crayons, but I will also break his pencils.

The subject “I” can be found between “but” and “also”. This suggests that the second clause is independent. If you are ever unsure about whether a clause is independent or dependent you can remove the word “but” to see if the second clause can form a complete sentence.

Rule #2: A correlative conjunction needs a comma when joined to an independent clause.

Dependent Clause

  • Not only will I destroy his crayon but also his pencils.

If you remove the word “but” you are left with “also his pencils.” The second clause is dependent because it needs the first clause to form a complete sentence. In this instance, you would not put a comma in front of the word “but”.

Rule #3: Do not use a comma with a correlative conjunction linked with a dependent clause.

Not only…but also Comma Rules | Summary

  • Never use a comma with “not only but also” if connecting a noun.
  • Always use a comma when linking correlative conjunctions with independent clauses.
  • Never use a comma with “not only but also” if connecting a dependent clause.

Not only but also | Forming Rules

Rule #1: Not only…but also is used in the middle and end of the sentence.

To emphasize the Noun

  • S + V + not only + N + but also + N


  • She is not only an actress but also a singer.
  • He is not only a dad but also a mom in the family.

To emphasize the Verb

  • S + not only + V + but also + V


  • She not only read the book but also remembered what she read. 
  • She not only writes her own plays but also acts in them. 

To emphasize the Adjective

  • S + to be + not only + Adj + but also + Adj


  • She is not only beautiful but also intelligent.
  • Tom is not only rich but also famous. 

To emphasize the Adverb

  • S + V + not only + Adv + but also + Adv


  • Thomas writes not only correctly but also neatly.
  • He worked not only hard but also carefully.

Rule #2: Not only…but also is used at the beginning of the sentence.

  • Not only does she speak Spanish but she also speaks French.
  • Not only you but also I am planning to go.
  • Not only do the nurses want a pay increase but they also want reduced hours as well.

Not only but also | Infographic

Not Only But Also: Important Rules and Example Sentences

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