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Using “Not Only . . . But Also” In Your Writing

Why You Should Use “Not Only . . . But Also” 

Although it may sound odd, using “not only. . . but also” in your writing can add a lot of strength and depth to your voice. In short, it can easily add parallelism to your writing, which creates a simple reading experience that creates balance and symmetry in your writing. However, when using this phrase, you should make sure that any words you are with follow the same verb tense. 

For instance, below are a few examples of using parallelism with this phrase: 

  • He is not only intelligent but also is kind
  • They are not only fun but also have a sense of humility 
  • She is not only hard-working but also beautiful

These sentences show how you can use almost any word in this basic framework. However, if the words don’t follow the same tense, you need to alter it slightly to improve readability. 

Should You Use Commas With “Not Only . . . But Also?”

It may feel natural to use commas or other punctuation with this phrase. However, this usually isn’t needed. Generally, commas should not be used to split apart pairs of conjunctions. There are some exceptions to this, however. For instance, you can use a comma to split these apart when you want to show emphasis and character in your writing. 

Below are two identical sentences, one of which has a strategically placed comma to add extra emphasis: 

  • When drawing, Andrew pictures not only his subject but also his audience 
  • When drawing, Andrew pictures not only his subject, but also his audience 


In the end, while it may seem pretty specific, making distinctions/using phrases such as “Not Only . . . But Also” can add a lot of character and intelligence to your writing. Using phrases such as this can create a great amount of balance that can easily get your idea across to your reader while also creating interesting writing that captures and intrigues them. This idea of creating balanced and harmonious sentences is called parallelism, and it is a great tool to have with you as you write any type of document! 

Related: Is there a comma before “which?”

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By Ryan Fisher

Ryan holds degrees from Pacific Lutheran University and specializes in proofreading, editing, and content writing with an emphasis on business communication.

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