I have confusion of positioning not only whether or not it should be put after/before the am/are/is.

Having said that, I went to read related topics on some grammar related sites. I found that most of the example sentences I have read put it after the am/are/is.

But I came across a sentence on cambridge dict. website that yields doubt on my side.

The car not only is economical but also feels good to drive.

I'm pretty sure it's rather an example of inversion thus that 'is' is put after the not only. Am I correct?

Will the sentence be the same with:


Not only is the car economical but also feels good to drive

. Note that I'm aware some not only related questions on this site but the question is rather talking about inversion in general.

  • See this answer on English Language & Usage.
    – Robusto
    Jul 15, 2017 at 18:34
  • The placing of the negative "not only" at the beginning of a clause triggers subject-auxiliary inversion. cf. "He was incompetent and corrupt". ~ "Not only was he incompetent, but he was also corrupt". Note that "but" introduces the second coordinate.
    – BillJ
    Jul 16, 2017 at 7:35
  • @BillJ, Is the order of not only IS correct?. What I thought is that, the first sentence actually consists of 2 coordinates like The car.. [pause] Not only is....- This is my question is nutshell. Jul 20, 2017 at 13:56
  • 1
    Yes, it's correct. "Not only x but y" is a special case of negative and positive coordinations. "Not only" can be found to the left or right of its basic position, as your two examples show. Only in the second, where it is fronted, does it trigger subject-auxiliary inversion.
    – BillJ
    Jul 20, 2017 at 16:07

1 Answer 1


You can use "Not only" both ways, but the second sentence is incorrect.

"Not only is the car economical but also feels good to drive"

When you start a sentence with "Not only", you have to mention the subject again after the first adjective. In your sentence, you would say:

Not only is the car economical, but it also feels good to drive

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