please consider that English is not my first language :D thanks

the sentence:

[...], however, as he is not only holding onto the rope but is tied to it just like his counterpart, the native, [...]

my problem:

can I just remove the second "is"? -> he is not only holding onto the rope but tied to it? both versions sound really awkward to me but I can`t think of any other way to express it right now

  • 2
    I prefer the cadence of the version with the second is. – Lawrence Aug 10 '17 at 12:42
  • Perhaps you can try rewriting in the following form: ;however, not only is he holding onto to the rope, but like his counterpart, is also tied to it. – Stick figure Aug 10 '17 at 12:46
  • 2
    Now that's remarkable, as for me, removing the second is creates a syllepsis and a garden-path sentence. It's horrible at best. – ЯegDwight Aug 10 '17 at 12:58
  • 1
    I dislike dropping the second is because the two have different syntactic functions: the first is a progressive auxiliary and the second is a passive auxiliary. It's a "She left in a huff and a sedan chair" sort of thing. – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 10 '17 at 12:59
  • 3
    For parallelism, you would have either "not only is ... but is...." or else "is not only ... but ..." Yours is a mixture of these two, so not precisely parallel. – GEdgar Aug 10 '17 at 13:51

You can't remove the second "is" because "is holding" and "is tied" are two different types of verbs. A compound verb can share an "is," but a compound verb must be made up of the same kind.

"Is holding" is a present progressive form, whereas "is tied" is [copula + participle]. The first verb is an active action verb and the second is a passive status.

  • 2
    I think saying "can't" here is too strong. I agree that it is better to retain the second is, both for this reason and for parallelism as indicated by @GEdgar ina comment to teh question. But this sort of construction is used often enough, including by fluent speakers, that it cannot be labeled 'wrong. Moreover, if the second if is removed it does not seriously lead to any ambiguity, nor even to the kind of surprise that syllepsis often generates, as in "The cook was a good cook as cooks go, and as cooks go she went" ("Reginald on Besetting Sins" Saki) – David Siegel Jun 13 '19 at 22:04
  • I agree with @DavidSiegel that "can't" is too strong. But I think it's fair to say many if not most native speakers wouldn't discard the second instance of is in the cited context. And regardless of whether or not they were aware of why they'd normally make that choice, I think the underlying reason is precisely as set out here. – FumbleFingers Jun 22 '20 at 15:46

This is an example of the so called correlating conjunction not only... but in a sentence structure having two predicate phrases. The meaning which the conjunction is conveying here is emphasizing the additional predicate element is tied to it in the sentence. This makes the sentence keep the rules of the so called parallel structure. We must use an analogous grammatical form in the second predicate phrase. That is why it is impossible to redact is from the second phrase here, in formal writing at least.

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