Question courtesy KhanAcademy enter image description here Question (on the right) is referring to part [11] of the paragraph (on the left). Question statement (not shown in picture) is to select best possible rewrite of the underlined portion of part 11, and make it grammatically correct. I marked NO CHANGE but correct answer given is C.

According to me, "not only...but also" construction should not have any punctuation at all, and if it does, should contain only a comma. Hence I marked A as my choice.

For example, in this question - Parallelism and prepositions in '...not only...but also..." - we can see how the correct answer makes use of no punctuation at all.

However here they've indicated use of a semi-colon is correct. Can someone please explain why this is correct?


I had not been taught the "not only...also" construction in school, hence, it was my natural subconscious decision to insert a "but" in the passage. I thus failed to notice that the "but" is in fact missing. However, the information in the below answer is still useful for people interested in the "not only...also" pattern.

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    You should discard this source of grammatical "information"--the authors erroneously label the independent trailblazer clause as a relative, and they do not acknowledge that use of the comma varies widely from writer to writer. Sep 13, 2017 at 13:11
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    Please do not post pictures of text. They can't be searched, they're unfriendly to users who use screen readers or other assistive technology, and there's just no point to it.
    – stangdon
    Sep 13, 2017 at 14:05
  • @stangdon yes you're right. I usually try to avoid doing this. The problem though is I can't copy the text from that KhanAcademy site under Writing and Language tests. Now, even if I do write the text, if I only write the sentence I'm concerned about, then I might miss out on relevant contextual information in the preceding or succeeding sentence. Moreover the options on the right - as you can see - are replete with information which provides you with helpful info as to what was going on in the mind of that KA author when he marked option C as correct. That's the reason why I pasted image. Sep 13, 2017 at 14:41
  • @stangdon Please correct me if I'm wrong. Thank you! :D Sep 13, 2017 at 14:41
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    If you can't copy and paste, you can still type it all out longhand, or just use the image as a backup for the quote of just the relevant bits. Laziness is no excuse for using an image of text. Sep 13, 2017 at 15:20

2 Answers 2


The ELL answer you cite is about the "not only ... but also" pattern. However, there is no but in the Walker text.

There is usually no punctuation when but is present, and there is usually some form of punctuation in a not only construction without but.

She not only sings but acts.

She not only sings, she acts.

As StoneyB mentions, few punctuation rules are rigid and universally accepted. These would be permissible as well:

She not only sings, but acts.

She not only sings she acts.

She not only sings; she acts.

She not only sings—she acts.

  • Sorry, I did fail to notice that the "but" was missing. Actually I have not been taught the "not only...also" construction in school, hence, it was my natural subconscious decision to insert a "but" there. Please pardon it. Thanks for your information anyway! Sep 13, 2017 at 14:45
  • No pardon required. We're all learners of one thing or another.
    – TimR
    Sep 13, 2017 at 14:53

The sentence in question does not contain "but also". Without the conjunction "but" it is two complete sentences and must be either written as two sentences or joined with a semicolon.

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