4

When you read, you can not only learn some new words, but also you can learn how to use these English words.

I thought the sentence should be :

"When you read, not only you can learn some new words, but also you can learn how to use these English words.

or

When you read, you can not only learn some new words, but also learn how to use these English words.

What do "only" and "also" modify?

  • 1
    Also - When you read, not only do you learn some new words, but also their usage. – Maulik V Jan 28 '14 at 4:51
2

The first suggested alternative is not grammatically correct. The possible orderings of "you can not only" are:

  • "you can not only"
  • "not only can you"

Also, there are not strict limitations on how much of the second clause you may/must repeat. The following are all grammatical:

"you can not only verb object A, but also you can verb object B"
"you can not only verb object A, but also verb object B"
"you can not only verb object A, but also object B"

All these sentences would be correct with either "not only can you" or "you can not only".

  • 1
    What about you not only can? (The "you" would not get repeated in this case). I think it's only the "not only" that can't be split, no? – starsplusplus Jan 28 '14 at 12:05
  • @starsplusplus yes I would say "you not only can" is grammatical, but clunkier sounding than the others. – nohat Jan 28 '14 at 18:06
  • Yes, that is true. I agree. – starsplusplus Jan 29 '14 at 9:07
  • Are the following grammatically correct? 1) Not only can you write this way, but also you're encouraged to. 2) Not only can you write this way, but you also are encouraged to. 3) Not only can you write this way, but you're also encouraged to. 4) Not only can you write this way, but also are encouraged to. – Lerner Zhang Aug 2 '15 at 3:35
  • Only your second example is grammatically correct. The rest violate parallel structure. – user3932000 Jan 9 '18 at 12:16
-2

The given sentence itself is wrong. Your two alternatives are perfectly grammatically correct, save for a little error which we'll get to later.

"Not only... but also" is an example of a correlative conjunction. And when using correlative conjunctions, you have to make both parts of the conjunction parallel, meaning you have to make sure both parts have equal grammatical units. See here for more on parallelism.

For example, here's the given sentence:

When you read, you can not only {learn some new words}, but also {you can learn how to use these English words}.

You can easily see that the two {parts} aren't equal, or parallel. Here are some fixed versions, with the parallelisms sorted out:

When you read, you can not only {learn some new words}, but also {learn how to use these English words}.

When you read, you can learn not only {some new words}, but also {how to use these English words}.

When you read, not only {can you learn some new words}, but {you can also learn how to use these English words}.

You may have noticed that with the third one, the word order is kinda changed around, and this is the little error in your first alternative.

If you introduce an independent clause with "not only...," the clause has to be inverted, hence the "not only can you" instead of "not only you can." It's just how it is.

As for "but you can also" word order, the adverb "also" has to come after "be" or helping verbs. For more info about adverb placement, see here.

Cheers.

  • Not sure why people are downvoting this. Parallel structure is basic stuff—you learn this in grade school, and it's a favorite topic among SAT/ACT questions. If it's not parallel, it's not grammatical. – user3932000 Jan 9 '18 at 12:18
  • "If it's not parallel, it's not grammatical" is not entirely correct. Parallelism is a style preference, not a division between grammatical and ungrammatical usage. Plenty of native speakers say and write non-parallel structures all the time. – nohat Mar 25 at 21:09
  • @nohat Plenty of native speakers also speak and write in incorrect grammar, no matter the language. – user3932000 Mar 25 at 21:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.