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How come sentence1 is more correct than sentence2, in terms of BETTER FIT with its relative clause?

  1. Not only DID he exceed the speed limit, but he HAD also drank alcohol. (From a website)

Vs.

  1. Not only he EXCEEDED the speed limit, but he HAD also drank alcohol. (My construction)

Both introductory clause (sentence 1 & 2) are in the past, aren't they? BUT, how come, if I were to construct a sentence, the sentence#2 would be incorrect?

enter image description here

Source: Grammaring: Test your grammar #47
(scroll to reach #47)

  • 1
    Read this article: dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/… – Michael Rybkin Nov 11 '18 at 21:53
  • 1
    "had drank" is correct? Anyway, I would phrase it "Not only did he exceed the speed limit, but he also had been drinking alcohol." – user3169 Nov 11 '18 at 23:38
  • @MichaelRybkin, thx for the site, I have learned another style of using the "not only, but also" thingy, but my question is not about the usage of it. My bad, that's why I have edited the question just now. – John Arvin Nov 12 '18 at 1:59
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – John Arvin Nov 12 '18 at 2:58
  • @Duckisaduckisaduck, please see the attached picture above. – John Arvin Nov 12 '18 at 2:58
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Neither sentence is grammatical—or at least stylistically acceptable based on parallelism.

They can be made grammatical if you rephrase them:

Not only did he exceed the speed limit, but he [] also drank alcohol.
He not only exceeded the speed limit, but he [] also drank alcohol.

If you want to keep had you will need to make some different changes:

Not only had he exceeded the speed limit, but he had also drunk / had also been drinking alcohol.
He had not only exceeded the speed limit, but he had also drunk alcohol.


After addressing the construction of the sentences, there is really no essential difference between them in terms of meaning. (And after addressing the issue with parallelism, the second sentence is not incorrect.)

However, the first version in the question can be interpreted as having a sense of something habitual rather than referring to a one-time event.

  • Nice spot there in terms of parallelism, however, my question is about the introductory clause. What is the difference between the two? Between a website's sentence (sentence1) and my construction (sentence2) because I can't see any difference there. I wonder... – John Arvin Nov 12 '18 at 1:30
  • @JohnArvin I have updated my answer to address a possible difference in meaning between the two. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Nov 12 '18 at 1:48
  • (>.<) maybe the grammar website has set-up a fixed situation. – John Arvin Nov 12 '18 at 2:04
  • "Not only did he exceed the speed limit but he had also consumed alcohol" [prior to exceeding the speed limit] is grammatical. You do not need the past perfect in both clauses. "He exceeded the speed limit but he also had consumed alcohol". – Lambie Nov 19 '18 at 14:24

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