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It was not until the government stepped in and requested that the oil company reroute the pipeline that the corporation agreed to honour the wishes of the protestors.

Can I just replace “It was not until” with “It was only after”? and if so, are any further changes in the sentence needed? Also, may I rewrite the above sentence as “It was not until the government stepped in and requested that the oil company reroute the pipeline agreed the corporation to honour the wishes of the protestors.”?

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    You're asking several different questions in one. Your first is a good question. Your second is requesting editing, which is an off-topic question. The third is quite different from the first, and if you really want it answered (do you??), the please start a separate question for it. Take the tour, if you haven't already, to become familiar with our community guidelines.
    – gotube
    Jul 21 at 3:18
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Can you just replace "it was not until" with "it was only after"?  Yes, those two phrasings are close enough in meaning and structure that the difference hardly matters.  Let's not worry quite yet about whether the two events in question could happen at the same time.

Are any further changes needed?  No.  In fact, that change isn't needed.  The sentence is fine as originally presented.

Can you rewrite it as "It was not until the government stepped in and requested that the oil company reroute the pipeline agreed the corporation to honor the wishes of the protestors"?  No.  The original sentence has a structure:

It wasn't until [a certain time] that [something happened].

That first piece doesn't even need to be a clause.  It can be, and it certainly is in the original sentence.  Another sentence might use a different time referent, like "It wasn't until Tuesday that the package finally arrived."*

That second piece is a clause.  That "that" introducing and subordinating the clause is not optional here.  There isn't anything about the sentence's overall structure that justifies inverting the subordinate subject and verb.

The overall structure does involve something a little bit like an inversion.  It's an it-cleft sentence.  Without that cleft structure, we're left with something like this:

The corporation did not agree to honor the wishes of the protestors until the government stepped in and requested that the oil company reroute the pipeline.

The it-cleft of the original sentence has a subject/verb pairing of its own: it/was.  That's different than the sort of inversion that you mentioned in a comment below SoronelHaetir's answer.

Compare these:

Not until liberation did he return.
It wasn't until liberation that he returned.

The former sentence contains one clause, and its structure requires the subject/auxiliary inversion.  The latter contains two clauses, and neither clause admits any subject/verb inversion.

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* Tuesday's package suggests that we might need to consider whether two things happen at the same time.  Reading the TEFL sentence, I expect the corporation agreed after the government stepped in.  Reading my own sentence, I expect the package arrived on Tuesday.  The difference between "not until" and "only after" becomes clear somewhere between Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Your last wording does not work at all.

Additional changes I would suggest are replacing "and requested" with "requesting" and "the wishes of the protestors" with "the protester's wishes".

It could also be: "It was not until the government stepped in requesting that the oil company honour the protestor's wishes to reroute the pipeline that the corporation agreed."

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  • You should explain what it is about OP's wording that doesn't work. You should justify your other suggested changes. And you should use the correct possessive ending for a plural noun. Jul 18 at 6:41
  • Thank you for your response, the thing is I have taken this line from a TOEFL iBT preparation book and was wondering whether I could alter the sentence in some ways. as you would suggest that my last wording is inactive, then you would also disagree with this line "Not until liberation did he return" as well, yeah? Also, is there any difference between "It was not until" and "It was only after"?
    – Lukas
    Jul 18 at 7:38

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