IELTS Language Hacks: Expanding Your Grammar Toolbox with ‘Not Only… But Also…

by | Mar 21, 2023 | IELTS Grammar

The “not only… but also…” structure is a useful and flexible way to connect two related ideas or pieces of information, highlighting that both are important:

Regular exercise not only improves physical health, but also boosts mental well-being and reduces stress.

  • Place “not only” before the first point: The first point should come immediately after “not only,” followed by a comma or the coordinating conjunction “but.”
  • Use “also” or “but also” before the second point: The second point should follow “also” or “but also,” which emphasizes the importance or relevance of this point.

“Not only… but also…” structure and rules

In this section, we’ll cover the basic rules and examples of using the “not only… but also…” structure.


The most common structure for using “not only… but also…” is:

Subject + not only + verb + (object) + but also + verb + (object)

Regular exercise not only improves physical health, but also boosts mental well-being and reduces stress.


  1. Parallelism: Maintain parallelism when using “not only… but also…” by ensuring that the parts following both “not only” and “but also” have the same grammatical form (e.g., noun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc.).
  2. Verb agreement: If “not only” and “but also” are used with two subjects, the verb should agree with the subject closest to it.


  • Correct: She not only sings but also dances. (verbs are parallel)

Incorrect: She not only sings but also is a dancer. (verbs are not parallel)

  • Correct: Not only the students but also the teacher was excited about the project. (singular verb ‘was’ agrees with singular subject ‘teacher’)

Incorrect: Not only the students but also the teacher were excited about the project. (plural verb ‘were’ does not agree with singular subject ‘teacher’)

Practice Exercise

Combine the following sentences using “not only… but also…” and ensure that the structure is parallel and the verb agrees with the subject.

  1. John is a talented musician. John is a skilled painter.
  2. The new shopping mall has a cinema. The new shopping mall has a gym.
  3. I like to read novels. I like to watch movies.


  1. John is not only a talented musician but also a skilled painter.
  2. The new shopping mall not only has a cinema but also a gym.
  3. I not only like to read novels but also watch movies.

Now that you have learned the basic rules and structure for using “not only… but also…”, you can practice using this conjunction in your IELTS writing and speaking to create more engaging and emphatic statements.

How you can use “not only… but also…” in the IELTS writing and speaking

You can use “not only… but also…” in various parts of the IELTS test:

IELTS Writing Task 1

In this task, you may have to describe and compare data, like graphs, charts, or diagrams. You can use the “not only… but also…” structure to emphasize two significant points or trends. Here are a few examples:

  1. The graph shows that the number of tourists visiting Country A increased not only in the summer months but also in the winter months.
  2. The bar chart indicates that the sales of Company X not only increased in domestic markets but also experienced significant growth in international markets.
  3. According to the pie chart, the major sources of energy consumption in the country were not only fossil fuels but also renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power.
  4. The line graph reveals that the unemployment rate not only decreased among young people but also showed a decline among older workers.
  5. The table demonstrates that the number of students enrolling in online courses not only grew steadily from 2018 to 2021 but also skyrocketed in 2022.
  6. The diagram illustrates that the process of manufacturing the product involves not only the assembly of various components but also thorough quality control checks at each stage.
  7. The map displays that the expansion of the city’s public transportation system not only covers the central districts but also extends to suburban areas.
  8. The data suggest that the use of smartphones not only increased for communication purposes but also became popular for various other tasks, such as online shopping and entertainment.
  9. The survey results indicate that the main reasons for choosing public transportation were not only cost savings but also environmental concerns and convenience.
  10. The population pyramid shows that the country not only has a large young population but also a significant proportion of elderly citizens, requiring different social services.
  11. The chart highlights that the demand for electric vehicles not only rose in developed countries but also gained momentum in developing nations, driven by increased environmental awareness and government incentives.

IELTS Writing Task 2

In this task, you need to write an essay on a given topic. The “not only… but also…” structure can be used to present arguments, support ideas, or provide examples. Here are a few examples for the 10 common topics in IELTS Writing Task 2:


  1. Online education not only allows students to access a wide range of courses and materials, but also provides flexibility in terms of time and location.
  2. Bilingual education not only enhances language skills, but also promotes cultural understanding and tolerance.
  3. Extracurricular activities not only help students develop soft skills like teamwork and communication, but also contribute to their overall well-being and personal growth.


  1. Regular exercise not only improves physical health, but also boosts mental well-being and reduces stress.
  2. A balanced diet not only provides essential nutrients for optimal health, but also helps prevent chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes.
  3. Adequate sleep not only enhances cognitive function and concentration, but also supports a strong immune system.


  1. Recycling not only conserves natural resources, but also reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills.
  2. Planting trees not only helps combat climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide, but also provides habitats for wildlife and improves air quality.
  3. Sustainable agriculture practices not only preserve soil quality and biodiversity, but also contribute to food security and long-term productivity.


  1. Smartphones not only provide communication and entertainment options, but also offer tools for productivity and organization.
  2. Artificial intelligence not only improves efficiency in industries like manufacturing and healthcare, but also contributes to advancements in fields like research and space exploration.
  3. Telecommuting not only reduces the need for office space and resources, but also decreases carbon emissions from commuting.


  1. Globalization not only expands trade opportunities and economic growth, but also fosters cultural exchange and understanding.
  2. International tourism not only boosts local economies, but also promotes awareness of different cultures and traditions.
  3. Multinational corporations not only create job opportunities, but also introduce new technologies and business practices to the host countries.


  1. Flexible work hours not only increase employee satisfaction, but also enhance productivity and work-life balance.
  2. Providing employee training not only improves their skills and performance, but also increases job satisfaction and retention.
  3. Remote work not only reduces overhead costs for companies, but also offers employees greater flexibility and improved work-life balance.


  1. Transparent governance not only builds trust between citizens and the government, but also encourages accountability and responsible decision-making.
  2. Government investment in public infrastructure not only improves living standards, but also stimulates economic growth and job creation.
  3. Welfare programs not only provide financial support to vulnerable groups, but also contribute to social stability and cohesion.

Crime and Punishment

  1. Community service not only offers an alternative to imprisonment, but also encourages offenders to contribute positively to society.
  2. Rehabilitation programs not only reduce recidivism rates, but also help offenders reintegrate into society and become productive citizens.
  3. Gun control not only limits access to dangerous weapons, but also contributes to a decrease in gun-related crimes and accidents.

Society and Culture

  1. Gender equality not only empowers women, but also promotes social and economic development for all.
  2. Promoting cultural diversity not only fosters understanding and tolerance, but also encourages creativity and innovation.
  3. Encouraging intergenerational interaction not only strengthens social bonds, but also allows for the exchange of knowledge and experiences between generations.


  1. Urban green spaces not only improve air quality and provide recreational opportunities, but also promote mental well-being and reduce stress.
  2. Efficient public transportation not only reduces traffic congestion and pollution, but also increases accessibility and mobility for residents.
  3. Sustainable urban planning not only optimizes land use and resource management, but also creates healthier, more livable communities for future generations. T

These examples demonstrate how to address various topics in IELTS Writing Task 2 by presenting two related points or ideas using the “not only… but also…” structure. Remember to tailor your examples to the specific question prompt and provide sufficient explanation and support for your points to make your argument more persuasive and coherent.

IELTS Speaking

You can use the “not only… but also…” structure in any part of the speaking test to give more depth to your answers and make your speech more engaging. Here are a few examples:

Part 1

  1. I enjoy photography because it allows me not only to capture beautiful moments but also to express my creativity.
  2. My favorite type of music is classical music, as it not only soothes my mind but also helps me concentrate while studying.
  3. I like living in my city because it not only offers excellent job opportunities but also has a vibrant cultural scene.
  4. My best friend is a great person to be around because she not only has a fantastic sense of humor but also provides emotional support when needed.

Part 2

  1. The person I admire the most is my father. Not only is he a hardworking and dedicated individual, but he is also always there for our family, providing emotional support.
  2. My favorite holiday destination is a small coastal town. Not only does it have pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters, but it also boasts a rich historical heritage.
  3. One of my most memorable experiences was volunteering at a local animal shelter. Not only did I learn how to care for the animals, but I also developed valuable teamwork and communication skills.
  4. The most significant invention of the 21st century, in my opinion, is the smartphone. Not only has it revolutionized communication and access to information, but it has also transformed various industries, such as photography, entertainment, and transportation.

Part 3

  1. Governments should not only focus on economic growth but also invest in social and environmental programs to ensure a better quality of life for their citizens.
  2. It is crucial for children to receive a well-rounded education that not only focuses on academic subjects but also encourages them to develop creative and critical thinking skills.
  3. Companies should not only prioritize profit-making but also adopt sustainable practices and social responsibility initiatives to create a positive impact on society and the environment.
  4. To promote public health, governments should not only invest in healthcare facilities and services but also implement policies that encourage people to adopt healthier lifestyles, such as promoting exercise and healthy eating habits.

To ensure that you have used this structure correctly, one recommendation is to use the grammar-checking tool Grammarly. Grammarly is an online writing assistant that helps to improve your grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure. It can be a useful tool to help you identify and correct any grammatical errors in your writing and ensure that you are using the “Not Only… But Also…” structure correctly.

Remember, using a variety of grammatical structures, like “not only… but also…”, can help improve your IELTS scores in both writing and speaking sections, as it demonstrates your language flexibility and proficiency.



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