"... not only did his best friend..., but also that he..."

prankstare

Senior Member
Portuguese - Brazil
I have some questions involving this kind of form: "not only did his..., but also...". As in (bare with the story, please) :

"Everyone was wondering what happened to him, and then the story surfaced. It ended up the kid got his man piece stuck in a shampoo bottle and had to go to the hospital to have it removed. It was kind of sad that not only did his best friend tell everyone, but also that he lost his virginity to a Johnson & Johnson no tears baby shampoo bottle."

Can I rephrase this bit and say rather as follows?

"... not only his best friends told everyone, but also that..."
 
  • mtmjr

    Senior Member
    English (US)
    ...not only did his best friend tell everyone, but also that he lost his virginity... Here, the "not only" refers to the circumstances, the events that occured. Not only A happened, but so did B.

    ...not only his best friend told everyone, but so did his mother. Here, "not only" refers to who did the telling. Not only A told, but so did B.

    Both are grammatically correct, but they mean different things. So, in your example, you cannot rewrite it.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Hi, Prankstare.

    The original sentence has the first that in the wrong place. It should read:

    It was kind of sad not only that his best friend told everyone, but also that ....

    The previous sentence misuses it and sounds as if he lost more than his virginity.

    The verb in your parenthesis should be bear, not bare.
     

    mtmjr

    Senior Member
    English (US)
    I think the "that" can be in either position, and the verb "to tell" must be conjugated accordingly.

    Forero, I'm not sure I understand why you say "it" has been misused.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Well, the it could be a joke rather than a mistake.

    What follows not only should be parallel to what follows but also. Neither "did his best friend tell ..." nor "his best friend told" is parallel to "that he lost ...".

    It could be "It was kind of sad that not only did his best friend tell everyone, but he also lost ...." But then he would seem to refer to the friend.
     

    prankstare

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    OK. Thanks for your contributive answers. :)

    Can I say for example, the following (in the grammar point, not meaning) :

    "...not only his best friend told everyone, but also his mother" (meaning that his mother also told everyone)
     

    mtmjr

    Senior Member
    English (US)
    No, that's a litte ambiguous. (After all, the fact that you had to specify in your question means that you weren't sure we'd understand you intended meaning...)

    Either:
    ...not only his best friend told everyone, but so did his mother.
    or:
    ...not only his best friend, but also his mother, told everyone. (a little clumsy/awkward)


    As for the "that" question, I think I see what you are saying Forero:

    "It was kind of sad that (not only did his best friend tell everyone), but also that he lost his virginity to..." condenses to:

    It was sad that A, but also that B. (This does not make sense since the "but also" seems to pop up out of nowhere.) The condensed structure should be:

    It was sad not only that A, but also that B.
    Not only was it sad that A, but also that B. (alternately)
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    ...not only his best friend told everyone, but so did his mother.
    This should be:

    ... not only did his best friend tell everyone, but so did his mother.
    or
    ... not only did his best friend tell everyone, but his mother did too.

    Another possibility:

    The saddest thing is that it was not only his best friend that told everyone, but (it was) his mother too.
    It was sad not only that A, but also that B.
    Not only was it sad that A, but also that B. (alternately)
    :thumbsup:
     
    Last edited:

    mtmjr

    Senior Member
    English (US)
    ...not only his best friend told everyone, but so did his mother.
    I understand what you are saying and I agree that the two constructions you suggest sound better and are more idiomatic/natural, but I can't help but wonder if the construction in the sentence above is grammatically wrong...

    This should be:

    ... not only did his best friend tell everyone, but so did his mother.
    or
    ... not only did his best friend tell everyone, but his mother did too.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    When "not only" governs an entire clause, the subject and verb invert to get the negating adverb "not" closer to the finite verb (the verb with the tense and mode). Without the intervening word "only", the "not" would immediately follow the finite verb or attach to it as "-n't" in order to negate the entire clause.
     
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