Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"
Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"

You know you can increase your grammar score on IELTS with complex sentence structures.

However, do you know if you’re doing it correctly?

Many of our students use impressive grammar structures.

Unfortunately, it’s very easy to make mistakes with these!

Today you’ll learn how to use ‘not only, but also’ in two different ways for Band 9 Grammar.

For the ONLY grammar strategies you need on the IELTS exam, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS!

Speaking Part 1 slang: caszh

It’s casual day here at IELTS Energy!

You can watch this episode on our YouTube channel, IELTS Energy TV to see our caszh outfits.

  • Caszh: Slang shortening of ‘casual’

This is great slang for Speaking Part 1!

Questions often come up about clothing.

You can say you prefer caszh sweats and comfy clothes!

If describing your home, you can also say you like a caszh ambiance when describing decor.

Question #1: Is this sentence correct?

A student submitted a sentence with ‘not only, but also’ and asked if it was correct.

“Houses are not only capable of creating a warm and cozy environment, but also bear invaluable past events in their concrete walls and their structures as a whole.”

Yes, this sentence is correct!

Not only is it correct, but it also has very impressive grammar and vocabulary.

We’ll break it down so you can use this grammar and vocab on IELTS!

#1 Warm and cozy environment

A common topic for IELTS Speaking questions is about your accommodation.

You need high level ways to describe where you live.

  • cozy: comfortable, warm and inviting

Homes can be described as cozy, but also sweaters, fireplaces, blankets etc.

Additionally, using these adjectives to describe the word ‘environment’ is much higher level than a simple sentence such as:

My house is warm and cozy.

Opt for this native, natural way to describe the place you live!

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#2: High level verbs

Both ‘capable of’ and ‘bear’ are high level verbs because students don’t use them often.

  • capable of: phrasal verb meaning able

This is impressive to say a home is ‘capable of’ making an environment comfortable.

It can be used in many other ways as well!

I am capable of making my own decisions.

  • bear: carry or have

Saying a home ‘bears’ something in its walls means it has in its walls.

You’ll often hear this with the expression ‘bear in mind’ which means to be aware of or remember something.

Bear in mind, I wasn’t always this cautious!

#3 Bear past events in walls

This idea of memories or events being held in walls is idiomatic and poetic.

It indicates that homes retain memories for people.

These memories are ‘in the walls.’

Aubrey shares a recommendation for a film where this idea is shown.

It is “The Unforgivable” with Sandra Bullock.

In it, her character revisits her childhood home and recalls powerful memories that are ‘held in its walls.’

This would be high-scoring and impressive on IELTS Speaking.

You can describe the memories that are held in the walls of your childhood home or current home.

Tricky grammar: Not only, but also

With this grammar structure, the subject and verb are inverted after ‘not only.’

Think of it as using ‘not only’ followed by a question structure.

You must also have an auxiliary or ‘helping’ verb, such as ‘do’ or ‘can.’

Not only do you need to invert the subject and verb, but also you must use an auxiliary verb.

We often see this grammar structure used incorrectly.

  • Wrong: Not only we decrease pollution, but also we save lives.

Notice the auxiliary very is missing!

Without it, the grammar is incorrect.

First use: to start a sentence

Not only, but also can be used to begin a sentence.

Format: Not only + question structure with auxiliary verb

The ‘question structure’ is like a question: Do we decrease pollution?

Not only do we decrease pollution, but also…

Second use: middle of a sentence

You must make sure to use parallel grammar.

The verb tenses must mirror both clauses, before and after ‘but.’

A verb is needed in the second clause as well.

Many students leave it out!

  • Wrong: They are not only very smart, but also are good looking.
  • Right: They are not only very smart, but also good looking.

Understanding the IELTS grammar score

For 7+ on the grammar score, you need a variety of grammar structures.

Many students spend time learning a myriad of difficult verb tenses.

This can be a waste of time!

You can satisfy this requirement with the following:

  • Simple sentences
  • Compound sentences
  • Complex sentences

This is why we often tell students to spend their time improving the other scores.

It can take as much of a year to go from band 6 to band 7 grammar.

A grammar structure such as ‘not only, but also’ can boost your grammar score higher.

However, if you use it incorrectly, it can lower it!

It is vital that you use it correctly.


The ‘not only, but also’ grammar structure can boost your grammar score.

However, if used incorrectly, it can hurt your score!

Today’s tips will help you use it accurately.

Be sure to invert the subject and verb and use parallel structure.

Examine our example sentences to see how it’s used correctly!

For more grammar tips and strategies for every part of the exam, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

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