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    • Join Date: May 2005
    • Posts: 2
    #1

    structure

    Dear teacher/s
    I submit the following 'question' in the hope that You will be able to answer me exhaustively both from a grammar point a view an why it is so:
    Few days ago a friend of mine noticed a t-shirt with the following catch phrase:
    'Not only am I perfect, I'm Italian too'. It was obviously an adaption of "others" adjectives ( English, American, Southerner).
    Now I know it's correct to not only am I - opposed to " not only I am" but that is only because I have learned it in UK; he caught me off guard and my wife's explanation left me in the dark even more;I do however owe my friend an explanation.
    Help me please! : -( The friend in question is a fellow teacher ( albeit in Italian literature) and he is also a knowledgeable philosopher and I would be grateful if you could answer my question.
    Thanks in advance;
    with all my gratitude;
    I'll be waiting anxiously for the light to come upon my humble person.
    P.S. by the way shouldn't a comma be added :not only am I perfect, I'm Italian (HERE???) too.

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    #2

    Re: structure

    I'm afraid that there is not a great deal to say- we invert subject and verb after certain words and phrases- some adverbs (never, seldom) and some negative phrases (not only, not once). Some say that changing the word order allows for a change in emphasis. It is also fairly arbitrary- we can say 'never have I', but we don't use 'always have I'.

    However, they do benefit teachers as they keep us in a job teaching them to advanced learners. There's also the groupd where the second verb inverts:
    Only when you are Italian, are you perfect.



    • Join Date: Jan 2007
    • Posts: 289
    #3

    Re: structure

    Quote Originally Posted by amadeuswolf View Post
    Dear teacher/s
    I submit the following 'question' in the hope that You will be able to answer me exhaustively both from a grammar point a view an why it is so:
    Few days ago a friend of mine noticed a t-shirt with the following catch phrase:
    'Not only am I perfect, I'm Italian too'.
    Tdol has already done a perfect job. In case you still have doubts, here is my humble version. The base sentence should go like this:

    1. I am not only perfect, but also I'm Italian.

    And if we move the negative adverbial phrase "not only" to the beginning of a sentence, we have to invert the principal clause. Thus, we get:

    2. Not only am I perfect, but also I'm Italian.

    They further play on the compound coordinator "not only...but also" a little bit by leaving out "but also" and adding "too" at the end; thus we get:

    3. Not only am I perfect, I'm Italian too.



  1. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #4

    Re: structure

    Additionally,

    Sentences with a negative word at the beginning
    This pattern is used to emphasize the negative element of the
    sentence. When a negative word begins a sentence, the subject and verb
    are inverted. The question word order is used.

    The negative words used in this pattern are:
    Never, rarely, seldom, hardly (ever), scarcely (ever), barely (ever)
    Hardly ever, scarcely ever, and barely ever mean almost never.

    Never will I think like that again.
    Rarely have I seen him.
    Hardly ever does he come on time.


    Subjects and verbs are inverted after “nor”, and “and neither”
    He couldn’t come yesterday, nor can he come today
    She doesn’t like running, and neither does her friends.



    Correlative clauses
    Inversion occurs in negative correlative clauses beginning with 'not only....but' or 'not merely....but'

    Not only is Mrs.Tulowski overbearing, but she seems to exude this air of fake confidence.

    Not only must he take full responsibility, but he also has to undo whatever harm he has done.

    Not merely have they pre-planned everything excellently, but also executed the tasks most splendidly.


    Inversion after negative adverbials
    • after only + a time expression, as in only after, only later, only once, only then, only when:

    She bought a newspaper and some sweets at the shop on the corner. Only later did she realise that she'd been given the wrong change.
    Only once did / go to the opera in the whole time I was in Italy.


    • after only + other prepositional phrases beginning only by..., only in..., only with..., etc.:

    Only by chance had Jameson discovered where the birds were nesting.
    Mary had to work at evenings and weekends. Only in this way was she able to complete the report by the deadline.


    • after expressions with preposition + no, such as at no time, in no way, on no account, under/in no circumstances:

    At no time did they actually break the rules of the game.
    Under no circumstances are passengers permitted to open the doors themselves.


    • after expressions with not..., such as not only, not until, and also not + object:

    Not until August did the government order an inquiry into the accident.
    Not a single word had she written since the exam had started.


    • after little with a negative meaning:

    Little do they know how lucky they are to live in such a wonderful house.
    Little did / then realise the day would come when Michael would be famous.


    All the best.


    • Join Date: May 2005
    • Posts: 2
    #5

    Re: structure

    To all concerned: thank you for the enlightening explanation; I'm sorry I for my late reply (AND THANKS); health problems have been forcing me to reconsider my priorities. Your help though has not been in any way overlooked.
    My friend thirst for knowledge has been fully satisfied; I hope I haven't opened the floodgates!
    Thanks again!

    • Member Info
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      • British English
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    #6

    Re: structure

    You're welcome and I hope you get well soon.

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