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Chinese Grammar: Different ways of saying “not only...but also.”

In Chinese, there are many ways of expressing “not only...but also...”. This is called a progressive relationship, also known as “递进 关系” in Chinese.

There are many types of structures like 不但/不仅/不只/而且// as conjunctive words to express “not only...but also”. Commonly they have similar structures and meanings, so let's today take a look at how to use these patterns to describe a progressive relationship in Chinese.


This is almost the most common one to express “not only...but also”. Usually, we can put words like adjectives, verbs or even short phrases after 不但 and 而且. When using this pattern, pay attention to balancing out the two different parts: both need to be about the same subject.


Subject + 不但 + Adj./Verb/Phrase, 而且 + Adj./Verb/Phrase


不但 漂亮而且 聪明
She is not only pretty but also smart.

不但 踢足球而且 打篮球
He not only plays soccer but also plays basketball.

不但 而且 很多
Not only can I eat rice, but can also eat it a lot.

You may already notice that in this pattern there is only one subject and always be placed in the front of a sentence. However, we can also use two different subjects to put each one of them after 不但 and 而且.


不但 + Subject 1 + Part1, 而且 + Subject 2 + Part2


不但 唱歌而且 唱歌
Not only can he sing, but I can also sing it.

不但 迟到 而且 大家 迟到
Not only did I arrive late, but everyone came late as well.

不但 周一 关门而且 周二 关门
It closes not only on Monday but also on Tuesday.

Other types to express “not only...but also”

You can also use other patterns to express it. Such as 不仅... and 不只... are also common usages as 不但...而且 and are used entirely the same way and has the same meanings.


Subject + 不仅/不只 + Part1, / + Part2


不仅 中文
Not only he speaks Chinese but also speaks pretty well.

不仅 中国 中国 女朋友
Not only did he go to China, but he also found a Chinese girlfriend.

不只 英文 唱法
Not only can she sing English songs, but she can also sing French songs.

不只 非常 干净
His house is not only big, but it's also spotless.

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