Oiling the Gears – Tutorial No. 1

Thank you for visiting my business writing blog

There’s a category of editing I think of as ‘oiling the gears’. This is basically fine-tuning phrases or clauses that are linked in some way.

Linked phrases include those found with ‘relative conjunctions’ like these:

‘not only … but also …’     ‘both … and …’     ‘either … or …’     ‘… but not …’

To check if your relative conjunctions are creaking or clanking, make sure the word after the first part of the conjunction set is grammatically the same as the word after the second part. And whenever possible, make all the words after each part follow the same grammatical and syntactical structure.

For example:

We have not only improved the design but also the materials

Stripped to its essentials, the sentence reads, ‘We have not only improved … but also the.

The conjunction ‘not only’ is followed by a verb, but the conjunction ‘but also’ is followed by an article. It clanks and jerks like a junk car. But move ‘improved’ out of the way, and the sentence glides along like a limousine:

We have improved not only the design but also the materials.

Now the ‘not only’ component is followed by an article and a noun; and the ‘but also’ component is followed by the same structure — an article and a noun.

(GRAMMAR GEEKS: Note that in the original draft, ‘not only’ split the verb, ‘have improved’. This is often the case when relative conjunctions go “clank”.)

See another example worked and explained in the video. And thank you again for taking the time to visit.


About Copymentor

Australian and US copywriter, creative director and author
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