Distributive Property

I had a follow-up question about yesterday’s tip on “not only … but also.”
Khalaf from Oman writes:
“Small question: is it correct to add the word “he” in the second sentence or delete the word “it” in the first sentence?”

1)  This technique not only increases the oil production rate, but it also increases ultimate recovery.

2)  He is not only a great swimmer, but he is also a great musician.

Thanks for asking, Khalaf.
Let me answer in mathematical terms, specifically the “distributive property.”
X (Y + Z) = XY + XZ

Without the word “it” added, the first sentence has the subject “this technique” distributed over the predicates “increases the oil production rate” and “increases ultimate recovery.” In English teacher parlance, this is a single subject with a compound predicate.

By including the word “it” you are giving the second predicate its own subject, which equals and takes the place of “technique.”  In math parlance, X = technique = it. In English teacher parlance, you have a compound sentence with two subjects each with its own predicate.

In math-speak, the second sentence has X = “He is” and Y = “great swimmer” and Z = “great musician.”

Both the distributed and non-distributed sentences are equivalent in meaning, but because “less is more” is the rule in writing, therefore the X(Y+Z) form would be preferred – even though “less is more” makes no mathematical sense!

I hope this explains things clearly.

Profound Quote of the Day:

“Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.”
– Albert Einstein, German physicist, 1879-1955


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