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この女の人はペンチではなく、ハンマーを使っています。

I believe the sentence means "The woman is using a hammer, not a pliers". But I couldn't understand ではなく, how is this structure formed?

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    In linguistics, this is sometimes called "metalinguistic negation". "Metalinguistic comparison" is a related concept: 先生というより学者だ ("[He] is more a scholar than a teacher.") – snailcar Apr 16 '17 at 5:00
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  • で: The continuative form of the copula だ.
  • は: The topic/contrast marker は, which is optional but is usually placed here. では can be contracted to じゃ in casual settings.
  • なく: The continuative form of ない.
  • (て): なく can be followed by an optional て. In casual conversation て tends to be used, and in formal essays て tends to be dropped.

Put together this literally means "not being ~". Practically this can be used wherever a noun can be used in a sentence, and means "not ~ (but ~)". This can be used with adverbs, too.

  • 彼ではなく私がやりました。 = 彼じゃなくて私がやりました。
  • 彼は壁を赤くではなく青く塗った。
  • ゆっくりではなく、急いで来てください。

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