Friday, September 16, 2011


Only = (1) being the only one; single: ‘She is the only child of her parents.’ (2) without any others being included or involved: ‘This job is assigned to him only.’ (3) exclusive of anyone or anything else: ‘I want to buy this dress and this dress only.’ (4) as recently as: ‘I spoke to him only half an hour ago.’

To avoid confusion in written English, only is usually placed as near as possible to the word or phrase that it modifies. Compare: ‘Alison only posted the letter to Mr. Jones.’ (=she didn’t write it) ‘Alison posted only the letter to Mr. Jones.’ (=she didn’t post the other letters)

In spoken English, the position of only is less important because the speaker uses stress to make the meaning clear.

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