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  1. #11
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    Re: only - word-order; just

    Quote Originally Posted by Humble View Post
    Hi,
    What Robert explained coincides with the way we use only in Russian Ė it is placed in front of the word it emphasizes. It might be AmE, because Iíve read it usually comes before verbs.
    Oh, M.Swan does have it, too:

    ďOnly normally comes before a subject it refers to.
    Only you could do a thing like that.
    When only refers to another part of a sentence,it often goes in mid-position with the verb.
    Iíve only been to India once.Ē

    So I think you only need to stress the word it refers to by means of intonation in order to be understood correctly.
    She only drinks milk.
    There have only been two visitors.

    Regards
    Thanks, Humble...

    Do you mean that the rule of where "only" should be placed written by Robert B. Mercer (in this thread) is incorrect in BrE (but not in AmE)?


    1. I kissed ONLY Jane.
    2. I ONLY kissed Jane.
    3. ONLY I kissed Jane.

    1: I kissed ONLY Jane, I did not kiss Debby, or Susan, or Amy.
    2: I ONLY kissed Jane, I did not kick Jane, or hit Jane, or see Jane.
    3: ONLY I kissed Jane, Tom did not kiss Jane, David did not kiss Jane, I was the single boy who kissed Jane.

  2. #12
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: only - word-order; just

    1. I kissed ONLY Jane.
    2. I ONLY kissed Jane.
    3. ONLY I kissed Jane.

    1: I kissed ONLY Jane, I did not kiss Debby, or Susan, or Amy.
    2: I ONLY kissed Jane, I did not kick Jane, or hit Jane, or see Jane.
    3: ONLY I kissed Jane, Tom did not kiss Jane, David did not kiss Jane, I was the single boy who kissed Jane.

    These are fine in BrE.

  3. #13
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    Re: only - word-order; just

    No, no, Lenka,
    Who am I to judge? It might be AmE, but I don't know for sure.
    Note that Swan says it often goes in mid-position, which means not always.

  4. #14
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: only - word-order; just

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    ...
    How does the word order of word ONLY influence the sense of a sentence?...
    There's a strong tendency, which I would regard as on the whole prescriptive, to move the 'only' around in order to change the sense. Examiners will almost certainly enforce it.

    In most colloquial speech, native speakers (in BE) don't pay too much attention to the position of 'only', and use stress to make the meaning clear. So, in an exam, you should write things like 'I kissed only Jane'; but colloquially it's more common in the UK to say 'I only kissed Jane' - with sentence stress on 'Jane' - and to change the word order only in cases of extreme emphasis (say, if you're misunderstood the first time).

    b

  5. #15
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    Re: only - word-order; just

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    I've come across an exercise (for (which preposition should I use here?) word order) today - here it is:

    Complete the sentences. Use the words in brackets in the correct order.

    My eyesight isn't very good. I _____________ with glasses. (read / can / only)

    The key (at the end of the book) says "can only read" is the correct answer.

    And my question is, why is only used before the verb read, while the word only (it is an adverb, I suppose, right?) should emphasize "with glasses". => I can read ONLY with glasses - not with a magnifying glass or only my own eyes.
    If say "I can only read with glasses", it sounds to me like "I can use my glasses only for reading - not eating (I can't use it as a spoon or a knife), not cleaning the bath etc.

    So, why is "only" put in front of the verb? Would it be correct to put it before the noun glasses?


    ...
    For the reason I gave in the previous post, Lenka. Most of the time, stress does the job. "I can only read with glasses" could (in a fairly extreme context) mean 'I can use my glasses only for reading [as opposed to appreciating art]', but in most cases the sentence stress will be on 'glasses'. Stress is of primary importance; as a last resort, colloquial usage moves the word order around. But it's only sticklers for extreme grammatical precision who use word order as a primary marker for the meaning of 'only'.

    b

  6. #16
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    Re: only - word-order; just

    Thank you all for your replies!

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    There's a strong tendency, which I would regard as on the whole prescriptive, to move the 'only' around in order to change the sense. Examiners will almost certainly enforce it.

    In most colloquial speech, native speakers (in BE) don't pay too much attention to the position of 'only', and use stress to make the meaning clear. So, in an exam, you should write things like 'I kissed only Jane'; but colloquially it's more common in the UK to say 'I only kissed Jane' - with sentence stress on 'Jane' - and to change the word order only in cases of extreme emphasis (say, if you're misunderstood the first time).

    b

    If the position before the verb (while emphasizing the object) is rather colloquial, why is it (the correct solution or answer to the exercise below) written in the back part (in the key) of the book? I haven't mentioned it yet - I have got the exercise from R. Murphy: English Grammar in Use...

    Complete the sentences. Use the words in brackets in the correct order.

    My eyesight isn't very good. I _____________ with glasses. (read / can / only)


    The key (at the end of the book) says "can only read" is the correct answer.



    Anyway, it seems very odd to me... If it is more common for you to use it in front of the verb (even if you want to emphasize the object), how do you recognise (in a written text - not a speech) which word is being stressed, actually? Do you have to write it in Italics, then? (By the way, should I say "write it IN Italics? Is it correct?)

  7. #17
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    Re: only - word-order; just

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    ...Anyway, it seems very odd to me... If it is more common for you to use it in front of the verb (even if you want to emphasize the object), how do you recognise (in a written text - not a speech) which word is being stressed, actually? Do you have to write it in Italics, then? (By the way, should I say "write it IN Italics? Is it correct?)[/COLOR]
    Yes, it's odd, and it must be very unsatisfactory for someone with your linguistic background Lenka. In writing, people do move 'only' around, as Tdol and others have said - or they use some other paraphrase (as you did yourself, very successfully, in posing the original question). But in speech, they use stress (if you use word order, you won't be thought wrong, or misunderstood; people may feel you're being inappropriately formal though).

    The phrase 'write it in Italics' is fine; you could also say 'italicize it'.

    b

    PS
    Don't be disappointed by my '...' in your quoted text. If you scroll back, you'll see that I answered it before you asked! (Maybe I'm psychic, or maybe the forum software is doing odd things with the ordering of posts.)

  8. #18
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    Re: only - word-order; just

    OK, thank you, Bob!

    What do you mean by "Don't be disappointed by my '...' in your quoted text." ?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    PS
    Don't be disappointed by my '...' in your quoted text. If you scroll back, you'll see that I answered it before you asked! (Maybe I'm psychic, or maybe the forum software is doing odd things with the ordering of posts.)

    We have both (or "we both have"?) probably send our posts in the same time... It's a good coincidence...

  9. #19
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    Re: only - word-order; just

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    OK, thank you, Bob!

    What do you mean by "Don't be disappointed by my '...' in your quoted text." ?
    I meant "Don't think I'm ignoring your main question."


    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    We have both (or "we both have"?) probably send our posts in the same time... It's a good coincidence...
    Interesting... I hadn't noticed that before:

    We have both sent... [have is an auxiliary verb]
    We both have computers. [have is a lexical verb, denoting possession]
    and
    We both have to eat. [have to is a lexical verb, denoting obligation]; this order is normal, but the 'both' can move if there are two complements: We have both to eat and to drink - it'd be more colloquial, though, in this case, to say 'We have to both eat and drink'.

    We both sent our posts at the same time.

    b
    Last edited by BobK; 02-Mar-2007 at 16:29.

  10. #20
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    Re: only - word-order; just

    Thanks a lot, Bob! :)

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