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  1. #1
    david11's Avatar
    david11 is offline Senior Member
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    Default only for- except for?

    My mom would never let me pay in front of her, only for a gift.


    One of my American friend wrote this. I wonder what "only for" means here. Does it mean "except for"?

    The context is that she express her surprise seeing some American families where the bills(say in super market ) were paid separately by mother and daughter. If the "only for" means that her mother would pay only for gifts and not other things then the context in which she wrote is a bit of contradictory because then it will have to mean that she had to pay for other things separately, as other American families, which she wonders.

    (The girl who wrote this is a teenager. So, I am sure how good teenagers grammar are, in America. So, I don't, safely, assume that just merely it is written by a native speaker it would be correct)

    Correction: I have misspelt except as expect n the thread title. I request moderators to change it.
    Last edited by david11; 19-Nov-2012 at 06:38. Reason: Added correction.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: only for- except for?

    It's not a very good sentence IMO, but it may be OK in AmE. I would use except for there.

  3. #3
    david11's Avatar
    david11 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: only for- except for?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    It's not a very good sentence IMO, but it may be OK in AmE. I would use except for there.
    Then, can we use "only for" to mean "except for"? (It may not be very good to use but atleast would it be grammatically correct? I haven't seen "only for" used in that way).

    (She didn't mention anything that can make us assume she meant "except for". It was my guess, in that given context, "except for" would suit.)

  4. #4
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: only for- except for?

    I understand the "only for" to mean "except for." I wouldn't use it in formal writing.

  5. #5
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: only for- except for?

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    I understand the "only for" to mean "except for." I wouldn't use it in formal writing.
    I can't make sense of it in writing either. Seems like something you'd say spontaneously: My mom would never let me pay in front of her... oh, um... only a gift, I mean, except if I were buying a gift.

    But even then, it doesn't make sense. If you're buying a gift for your mother, would you let her see you buy it in front of her?

    This is a mystery to me, and I'm the mother of two teenage American girls.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  6. #6
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: only for- except for?

    It doesn't have to be a surprise gift. Maybe she's getting her a carton of cigarettes for her birthday.

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