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    #1

    Question 'only to find him... talking to Jobs'

    Hello,

    What is the meaning of 'only' here? Does the meaning of the sentence remain same without 'only'?

    Brockington, his longtime pal from childhood, recalls visiting the Forstall family last year only to find Forstall lying on his hammock on a Sunday, talking to Jobs on the phone.
    Thank you

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: 'only to find him... talking to Jobs'

    Quote Originally Posted by Olympian View Post
    Hello,

    What is the meaning of 'only' here? Does the meaning of the sentence remain same without 'only'?

    Brockington, his longtime pal from childhood, recalls visiting the Forstall family last year only to find Forstall lying on his hammock on a Sunday, talking to Jobs on the phone.
    Thank you

    It's wrongly used there. It really means 'recalled visiting... and finding'

    'Only to...' is used to express a surprise end to an often long process. To give an example from a children's book I know only too [that's a different sort - ahem] well:
    'Father Chiristmas looked everywhere for his mittens - in the reindeers' stable, beside the 'phone, in the elves' workshop ... - only to find them, at the end of all that, in his back pocket.'

    b

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    #3

    Re: 'only to find him... talking to Jobs'

    [QUOTE=Olympian;811750]

    What is the meaning of 'only' here? Does the meaning of the sentence remain same without 'only'?
    Brockington recalls visiting the Forstall family last year, only to find Forstall lying on his hammock.
    (I have simplified your sentence for easier analysis.)
    NOT A TEACHER


    (1) As I type this, no one else has started. So may I have the honor? This strange construction confuses learners and some native speakers such as I.

    (2) First, consider what Professors Quirk and Greenbaum said in their A Concise Grammar of Contemporary Grammar (1973).

    (a) They pointed out that "I awoke one morning to find the house in an uproar" is

    about the same as "When I awoke one morning, I found the house in an uproar."

    (3) Now let's check Mr. L.G. Alexander's Longman English Grammar.

    (a) He gives this example "We came home after our holiday to find our garden neat and tidy." He says this = We came home after our holiday and found our garden neat and tidy."

    (b) He then tells us that we can add "only" to the front of the infinitive if we wish to emphasize that the event is unexpected or unwelcome.

    (i) His example: He returned after the war, (only) to be told that his wife had left him.

    (a) You notice that Mr. Alexander put "only" in parentheses. Therefore, it is optional.

    NOTES: (1) If you use "only," most writers seem to use a comma (pause). If there is no "only," then no comma is used.

    (b) Personally speaking, I do not like "He returned after the war to be told that his wife had left him." On the first quick reading, maybe it could be misinterpreted as the reason for his return! Most books reassure us that this is a clause of result.

    (c) Finally, can the "only" be deleted in your posted sentence? We non-teachers have

    been told not to post any answers unless we are reasonably sure that the answers are

    correct. I do not have the confidence to answer this question. Along with you, I shall

    wait for a teacher's accurate answer.


    EDIT:

    I typed this before I saw Moderator Bob's excellent answer.

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    #4

    Re: 'only to find him... talking to Jobs'

    @BobK, Thank you. I was not expecting that it is wrongly used! Non-English speakers try to learn by reading from various books/articles, only to find that sometimes the authors are wrong! Did I use it correctly here? Can I say ".... only to sometimes find that the authors are wrong"?

    @TheParser, thank you for taking the trouble to type the examples from the reference books. Thanks for pointing out the comma if 'only' is used.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: 'only to find him... talking to Jobs'

    Quote Originally Posted by Olympian View Post
    @BobK, Thank you. I was not expecting that it is wrongly used! Non-English speakers try to learn by reading from various books/articles, only to find that sometimes the authors are wrong! Did I use it correctly here? Can I say ".... only to sometimes find that the authors are wrong"?

    ...

    b

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