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    #1

    if only/only if

    The world is full of wonders, ________ (if only/only if) we open our eyes to see them.

    The given answer is 'only if'. But I should think 'if only' is the answer, and we can say 'if only we open our eyes to see them' or 'if we only open our eyes to see them'. Am I right?

    (I got the notion that here 'if only' should be used from a sentence in L. G. Alexander's LONGMAN ENGLISH GRAMMAR:
    If only he gets this job it will make a great deal of difference. )

    Thank you in advance.
    Last edited by joham; 08-Apr-2012 at 12:18.

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: if only/only if

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    The world is full of wonders, ________ (if only/only if) we open our eyes to see them.

    The given answer is 'only if'. But I should think 'if only' is the answer, and we can say 'if only we open our eyes to see them' or 'if we only open our eyes to see them'. Am I right?

    Thank you in advance.
    I'd say "if only" is correct. You could also say "if we only".

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: if only/only if

    To say 'The world is full of wonders only if we open our eyes to see them' is to say something different - that things become wonders only as a result of our looking at them - a philosophically dubious assertion.

    b

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    #4

    Re: if only/only if

    Thank you very much for your quick answer, bhai and Bobk and Barb. Are you saying that both 'if only' and 'only if' are correct?

    Sorry, Bob. I had just sent this post when I saw your reply. I got to know 'only if' is not correct in the common sense here.
    Thank you again.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: if only/only if

    They can both be fitted into the sentence, but "if only" is far more likely. Using "only if" would result in what Bob described as a "philosophically dubious assertion" - such a thing would have no real place in an English exercise.

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    #6

    Re: if only/only if

    A dictionary allows quick access to the meaning of a word only if one knows how to spell the word.

    The above sentence is taken from a TOEFL test. Can we change the 'only if' into 'if only' without changing the meaning of the sentence?

    Thank you again.
    Last edited by joham; 20-Apr-2012 at 06:48. Reason: two words added.

  4. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: if only/only if

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    A dictionary allows quick access to the meaning of a word only if one knows how to spell the word.

    The above sentence is taken from a TOEFL test. Can we change the 'only if' into 'if only' without changing the meaning of the sentence?

    Thank you again.
    Not really, no.

    A dictionary allows access to the meaning of a word. If only I knew how to spell the word [I want to look up].
    Meaning: I know that a dictionary gives the meaning of words. Unfortunately, I don't know how to spell the word. Oh, I wish I knew how to spell it. (Note that this would really have to be split into two sentences.)

    A dictionary allows access to the meaning of a word only if you know how to spell the word.
    Meaning: There is only one requirement in order to look up a word in a dictionary and that is that you know how to spell it.

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    #8

    Re: if only/only if

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Not really, no.

    A dictionary allows access to the meaning of a word. If only I knew how to spell the word [I want to look up].
    Meaning: I know that a dictionary gives the meaning of words. Unfortunately, I don't know how to spell the word. Oh, I wish I knew how to spell it. (Note that this would really have to be split into two sentences.)

    A dictionary allows access to the meaning of a word only if you know how to spell the word.
    Meaning: There is only one requirement in order to look up a word in a dictionary and that is that you know how to spell it.
    Thanks a lot for your help, emsr2d2. From your reply, can I see in this way that here "the word" is determining the choice? Could I ask further:
    How about: A dictionary allows access to the meaning of a word only if/if only you know how to spell a word.


    Thank you again.

  5. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: if only/only if

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    Thanks a lot for your help, emsr2d2. From your reply, can I see in this way that here "the word" is determining the choice? Could I ask further:
    How about: A dictionary allows access to the meaning of a word only if/if only you know how to spell a word.


    Thank you again.
    "A dictionary allows access to the meaning of a word only if you know how to spell it."

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    #10

    Re: if only/only if

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    "A dictionary allows access to the meaning of a word only if you know how to spell it."

    The world is full of wonders, ________ (if only/only if) we open our eyes to see them.

    In my original post, the teachers here insisted that 'if only' is the answer to 'The world is full of wonders, ________ (if only/only if) we open our eyes to see them'.

    So I now feel confused about the meaning and usage of these two phrases because it seems to me that the two sentences are very similar. Could you take trouble to give some more explanation? Thank you very very much in advance.

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