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    #1

    'He only eats ice-cream.' vs 'He eats only ice-cream.' What is difference in nuance?

    I'm reading online article about Misplaced modifier and I can't quite understand the difference between these two sentences.

    'He only eats ice-cream.' vs 'He eats only ice-cream.' What is the difference in nuance?

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    #2

    Re: 'He only eats ice-cream.' vs 'He eats only ice-cream.' What is difference in nuan

    The first sentence says that eating is the only thing he does with ice cream. He does not bathe in it, or use it for spackling his ceilings.

    The second says that the only thing he eats is ice cream. He does not eat bread or eggs or hamburgers.

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    #3

    Re: 'He only eats ice-cream.' vs 'He eats only ice-cream.' What is difference in nuan

    I am not a teacher.

    That's all perfectly true, but I'm not sure that this is the best example of a misplaced modifier, although I have seen this one before.

    Almost everyone I know would say the first of those sentences when they actually mean the second one.

    In the spoken language, unless the word 'eats' is heavily stressed in 'He only eats ice-cream', no-one would think it meant that eating was the only thing being done with the ice-cream.

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    #4

    Re: 'He only eats ice-cream.' vs 'He eats only ice-cream.' What is difference in nuan

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello, Drps:

    May I add my two bits (very humble opinion) to the excellent answers already received?

    1. According to the rules, one should place the word "only" close to the noun that you wish to emphasize:

    "I never eat pie, cake, or candy. I eat only ice cream."

    When you are writing, you should try to follow this rule.

    2. Like many other people, however, in speech (when I do not have time to consider the rules) I would no doubt say, "I only eat ice cream."

    a. So many people place "only" in that position that it has become the choice of most people (at least here in the States).

    3. Here is what one (American) expert says:

    a. "I'm going to say this only once" sounds unnatural (instead of: "I'm only going to say this once"). -- Patricia T. O'Conner, Woe Is I (1996 edition).
    .

    James
    Last edited by TheParser; 14-Nov-2014 at 21:20. Reason: punctuation

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    #5

    Re: 'He only eats ice-cream.' vs 'He eats only ice-cream.' What is difference in nuan

    We tend to go for the most logical interpretation, so few people would think that the first sentence meant that the person didn't bathe in ice cream. If the speaker meant that,they would probably state it as it's unusual. It's one of those things that is technically right, but widely ignored.

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