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    • Join Date: May 2007
    • Posts: 25
    #1

    Use of the Adverb "only"

    Hi Can anyone help

    I am having problems with using the adverb "only" in the folloing questions. Can someone review my answers please?

    • John had three pencils and lost two.
    • No other girl but Ellen was late for school.
    • Sam was the youngest in his class, as he was seven and all the others were eight or more years old.
    • It rained on Wednesday. Every other day in the week was fine.
    • If you asked me I could have gone with you.
    • There had been two hundred thousand soldiers in the army. But half of them now remained after the battle.
    My answers (with"only" underlined).

    • John had three pencils and only lost two.
    • No other girl but Ellen was only late for school.
    • Sam was the youngest in his class, as he was only seven and all the others were eight or more years old.
    • It only rained on Wednesday. Every other day in the week was fine.
    • If you only asked me I could have gone with you.
    • There had been two hundred thousand soldiers in the army. But only half of them now remained after the battle.

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #2

    Re: Use of the Adverb "only"


    Good try, but only one of them is right. The rest need more work.


    • Join Date: May 2007
    • Posts: 25
    #3

    Re: Use of the Adverb "only"

    Hi Casiopea

    Does the adverb "only" precede the verb or noun, or does it follow just after it?

    My NEW answers (with"only" underlined).


    • John only had three pencils and lost two.
    • No other girl but Ellen only was late for school.
    • Sam was the youngest in his class, as he was only seven and all the others were eight or more years old.
    • It rained on Wednesday only . Every other day in the week was fine.
    • If you only asked me I could have gone with you.
    • There had been two hundred thousand soldiers in the army. But only half of them now remained after the battle.

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #4

    Re: Use of the Adverb "only"

    Quote Originally Posted by sohala View Post
    Hi Casiopea


    Does the adverb "only" precede the verb or noun, or does it follow just after it?
    Only modifies the word that comes directly after it. Let's look at one of your examples:
    1. It only rained on Wednesday.

    Meaning, it only rained, it didn't thunder.


    2. It rained only on Wednesday.

    Meaning, it rained on that day, not on Monday or Tuesday, etc.

    Does that help?

    ____________________
    Please be reminded, we do not do homework assignments or provide answers to tests, but we are more than happy to guide you towards a better undestanding of the grammar.


    • Join Date: May 2007
    • Posts: 25
    #5

    Re: Use of the Adverb "only"

    Thankyou Casiopea

    Please be reminded that I am a 41 year old man who is ploughing through four text books of English Language. I am preparing the answers so my chilkdren can use them in a few years time. It is not for homework. The books are published by the publishers who produce the New First Aid in English. Unfortunatley, they do not produce answers for the books I possess.

  3. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #6

    Re: Use of the Adverb "only"

    Would this help?

    1. John had only three pencils and he lost two.

    2. No other girl, only Ellen, was late for school.

    3. Sam was the youngest in his class, as he was only seven and all the others were eight or more years old.

    4. It rained only on Wednesday. Every other day in the week was fine.

    5. If only you had asked me, then I could have gone with you.

    6. There had been two hundred thousand soldiers in the army. But only half of them now remained after the battle.

  4. #7

    Re: Use of the Adverb "only"

    Ok, let's try to fix this:


    The problem with some uses of "only" is that is is subjective, it is used to show that you think something lis less than it should be, and others may agree with you or not, or have a different opinion.

    For this reason, there are actually many grammatically correct answers to your practise sentences, it just depends on what you are trying to say.

    Also, you seem to believe that each problem can be solved by inserting "only" somewhere in the sentence, but this seems to not be the case.

    • John only had three pencils and lost two.(John)
    -Your first answer was correct also, it just depends on what you want to say. You could say: Mary lost every single pencil she had; John had three pencils, and only lost two.

    But the first answer is better, when something decreases bya majority, we should not say "only".
    He had 200 dollars and only lost 150. (wrong)
    He had ten books and only sold four. (right)
    • No other girl but Ellen only was late for school.
    -"Only" can mean "no other" I think the best answer here would be: Only Ellen (and no other girl) was late for school.
    • Sam was the youngest in his class, as he was only seven and all the others were eight or more years old.
    -This is correct, "only" here means we feel the number (age) is not enough, smaller/less in comparison.
    • It rained on Wednesday only . Every other day in the week was fine.
    -I disagree with the other poster. Without the second sentence "It only rained on Wednesday" could mean "it only rained, and did not thunder" but the second sentence is there to clarify.

    Only belongs before rained, meaning it rained on Wednesday (and no other day). In English the adverb can sometimes be placed before or after the verb, we could say "It rained only on Wednesday." but this makes our sentence convoluted, and less clear.

    In reality, we would never use this sentence alone, so it is clear that "It only rained on Wednesday" means "and not on any other day".
    • If you only asked me I could have gone with you.
    -This is a colloquial use of "only" and does not really have any of the original meanings (this alone, and not that, a number that is smaller than expected, or too small). Here it means it would have been better or simpler to do the action, it is always placed immediately before the verb or verb phrase, and can be replaced (colloquially) with "just".

    i.e.: "If you just asked me, I could have gone with you."

    • There had been two hundred thousand soldiers in the army. But only half of them now remained after the battle.
    Here I have to wonder which book you are using, there are a few things wrong with this sentence, mainly it uses a conjunction (but) to begin the second sentence and it confuses verb tenses (they now remained/ now they remained). This may be some oddity of British English, perhaps.

    Again, your placement of only seems correct. I would completely restructure the sentence as follows:

    There had been two hundred thousand soldiers in the army, but now(,)
    after the battle, only half of them remain.

    -OR-

    There had been two hundred thousand soldiers in the army, but after the battle, only half of them remained.

    I moved the phrase of time because it's clear the sentence is trying to emphasise that things are different after the battle: but now, after the battle...

    and not "they remained, after the battle" we are not emphasising that they remained.


    • Join Date: May 2007
    • Posts: 25
    #8

    Re: Use of the Adverb "only"

    Many thanks to you both.

  5. #9

    Re: Use of the Adverb "only"

    Also, just to be nice and complete, let's review all the functions of "only" that weve come across.

    First, look at the word, we can see the root "on. (one)" in the adverb. It is similar to "solely" meaning "the only one" and this is probably the earliest meaning.

    Only (1)the only one
    "Only we can save you, no one else."
    "He is the only one who can operate it."
    "This car is the only one of its kind."
    "When you get there, speak to him only."
    "You don't have to pay, you only have to register."

    (2)something that the speaker feels is too small, or
    smaller or less than expected.

    "He should have given me four, I only got three."
    "When he came back from the war, he only had one arm."
    "Most people lost two arms, he only lost one."
    "I wanted him to compensate me for the accident, he only apologised."

    (2a)something that is smaller by comparison to
    the same number/amount.

    "There used to be many parks here, now there are only a few."
    "We started with ten suggestions, but now we only have nine left."

    (3)informally, to express that an action is simple or easy
    "You have only but to call, and I will come." (You just have to call.)
    (NOT "You only have to call." which means you don't have to do anything else (1))
    "If you only tried harder, you would be a much better athelete." (You just have to try harder.)
    (NOT "You only have to try harder" which means, you don't have to do anything else (1))

    This use of only is often imaginary, a situation which has not happened but which could.

    So, did I miss any?

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