[General] "Only" is used as "but"

arjitsharma

Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2014
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Hindi
Home Country
India
Current Location
India
I heard many natives say "only" instead of "but". For example, "I would make the payment only I don't have money".
I would like to know when I should say "only" instead of "but"?
 

Matthew Wai

VIP Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2013
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
China
Current Location
China
1. I want to pay, only I have no money.
2. The photo looks good, only the background is too bright.
3. He is clever, only lazy.
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
Matthew's examples are all OK in BrE but none of them is an example of when one should say "only" instead of "but", which is what you asked us for. In all three, both "but" and "only" are OK.
 

Matthew Wai

VIP Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2013
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
China
Current Location
China

GoesStation

No Longer With Us
Joined
Dec 22, 2015
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
American English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
British English speakers often use "only" to introduce a sentence that supplements the previous one:

I see you're getting ready to drive somewhere. Only I don't know if you've noticed you've got a flat.

(I'm not sure this is idiomatic British English, but it illustrates the usage.) American English doesn't use this construction, which is casual, conversational BrE, not used in writing.
 
Top