Daily Archives: September 20, 2009

The "only" problem

The word “only” is an adverb which we often use to denote “limited” or “not more”. The word has other meanings as well but let’s focus on its most common usage.

Observe these examples. Do these sentences have the same meaning?

  1. Only I eat durians.
  2. I eat only durians.
  3. I eat durians only.
  4. I only eat durians.

Indeed. the word “only” is most commonly used but it is also the most incorrectly used in a sentence. Its position in a sentence determines the meaning of the sentence. Let me explain each of the four sentences.

Sentence #1: Only I eat durians

  • It means no one else eats durians except me.

Sentence #2 and #3: I eat only durians / I eat durians only

  • It means the durian is my favourite fruit. I don’t eat other fruit at all.

Sentence #4: I only eat durians

  • It shows you eat the fruit but you don’t take it if it’s in liquid form.

Now, you try and see what the following sentences mean. Which do you think is more romantic? 😛

  1. Only I love you.
  2. I only love you.
  3. I love you only.