Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. My name is Alisha. Today, I'm going to talk about the correct use of the word "only." Let's take a look at a few examples and see how moving the word "only" around in a sentence can change the meaning of the sentence. Let's begin.
First, I want to define the word "only" and how I'm going to use it for this lesson. The word "only" for this lesson we're going to look at it as an adverb. An adverb, which means a single case or a single instance of something. There's nothing different, nothing more, nothing less. There's just this one thing, this one case of something. But I want to focus for this lesson on the importance of the position of "only" in a sentence. One key to keep in mind when you use the word "only," and this is a point for native speakers and for non-native speakers, we need to place the word "only" as close as possible to the word or to the phrase that it modifies. By modifies I mean "only" is connected to that phrase, "only" is changing that phrase in some way. When I say place it as close as possible to that word, I mean before that word. It needs to come before the word it's changing, before the word it's modifying.
I want to show a few examples of how to do this, but I'm going to move the word "only" around in the same sentence. Let's take a look. I'll show you what I mean. Let's take a look at this sentence. The base sentence here is "Sara saw Michael at the park," a simple sentence. There are two people involved, one action, in this case the past tense "saw," and then a location, "at the park." I'm going to use the word "only" here in a few different positions to show how much it can change the meaning of the sentence, depending on where we place it. The first example here I have is "Only Sara saw Michael at the park." Here, the word "only" comes before "Sara." That means that these two words are connected. "Only" is modifying "Sara" in this case. This sentence, therefore, means that Sara, perhaps, in a group of people or with somebody else, Sara w/s the only person, the single person who saw Michael at the park. Maybe, there were other people in the group she was with, but she was the single person, the only person who saw Michael. Only Sara saw Michael at the park. That's the meaning with the placement of "only" before "Sara" here.
Let's look at the next sentence. "Sara only saw Michael at the park." Here, "only" is coming before the word "saw." In this case, it's modifying this verb, "saw." This sentence, therefore, means that Sara, the only thing Sara did, her only action, was to see. She only saw Michael at the park, meaning no other actions happened. Sara did not wave to Michael. Sara did not greet Michael. Sara did not throw something at Michael. Whatever. There was no other action. The only action, the single action, the sole action, was that she saw Michael. Sara only saw Michael at the part. The placement before the verb gives us this meaning.
Let's look at one more example. "Sara saw only Michael at the park." Here, "only" comes before Michael in this case. The connection, the modification, is happening here. "Sara saw only Michael at the park" means she did not see any other people at the park. This could mean that there were no other people at the park, or that maybe she just didn't see anybody at the park. This sentence is a little bit tricky. It's a little hard to understand exactly what the writer wants to say, but it could mean that there were, perhaps, no people at the park, no other people at the park that Sara saw. She went to the park, she saw only Michael. There was only one person, a single person, it was Michael that Sara saw. So, placing "only" before, in this case, "Michael" gives us this meaning.
One more sentence. "Sara saw Michael only at the park." Here, the word "only" is coming before this phrase, "at the park," this location in this case, meaning that there was a single place where Sara saw Michael. Sara did not see Michael at the supermarket. She did not see him at the store. She did not see him at school. She saw him only at the park. There's a single location where she saw Michael.
These four sentences show us how much the meaning of a sentence can change depending on our placement of the word "only." It's important to keep in mind. Another thing that I've done throughout this lesson a little bit is I've emphasized with my voice the word that "only" is modifying, but I want to make one more point here. In speech, when actually speaking, we can stress words for emphasis and for clarity to make it very clear which word in the sentence we want to emphasize, which word we want "only" to modify. For example, I can say "Only Sara saw Michael at the park," or "Sara only saw Michael at the park." With your voice, you have the ability to emphasize certain words and certain phrases in the sentences. However, in writing it's not possible to do this. So, correct placement of the word "only" is quite important. I wanted to give you a few examples, and it's just something to think about the next time you use the word "only." Make sure that you're placing the word "only" as close as possible to the word that it modifies. Just something to keep in mind.
That's it for this lesson. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to let us know in the comment section below this video. Thanks very much for watching this lesson. I'll see you again soon. Bye!

5 Comments

Hide
Please to leave a comment.
๐Ÿ˜„ ๐Ÿ˜ž ๐Ÿ˜ณ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜’ ๐Ÿ˜Ž ๐Ÿ˜  ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜… ๐Ÿ˜œ ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜ญ ๐Ÿ˜‡ ๐Ÿ˜ด ๐Ÿ˜ฎ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ โค๏ธ๏ธ ๐Ÿ‘

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
Pinned Comment
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

EnglishClass101.com
Thursday at 06:18 PM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hi Lisa,


Thank you for posting!


Please let us know if you have any questions.


Sincerely,

Cristiane

Team EnglishClass101.com

EnglishClass101.com
Wednesday at 08:14 PM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hi Chuan,


Thank you for your positive feedback!๐Ÿ‘


Let us know if you have any questions.


Sincerely,

Cristiane

Team EnglishClass101.com

Chuan
Wednesday at 09:51 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Her voice of speaking english is so nice and wonderful.

Lisa
Wednesday at 06:36 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Thank you for the (?) great lesson!