'Only' in the end

Discussion in 'English Only' started by kritika, Dec 14, 2011.

  1. kritika Senior Member

    India - Hindi & English
    Hi,

    Is it okay to end a sentence with the word 'Only'? The other day I was talking to someone and I said 'It cannot be done for you ONLY'- I wanted to put emphasis on the word only to let the person know he wasn't special than anyone else. Later I thought if the sentence was grammatically correct or should I have said 'It cannot be done only for you'.

    What I feel is I would place the word 'only' at the end for negative sentence and not for positive sentneces. example: 'It cannot be done for you ONLY' but 'It cean only be done for you'

    Please let me know your thoughts on this. Thanks!
     
  2. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    'Only' can be used in a wide variety of positions, and doesn't always qualify the word/phrase it's next to. (See many previous threads on 'only', I'm sure, for more discussion about this.) In final position it can only refer to the phrase before it - which is an advantage, as it makes it clear. But it's unusual. In the sentence I just wrote, 'only' referred to 'the phrase before it', but I naturally wrote it as I did, not 'In final position it can refer to the phrase before it only'.

    Okay, the addition 'before it' confuses matters perhaps. Simplify it: In final position it can refer to the previous phrase only. Well, yes, this does have the intended meaning, but needs emphasis in speech. It's not a very natural unemphatic way of saying it.
     
  3. kritika Senior Member

    India - Hindi & English
    Thanks Entangledbank!
    Could you also tell me if both the phrases are gramatically correct?
    'It cannot be done for you ONLY' but 'It cannot only be done for you'
    Thanks
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2011
  4. msquared New Member

    english
    I get what you are trying to say, but I still believe 'only' needs to be closer to the phrase it is modifying than it is in your example. You are modifying "refer to" in your example, indicating that it cannot do anything else but refer to the phrase before it (Can it clarify the phrase before it? Not in your sentence. Can it modify the phrase before it? Not in your sentence.) The meaning is slightly unclear, when you consider that you are trying to say that it refers to 'only the phrase before it', not other phrases. Maybe I am wrong.
     

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