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How to use "only"



The word ‚Äúonly‚ÄĚ in the English language can be used as an adjective or as an adverb. As an adjective, it is used to say that there is just one or very few of something, or that there aren‚Äôt any others:

There was only her in the car park.
Staying alive is the only thing that matters now.

As an adverb, we use it to say that something is limited to someone, or something:

You can find these cards only in that store.
Only a couple of birds travel far south this time of the year.

When we use it as an adjective, we place it in front of a noun or the word ‚Äúone‚ÄĚ, or before another adjective or number:

That is the only one I have on that shelf.
It was the only big dress left in the store.

As an adverb, we can use ‚Äúonly‚ÄĚ in different positions, depending on the focus. We put ‚Äúonly‚ÄĚ in the front position when we want to focus on the subject:

Only a monster could have done this.
Only a small portion of viruses can be killed with this antibiotic.

The normal position for adverbs, between the subject and the main verb, or after the modal verb, or after be, is normally used when we focus on another part of the sentence:

Sara only practices piano at night when it is quiet.
People must only pay in cash, or they will regret it.
He is only a bit older than her.


Place the word ‚Äúonly‚ÄĚ in the correct position:

They ______ play ______ football ______ in ______ the ______ rain ______.
When they fight, he ______ talks ______ to ______ his ______ father ______.
That ______ is ______ the ______ thing ______ I ______ can ______ say ______.
She ______ eats ______ pizza ______ on ______ Sundays ______, because she is on a diet.
I entered the room, threw the bag on the floor, and ______ sat ______ on ______ the ______ chair ______.

Answer Key:

They only play football in the rain.
When they fight, he only talks to his father.
That is the only thing I can say.
She only eats pizza on Sundays, because she is on a diet.
I entered the room, threw the bag on the floor, and sat on the only chair.

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