on|ly [ `ounli ] function word ***
Only can be used in the following ways:
as an adverb:
It's only an idea, but I thought we could try it out.
She was only 18 when she had her first child.
I only hope we can finish this in time.
as an adjective (always before a noun):
I was an only child.
You're the only person who can help me.
as a conjunction:
You can come, only make sure you're on time.
1. ) used for showing that an amount is small used for emphasizing that an amount, number, size, age, percentage, etc. is small or smaller than expected:
The police station was only 150 yards away.
The company was established in San Jose only eight months ago.
She was only 18, but she was as smart as someone twice her age.
The two men spoke with each other only briefly.
The cell-phone market makes up only a small part of the company's business.
2. ) nothing, no one, nowhere, etc. except used for showing that a statement does not apply to anything or anyone else except the person, thing, action, place, etc. that you are mentioning:
Everyone promised they would come, but in the end only Ted and Jack showed up.
The flowers grow wild only on the island of Maui.
She wouldn't say where she was going she only said she'd be back as soon as she could.
I only design the dresses, I don't actually make them.
Only in this house do I feel safe and secure.
Nowadays she performs only on very special occasions.
They were being nice to Charlie only because they didn't want to hurt his feelings.
3. ) when there are no others used for showing that there are no other things or people of the same kind as the one or ones that you are mentioning:
the/someone's only: David's the only one of us who has a computer.
This is the only letter my father ever wrote to me.
My only reason for coming here was to see you.
Johnson was born in 1942, the only son in a family of six children.
The only people who understand the problem are the scientists.
The only thing we can do is wait and see.
4. ) but used for adding a comment to something that you have just said which makes it less true or correct:
Fiction is like real life, only better.
Her car is like mine, only it has four doors.
a ) SPOKEN used when you are going to mention a problem or a reason why something is not possible:
I would offer to baby-sit, only I'm going out myself.
the only thing is...: I'd really like to come to the party. The only thing is, my sister is coming to town that day.
5. ) not better, worse, etc. than something used for saying that something is not better, worse, more important, more difficult, etc. than you are stating:
Don't get upset I was only joking.
We are only trying to help.
What was that noise? Don't worry it's only the wind.
6. ) no earlier than no earlier than a particular time, day, week, etc.:
I met him for the first time only last week.
only now/then: It is only now that the technology exists to transmit high quality images.
I picked some roses and only then did I notice that my mother's favorite vase was missing.
only when: Only when the government stops interfering will we see any improvement in our schools.
7. ) used for emphasizing what is necessary used for emphasizing that something must happen before something else can happen:
You pay the agent only if you sell the house.
A further statement will be issued only when the investigation has been concluded.
8. ) used for talking about a bad result used for saying that the result or effect of something is bad or not wanted and has no positive qualities:
His failure to respond to the criticism only made matters worse.
I never complain it only causes more trouble.
9. ) the best used for showing that something or someone is the best:
You should get a motorcycle. Believe me, it's the only way to travel.
In my opinion, Bond is the only man for the job.
someone can only do something
1. ) used for showing that only one action is possible in a particular situation, even if it is really not the best or most suitable one:
I can only express absolute disgust that any public official would act in such a dishonest way.
As a waiter earning $180 a week, he can only dream about buying a home of his own.
2. ) used for saying that you can only think of one explanation for something:
We can only suppose that there has been political pressure on him to make this decision.
I can only assume that an error was made when the report was being typed.
1. ) a very short time ago:
The movie's only just started, so you haven't missed much.
2. ) by a small degree or a small amount:
At present we are only just managing to satisfy the demands of our customers.
...only to do something
used for saying that what happens next is disappointing or unpleasant:
I tore open the box, only to discover that some of the parts were missing.
only too
1. ) used for meaning very when you wish that the situation was different:
The company is only too aware of the risks involved.
They discovered that, unfortunately, the rumor was only too true.
2. ) used for saying that you are very willing to do something:
only too happy/glad/willing, etc. to do something: I'd be only too happy to show you around the office.
only wish/hope (that)
to wish/hope something strongly:
I only hope others will learn from what has happened to me.
you (only) have to do something or you have (only) to do something
used for saying that a fact becomes obvious as soon as you do something:
You only have to look at all the people living on the streets to know that something has to change.

Usage of the words and phrases in modern English. 2013.

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