Friday, March 16, 2012

Common Problems (Part 39 of 50)

When you use only, make sure it modifies the correct word/phrase.

* I only want to eat breakfast. (That person is easy to satisfy and has no other desires in life except breakfast.)

* He only wanted to see Mable. (The writer probably meant he wanted to see only Mable—and not all the others.)

* I only wanted to mail a letter. (I want to mail only a letter.)

Readers will understand what you mean, but why should they have to figure it out? If you want to write with excellence, you'll use only correctly.

Only is a restrictive word; 
Make sure you use it properly.


  1. Thank you!

    Wat is better:
    He only wanted to see Mabel
    He came especially for Mabel.

    I think ... I often avoid the word 'only'?

  2. Amen. I see this crop up all the time in stuff I edit.

    Adam Blumer
    Freelance Editor and Novelist


What are your thoughts?