Do you think the word "only" is often incorrectly placed in sentences?
Often I see sentences like "She only makes dinner for her family."for example, or "I'm only here for a few minutes.
I haven't noticed that to be the case. I tend to use the word 'only' quite frequently. Hopefully, I'm using it correctly. However, I am trying to wean myself from the words 'only' and 'simply' because I have noticed overusage of both of those words at times in my own writing.
Technically a modifier such as "only" or "just" should be placed immediately before the word or group of words that it modifies. So, it should be "I am here for only a few minutes."
In speech and informal writing, as you noted, "only" is often used as in your examples. To me, this is generally acceptable, as long as the placement doesn't generate confusion. Your first example does create confusion. As it is written, it would mean that making dinner for her family is the only thing she does, when what is probably meant is that she makes dinner ONLY for her family (and not others).
Also in some cases it just sounds better. Can you imagine the song "I only have eyes for you" as "I have eyes for only you"?
As with many grammar rules, I'd use the proper placement in formal writing and in all cases avoid placement which causes confusion.
Thanks for answering my question!
I agree with you about where the word "only"should be placed and that sometimes,it makes not a lot of difference as long as it's not too confusing.
It just annoys me when it is used too carelessly.Some would say I obviously do not have enough to think about.But it was just a thought.
Actually,I don't have a problem with "I have eyes for only you"LOL.
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