The king and queen rushed the girls to the trolls, mysterious healers who knew about magic. A wise troll named Grand Pabbie saved Anna by removing her memories of Elsa's magic. He explained that she was lucky to have been hit in the head, not in the heart.

The troll told the king and queen that Elsa's powers would only grow stronger. "Fear will be her enemy," he warned.

The King and queen knew they had to protect their daughter. ....

FROZEN Storybook Collection

This is from the Children's book FROZEN. I'm not sure what "Elsa's powers would only grow stronger" is trying to convey in this context. Also, in "Fear will be her enemy,", is 'her' referring to Anna or Elsa?

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    Only X means nothing except X. So Elsa's powers would only grow stronger is saying her powers won't do anything else except grow stronger - in context, this specifically implies they won't just stay the same, or weaken over time. Feb 22 '19 at 13:41

Only, in this context, is a way of emphasising that they will definitely grow stronger. It would typically be used when you know, or expect, that the people reading or hearing would hope that the opposite will happen.

Your daughter is very ill, I'm afraid, and it's only going to get worse.

The parents would obviously hope their daughter will get better, but a doctor is breaking the news that she won't.

As to the side question about the antecedent of her, you can usually expect the antecedent to be the most recent person mentioned for whom it would make sense. The troll has just said Elsa's powers will grow stronger (in reported speech); then, in direct speech, says "fear will be her enemy". He just spoke about Elsa, so the antecedent of the pronoun is Elsa.


The troll told the king and queen that Elsa's powers would only grow stronger. "Fear will be her enemy," he warned.

The adverb "only" is called a restrictive focusing modifier. It's used here to convey the Troll's conviction that Elsa’s powers would get stronger, not remain constant, get worse, or anything else.

Generally, pro-forms like "her" refer to the nearest preceding noun, which in this case is "Elsa". This is reinforced here by the fact that the troll is talking about Elsa, so we understand that he told the king and queen that fear will be her (Elsa's) enemy.

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