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1- The squad is only on night shift because they disobeyed a direct order to save me.

I saw this sentence above but it seems kind of unusual to me. I would say it this way:

2- The squad is on night shift only because they disobeyed a direct order to save me.

Do they mean the same thing? Is there a difference between them? Using "only" in that position can imply different things I think. (I am talking about the position of "only" in sentence 1)

  • More of a problem than the position of "only", is the unclear wording of "disobeyed a direct order to save me". Pretty sure they disobeyed some order so that they could successfully save him (instead), not that they were ordered to save him and disobeyed (e.g., let him drown). – Lorel C. Jul 13 at 0:03
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Yes your sentences 1 and 2 have identical meanings.

In general "X is only A because Z" and "X is A only because Z" will have identical meanings. The exception will be when "only A" forms a distinct term, usually when A is some sort of level in a ranking system. For example:

  • This group are only novices because they have not learned how to perform squeezes. (The lack of the ability to perform squeezes shows that they are still novices.)
  • This group are novices only because they have not learned how to perform squeezes. (The ability to perform squeezes is the only thing the group lacks. once they master that, they will no longer be novices.)

Evene here the difference is subtle.

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