The entire class was talking. But the teacher started yelling at just one girl for talking during class. She seemed to yell at only her each day, as if she was holding some kind of grudge against her. So she just blew up at the teacher one day:

You only seem to notice me. It's as if I'm the only one talking here. You're always yelling at me, and only me. Well, news flash! I'm not the only one talking.

Does this sound fine? And this has actually happened. Can it be more natural? Does the bold phrase sound fine?

1 Answer 1


It's natural and it's understandable from the context. Only is a tricky modifier and its placement can cause ambiguity. Here are the possible meanings depending on where the word appears in the sentence:

Only you seem to notice me.
(Everybody else ignores me.)

You only seem to notice me.
(You're pretending to notice me.)

You seem only to notice me. You seem to only notice me.
(You don't pay any meaningful attention to me.)

You seem to notice only me. You seem to notice me only.
(No one else draws your attention.)

Again, that last is what was meant, particularly given the girl's likely tone and emphasis. Context is everything.

  • So does it sound wrong in the context of my post? Feb 13, 2020 at 11:10
  • What about: It's as if I'm the only one you seem to notice. Feb 13, 2020 at 11:11
  • In most cases, only modifies by proximity, so in your example just above,only modifies one, which is what the girl meant.
    – user105719
    Feb 13, 2020 at 11:41

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