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What's the difference between the following sentences?

1 "All I want is peace and quiet"

2 "I only want peace and quiet"

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  • They are just different ways of expressing the same idea. Jan 12, 2021 at 16:57
  • The first sentence is usually said in exasperation, to quiet those around you. In would expect it mostly to be said emphatically, with an exclamation mark.The second sentence sounds a little needy or dictatorial, as though someone was sulking...
    – Msfolly
    Jan 12, 2021 at 18:21

3 Answers 3

1

All I want is peace and quiet.

The only thing you want is ... (used for emphasis)

I only want peace and quiet.

You're implying It's that all you're asking for is peace and quiet.

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The focus of the 1st sentence is on what fulfils your want. In this case peace and quiet would do the job. Anything extra would be redundant.

The focus of the 2nd sentence places a limit on what you want. In this case peace and quiet, and nothing else.

-2

1 means "Peace and quiet is all that you want" which means there is nothing that you want but you want only "peace and quiet".

2 means "You just want peace and quiet" which means there is nothing necessary at the moment if you can have "peace and quiet"

or

Only you want "peace and quiet" and you are not sure if there are other people that want "peace and quiet"

or

Only you want "peace and quiet" and there is nobody that wants "peace and quiet"

Grammar Solution

All I want is X.

All that I want is X. All is modified by a relative clause(that I want).

The final one that is emphasized is "All".

I only want X. (only modifies "want" or "I" and specifies who or what action is discussed here.)

"only" is an adverb and adverbs usually modify verbs and adjectives.

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