Is there any difference between 'a minimum of only' and 'a minimum of'?

Here is an example:

'She did not tell him that it would give her a minimum of only three points'.

Is it enough for her or she'd prefer to get more than three points? Or she thinks she can get more than three points?


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    'Only' is used to draw attention to how small or little something is. She is saying that three is a small number of points for "it" to give her, either absolutely or comparison with some other number (for example she needs ten points). – Michael Harvey Apr 19 at 15:45
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    ...and a minimum is the smallest number of points that she could get - she might get more. – Kate Bunting Apr 19 at 16:08
  • Many thanks! But let's take two sentences: 'She did not tell him that it would give her a minimum of only three points' and She did not tell him that it would give her a minimum of three points'. Are they equivalent? – – Dmitry Acemonte Apr 19 at 16:25
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    It doesn't make sense to me to combine a minimum of with only. If she will get a minimum of three points, she will get at least three, perhaps more. Saying only three draws attention to the smallness of the number. Which you use depends on the idea you are trying to express. – Kate Bunting Apr 19 at 19:09
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    We would use "only" in combination with "maximun" not "minimum". For instance most traffic offences in the UK are penalised by a combination of fines and penalty points applied to the driving licence, these penalty points can accumulate and, if they reach a given threshold, the licence is withdrawn. A minor offence could have a penalty of "a maximum if only three points" but a more serious one would have "a minimum of three points" but might involve the offender reaching the threshold after one offence. – BoldBen Apr 20 at 3:03

This usage of "only" when applied to a number implies that the number is a low one.

She got three points

is a simple statement of fact. We know nothing about if three is low or high relative to any norms or expectations.

She got only three points.

means that three is a low number compared with something else, maybe an average, standard or expectation.

She was disappointed to get only three points, but her coach was happy with the result which was better than normal for her age.


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