In my country, although English is not our native language, it is spoken quite a lot. I've heard many a time only being used for emphasis,but I don't think I've ever seen a native using it. Here is an example

You are going there only.

I heard someone using this sentence when they wanted to get something and asked someone to bring it. When that someone refused, they said "You are going there only, what's the problem in bringing it?"

Is this kind of usage acceptable?

  • 1
    Are you sure you're not mishearing You're going there anyway, so why can't you [collect something for me]? Or if it's not you mishearing, perhaps you're listening to other people who made that mistake and are unknowingly repeating it. OR perhaps in your native language (which it might be useful for us to know), the corresponding words for only and anyway have overlapping meanings and/or usages, leading to this error being "favoured". May 20, 2021 at 13:26
  • My native language is Hindi. In my language, word for anyway and only don't exactly overlap, but in this particular sentence corresponding words of both only and anyway do work.
    – Amogh
    May 20, 2021 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


The question is, "acceptable" to whom? There is no "Academy of the English Language", like there is with French, that makes the rules of what is proper English and what is not. If that is how only is used in the dialect of English that people speak in your country, then that is how that dialect is.

That said, only is not used exactly that way in American English (or, I think, in most other dialects), and using only that way is a very strong indicator of speaking Indian English. In American English, we do use only for a kind of emphasis, like

The Disney organization defines a ticket as admission for one day only

but there is still the sense of exclusion, like "one day, but not more than one day."

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    Yes, it sounds as if that's become an established idiom in Amogh's country, even if not elsewhere! I wonder where that came from! (I can confirm that "only" is not used that way in Britain either.)
    – A. B.
    May 20, 2021 at 11:48
  • To most English speakers "You are going there only" would mean that 'there' was the only place you were going to (except that we would normally say "You are only going there"). May 20, 2021 at 12:07

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