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I wrote an essay and in one sentence:

"She died [only] at [only] age [only] 21"

I don't know where the adverb "only" should be. Can someone help me?

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    "She died at the age of only 21" Putting only directly before the number emphasises that it was a tragically early age. Dec 27, 2022 at 10:27
  • And on the other hand, "She died only at age 21" would imply that it was a tragically, or at least surprisingly, late age - cf. "He understood it only when I explained it for the third time". Isn't English fun? Dec 27, 2022 at 11:09
  • @Kate Bunting: Thank you Kate : )
    – Dada
    Dec 27, 2022 at 13:40
  • @Maciej Stachowski: it is haha. Thanks a lot Maciej: ))
    – Dada
    Dec 27, 2022 at 13:41

1 Answer 1

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Grammatically, "only" can go anywhere.

It really depends on what one is trying to say. A general rule of thumb is that if you say the sentence without the "only", but in a surprised way (She died at age 21!!) the word you naturally stress is the one that "only" should go in front of.

Dying is something one does only once, so a better example would be visiting Paris.

Sentence Possible Meaning
Only she visited Paris at age 21. Her friends waited until about 25.
She only visited Paris at age 21. She later moved there at 25.
She visited only Paris at age 21. She didn't visit anywhere else that year.
She visited Paris only at age 21. She never visited Paris at any other age.
She visited Paris at only age 21. She visited Paris much younger than her friends.
She visited Paris at age only 21. She visited Paris at a relatively young age.

Some of these are very similar in meaning, but with different verbs the minor differences could become more significant.

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  • Thank you for explaining the rule clearly and providing the useful examples to help me understand. I appreciate your help!!
    – Dada
    Dec 30, 2022 at 14:47

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