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What are the differences in the following sentences:

(1)I eat burger and pizza only.(My understanding is he doesn't eat anything > except burger and pizza)

(2)I eat only burger and pizza.(My understanding is it relates to same concept as no.1)

(3)I only eat burger and pizza.(My understanding is that he only eats burger and pizza ,and do nothing,i.e he doesn't talk,read,walk etc.)

(4)Only I eat burger and pizza.(My understanding is that he has the copyright to eat burger and pizza)

Are my understandings correct?

Many people use only in a wrong way,as there are basic differences.

Please focus on this topic.

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  • 1
    You might be expected to show your level of comprehension for each statement in order to receive a good answer.
    – Em.
    Jun 8, 2016 at 6:38
  • 2
    The first three mean the same thing, describing what I eat without reference to what other people eat. The fourth means that I am the only person who eats burger and pizza. If you mean sometimes you have a burger and sometimes you have pizza then you should say "burgers and pizza"; without the "s" in "burgers" it implies you eat the two things together, like saying "burger and fries".
    – nnnnnn
    Jun 8, 2016 at 6:42
  • I thing third means some thing different
    – Hailey
    Jun 8, 2016 at 6:44
  • I see what you mean about number 3, but it doesn't mean that. To get that meaning you could say "all I do is eat burger and pizza" or "The only thing I do is eat..."
    – nnnnnn
    Jun 8, 2016 at 6:48
  • Doesn't third one mean that?
    – Hailey
    Jun 8, 2016 at 6:49

1 Answer 1

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(1) I eat burger and pizza only.

The only things I eat are burger and pizza. I don't eat vegetables, I don't eat fruit. I have high cholesterol.

(2) I eat only burger and pizza.

Means the same as above.

(3) I only eat burger and pizza.

Technically speaking, this could mean a couple of things: A) I only eat burger and pizza. I don't do anything else in life. I only eat, and I only eat those two things. B) I only eat those two things when I do eat. But I still do other things. I take showers, and I brush my teeth, and I go to work, and I have a family. But I weigh 300 pounds.

Since (A) is impossible to do, most people would assume it means (B). In fact, (3) is often construed the same as (1) or (2). Most people don't distinguish any difference, at least in spoken English.

(4) Only I eat burger and pizza.

I am the only person who eats burger and pizza. This can mean that I'm the only one in my health-conscious family who eats burger and pizza, so it's useful sometimes.

There might be situations where (3) can take on different meanings. For example, consider the following:

I only love you.

This could mean a few different things: A) I love you and no one else but you. You're the only person I love. This would be the most common usage. B) I can only love you. I don't do anything else besides love you. I don't breathe, I don't sleep, I don't do my homework -- I just love you. C) The only thing I've ever felt toward you is love. I don't hate you or dislike you, I only feel this one emotion toward you.

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