The word only

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The word only

Post by ebyss on Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:11 pm

Where do you place the word only. As an example, please use the following sentence-

A specific dream, which only can become reality at this time.

OR

A specific dream, which can only become reality at this time.

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Re: The word only

Post by Guest on Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:56 pm

The depends on which of the two words (can & only) is the word directing the meaning of the sentence.

In the first example:

A specific dream, which only can become reality at this time.

In this sentence, the word can is directing, meaning that can become is allowed as a logical outcome, and that cannot become is not an option.

In the second example:

A specific dream, which can only become reality at this time.

In this sentence, the meaning is that either reality is the only thing which the dream can become, or that this time is the only moment that change is possible.

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Re: The word only

Post by NaClmine on Sun Mar 15, 2009 9:09 pm

The first verb "can" is an auxiliary verb, while the action in the sentence is provided by the intransitive verb, "become". There are many such combinations; "can walk", "can sing", "can write", "can fight" . . . in all these cases, the action verb is the target of any adverb and "can" is only the helping verb. Since an adverb is modifying the action verb, a sentence reads correctly when the adverb is placed immediately before or after the action. For example, "reads correctly" in the prior sentence shows this close verb-adverb relationship.

Back to your question: since the adverb "only" is modifying "become", it should be placed before the main verb . . . "can only become".

-- disclaimer -- dialog is different. People commonly abuse verb-adverb placement "rules" in everyday speech. It is entirely okay to attribute such grammar to characters, especially when their language adds to a character's personality.
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Re: The word only

Post by ebyss on Mon Mar 16, 2009 8:17 am

Thank you for the help. It is a little more clear now.
Laughing

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Re: The word only

Post by Jack on Mon Mar 16, 2009 8:58 am

I've been repeating those two sentences over and over again... and I must say that the second sentence:

A specific dream, which can only become reality at this time.

Sounds better. I also agree with NaCl and Wrey.
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