From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishonlyon‧ly1 /ˈəʊnli $ ˈoʊn-/ ●●●S1W1 adverb 🔊 🔊 1ONLYnot more than a particular number, age etc 🔊 Naomi was only 17 when she got married. 🔊 There are only a few cars on the island. 🔊 It’s only eight o'clock.2ONLYused to say that something or someone is not very important, serious etc 🔊 It was only a joke. 🔊 It’s an interesting job, but it’s only temporary. 🔊 They’re only small cuts, nothing life-threatening.3ONLYnothing or no one except a particular person or thing 🔊 Only the president can authorize a nuclear attack. 🔊 We use only the best ingredients.women/men/residents etc only 🔊 The car park is for staff only.4ONLYused to say that something happens or is possible in one particular situation or place and no others, or for one particular reason 🔊 I’ll tell you, but only if you don’t tell anyone else. 🔊 I ate the food, but only because I was starving. 🔊 The transfer takes place only when the data is complete.GRAMMAR: Word order• Only usually comes between the subject and the main verb: I only saw two people.• Only usually comes between an auxiliary verb and a main verb: I can only see two people.• When you want to emphasize what you are saying, you sometimes use only at the beginning of a sentence, and put the auxiliary verb before the subject: Only later did I understand what she meant.Only by improving social and economic conditions can good health be achieved.5TIME/AT A PARTICULAR TIMEno earlier than a particular timeonly yesterday/last week/recently 🔊 ‘When did you email her?’ ‘Only yesterday.’only then did/would/could etc somebody do something (=at that moment and not before) 🔊 Only then did she tell him about the attack.6 →only just7 →can only hope/wait etc8 →I can only think/suppose/assume (that)9 →I only wish/hope10 →if only11 →you’ll only12 →you only have to read/look at/listen to etc something13 →only to14 →only too → not only ... but (also)at not(4), → only have eyes for somebodyat eye1(32), → for somebody’s eyes onlyat eye1(25)
only• Clonedmutatedgenes were fully sequenced to ensure that the only changes were those required.• The onlyclue had come in the late morning.• But it was not the only one.• Even so, my right hand is clenched into a fist, the onlyoutward sign that I am afraid.• The only surprise was that the game finished with all 22 participants present.the only one• In the supermarket and the local shop they are, at present, the only one.• But prosecutors say Gomez is the only one charged with actually shooting into the vehicle.• He was the only one from the island out.• But that will, of course, is the only one that's valid.• The attache was the only one that was locked, and the only one that seemed to contain anything.• He was the only one to keep moving at the same speed.• Dana had to be shielded from Roman's anger, and she was the only one who could do that.• I think I am the only one who hasn't had to pay any fines for not missing a tournament.onlyonly3 ●○○ conjunction spoken 🔊 🔊 BUTused like ‘but’ to give the reason why something is not possible syn except (that) 🔊 I’d offer to help, only I’m really busy just now.
Examples from the Corpus
only• I'd offer to help, only I'm kind of busy right now.