only · adverb /ˈoʊn.li/Full view
only (NOT MORE)
A1 not more than a particular size or amount
Dictionary examples:

She's only 13.

These shoes only cost £20.

He passed only one of his exams.

It's only four o'clock and it's already getting dark.

Learner example:

This is only ten minutes by car. (Skills for Life (Entry 1); A1; Slovak)

only (NO ONE/NOTHING ELSE)
A2 not anyone or anything else
Dictionary examples:

Only Sue and Mark came to the meeting.

This club is for members only.

Only food bought here may be eaten here.

Learner example:

Only Marco, Anna, Sue and Nick came. (Key English Test; A2; Swiss German)

only (NOWHERE ELSE)
B1 not in any other place
Dictionary examples:

These televisions are only available in Japan.

These birds are only found in New Zealand.

Learner example:

I think animals, just as human beings, can only live in their natural habitat. (First Certificate in English; B2; Italian)

only (RECENTLY)
B1 used to mean that something happened very recently
Dictionary examples:

I only arrived half an hour ago.

They only put the roof on last week.

The movie had only just begun.

We'd only just started out when the car broke down.

Learner example:

I am really sorry I didn't write back earlier but I have only just got back from holiday. (Preliminary English Test; B1; French)

only (NOT IMPORTANT)
B1 used to say that something is not important, or that you did not mean to upset someone
Dictionary examples:

Don't worry - it's only a scratch.

I was only joking.

I was only trying to help.

Learner example:

It was only a dream! (Preliminary English Test; B1; Spanish)

if only
B1 used when you want to say how doing something simple would make it possible to avoid something unpleasant
Dictionary example:

If only they'd listen to him, I'm sure they could work it out.

Learner example:

If only I had been more careful. (Preliminary English Test; B1; Korean)

I only hope (that)/I only wish (that)
B2 used to emphasize what you are hoping or wishing for
Dictionary examples:

I only hope you know what you're doing.

I only wish that they would keep in touch more.

Learner example:

I only hope I can have the chance to see her too. (First Certificate in English; B2; Spanish)

not only
B2 used to say that more than one thing is true
Dictionary examples:

Not only did he turn up late, he also forgot his books.

If this project fails it will affect not only our department, but the whole organization.

Learner example:

Not only did she introduce me to her friends but she also introduced me to her brother. (First Certificate in English; B2; Catalan)

only so much/many
C2 used to say that there are limits to something
Dictionary example:

There's only so much help you can give someone.

Learner example:

The effects of a longer life span have many side ef[f]ects such as an increase in the world's population and, since there is only so much food, m[any] more people are st[ar]ving to death. (Certificate of Proficiency in English; C2; Spanish)

only · adjective always before noun /ˈoʊn.li/
only
A1 used to mean that there are not any others
Dictionary examples:

This is our only chance.

I was the only person on the train.

Is this really the only way to do it?

The only thing that matters is that the baby is healthy.

It was the only thing I could do under the circumstances.

Rita was the only person to complain.

Learner example:

I am the only French student in my class. (Skills for Life (Entry 1); A1; French)

be only human
C2 to not be perfect
Dictionary example:

Of course Tom makes mistakes - he's only human.

Learner example:

In theory, it is easy to say "We should learn from the mistakes of the past" but is it easy to do so in practice? Many people would say "No" to this question, as we are only human. (Certificate of Proficiency in English; C2; Turkish)

only · conjunction /ˈoʊn.li/
only
C2 used to introduce a statement which explains why something you have just said cannot happen or is not completely true
Dictionary examples:

This fabric is similar to wool, only cheaper.

I would have left earlier, only you didn’t want to.

Learner example:

He was always there for me when I needed him, only I needed him less and less. (Certificate of Proficiency in English; C2; Greek)

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