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I'm writing an automobile website and some of my paragraphs contain the word "only".

I understand the following. As far as I'm aware, this is right:

Only the Volkswagen Polo, Golf, Passat, Passat CC and Sharan are available in this country. 

This, as far as I am aware means that those Volkswagen vehicles are available, and no other.

This is where I'm having my problem, in the following articles:

The Subaru Legacy was launched recently here. Sold as a sedan or wagon, it is only available with 2.0-litre/148bhp and 2.5-litre/165bhp 4-cylinder petrol engines, for now. The 3.6-litre/256bhp petrol and 2.0-litre/148bhp turbodiesel may arrive in mid-2011.

However, if I rearrange it as such:

The Subaru Legacy was launched recently here. Sold as a sedan or wagon, it is available only with 2.0-litre/148bhp and 2.5-litre/165bhp 4-cylinder petrol engines, for now. The 3.6-litre/256bhp petrol and 2.0-litre/148bhp turbodiesel may arrive in mid-2011.

or as:

The Subaru Legacy was launched recently here. Sold as a sedan or wagon, it is available with 2.0-litre/148bhp and 2.5-litre/165bhp 4-cylinder petrol engines only, for now. The 3.6-litre/256bhp petrol and 2.0-litre/148bhp turbodiesel may arrive in mid-2011.

Here's another similar article from my website I'm developing:

Toyota have facelifted the Corolla recently here. It is available in three body styles, a five-door hatchback, a four-door sedan and a station wagon. There are two engines available: a 1.3-litre/85bhp and a 1.6-litre/109bhp 4-cylinder petrol.
The hatchback model comes in four versions - GL, GLi, GLX and Executive.
The sedan variant can be specified in GLi and GLX. Only the sedan version gets the 1.6-litre/124bhp and 1.8-litre/132bhp engines.
The Station wagon model line-up mirrors that of the hatchback, except the Executive version is unavailable.

As I understand it, that means one version, no others.

But if I changed it to these, what would it mean:

Toyota have facelifted the Corolla recently here. It is available in three body styles, a five-door hatchback, a four-door sedan and a station wagon. There are two engines available: a 1.3-litre/85bhp and a 1.6-litre/109bhp 4-cylinder petrol.
The hatchback model comes in four versions - GL, GLi, GLX and Executive.
The sedan variant can be specified in GLi and GLX. The sedan version gets the 1.6-litre/124bhp and 1.8-litre/132bhp engines only.
The Station wagon model line-up mirrors that of the hatchback, except the Executive version is unavailable.

If I understand it correctly, only at the end of a sentence should be used carefully.

Also, the following:

Toyota have facelifted the Corolla recently here. It is available in three body styles, a five-door hatchback, a four-door sedan and a station wagon. There are two engines available: a 1.3-litre/85bhp and a 1.6-litre/109bhp 4-cylinder petrol.
The hatchback model comes in four versions - GL, GLi, GLX and Executive.
The sedan variant can be specified in GLi and GLX. The sedan version only gets the 1.6-litre/124bhp and 1.8-litre/132bhp engines.
The Station wagon model line-up mirrors that of the hatchback, except the Executive version is unavailable.

Apologies if this is very wordy, I'm trying to ensure factual accuracy with my grammar! The use of the word "only" and word-order sometimes proves problematic for me.

share|improve this question
1  
Related: Correct position of only. –  kiamlaluno Jan 27 '11 at 15:42

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Only the Volkswagen Polo, Golf, Passat, Passat CC and Sharan are available in this country.

This could be clearer. Although common sense says otherwise, this sounds like these are the only cars available in this country. You might instead use

The only Volkswagens available in this country are the Polo, Golf…

If the article is clearly just about VWs, though, you could probably omit Volkswagen from the first version and be just fine.


For the Subaru Legacy, all three options convey the same meaning.


Only the sedan version gets the 1.6-litre/124bhp and 1.8-litre/132bhp engines.

This means that the these engines come in the sedan version and are not available in the wagon, which may not be what you want.

The sedan version gets the 1.6-litre/124bhp and 1.8-litre/132bhp engines only.

This means that these are the only engines available in the sedan (presumably others and perhaps these are also available in the wagon).

The sedan version only gets the 1.6-litre/124bhp and 1.8-litre/132bhp engines.

This means something slightly different. Here only suggests that something is disappontingly lacking, like we might hope for better options, but these two engines is all we get. This use of only is similar to this

I wanted the 2010 Audi R8, but I could only afford the 1988 VW Rabbit.

share|improve this answer
    
I almost get it. So if the word only is placed in front, like this, it suggests disappointment: > We only get the 2.4-litre 4-cylinder here; no diesel engines are on offer. –  whitstone86 Jan 27 '11 at 17:17
    
@witstone86 Maybe it isn't disappointment, so I take that back. For example, if you say "Car X only comes with a 600 HP supercharged hybrid engine than runs on salt water," you wouldn't be disappointed. I think it is the use of "only gets" that makes it seem like it could have gotten much more, whereas saying "The sedan version is only available with the…" would be a more objective-sounding statement of fact. –  Jay Jan 27 '11 at 17:28
    
I see. Only available with the... is probably the way to go. –  whitstone86 Jan 27 '11 at 18:18

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