English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The list was mentioned only at the meeting.


The list was only mentioned at the meeting.

share|improve this question

closed as unclear what you're asking by MετάEd, Bradd Szonye, Kris, user49727, choster Oct 3 '13 at 17:28

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

The list was mentioned only at the meeting.The list was only mentioned at the meeting. Only the list was mentioned at the meeting. The only list was mentioned at the meeting. ... All are grammatical; all make sense. They do not mean the same and one is not preferable over the other. For more, please visit ELL.stackexchange.com – Kris Oct 3 '13 at 6:30
This question appears to be off-topic because it is better asked on ELL. – Kris Oct 3 '13 at 6:31
And still it gets two upvoted answers. Beats me. – SurvMach Oct 3 '13 at 12:46
possible duplicate of position of "only" – choster Oct 3 '13 at 17:28
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Both would be understood, but in terms of style that "the list was mentioned only at the meeting" is preferable, and arguably clearer about what the 'only' refers to.


The list was only mentioned (not sung, rapped, or chanted) at the meeting


The list was mentioned only at the meeting (but not in the corridor, the lift, or anywhere else).

share|improve this answer
cool. It could have been only mentioned at the meeting but discussed during lunch. kudos – SurvMach Oct 3 '13 at 3:10

When it comes to modifiers such as only, it's best to place them as close as possible to the word they are modifying to avoid confusion. Since you're stressing that there was solely one place/time in which the list was mentioned, it's modifying meeting. Therefore, it's better phrased as The list was mentioned only at the meeting.

With that said, both sentences are grammatically correct, and both would be accepted and understood. There's very little ambiguity in your examples.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.