Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've got these sentences, which meanings are correct (my interpretations are in brackets):

Use of only:

(1) Only in 1996, Ford sold a rebadged Mazda 626 GV over here as its rebranded Japanese mid-size stationwagon. (1996 was the only year)

(2) In 1996, only Ford sold a rebadged Mazda 626 GV over here as its rebranded Japanese mid-size stationwagon. (Ford was the only manufacturer)

(3) In 1996, Ford sold only a rebadged Mazda 626 GV over here as its rebranded Japanese mid-size stationwagon (i.e. it was the only rebranded Japanese stationwagon from Ford)

(4) In 1996, Ford sold a rebadged Mazda 626 GV over here as its only rebranded Japanese mid-size stationwagon (there were no others, I assume?)

(5) In 1996, Ford sold a rebadged Mazda 626 GV over here as its rebranded Japanese mid-size stationwagon only (but not as a hatchback or saloon)

Use of just:

(1) Just 3 weeks ago, there was a sudden snowfall (3 weeks ago recently?)

(2) 3 weeks ago, there was just a sudden snowfall (no other natural disaster?)

(3) 3 weeks ago, just there was a sudden snowfall (no other location)

(4) 3 weeks ago, there was a just sudden snowfall (?)

Are these grammatically correct, and are the meanings correct for these words?

share|improve this question

1 Answer 1

Only in 1996, Ford sold a rebadged Mazda 626 GV over here as its rebranded Japanese mid-size stationwagon. (1996 was the only year)

Not exactly. More precise meaning would be Until 1996 Ford did not sell a...

In 1996, only Ford sold a rebadged Mazda 626 GV over here as its rebranded Japanese mid-size stationwagon. (Ford was the only manufacturer)

Correct.

In 1996, Ford sold only a rebadged Mazda 626 GV over here as its rebranded Japanese mid-size stationwagon (i.e. it was the only rebranded Japanese stationwagon from Ford)

No. The rebadged Mazda was all he ever sold that year (poor Mr.Ford...)

In 1996, Ford sold a rebadged Mazda 626 GV over here as its only rebranded Japanese mid-size stationwagon (there were no others, I assume?)

Here it's exactly what you said in your previous example. Mazda 626 GV was the only rebranded Japanese stationwagon from Ford

In 1996, Ford sold a rebadged Mazda 626 GV over here as its rebranded Japanese mid-size stationwagon only (but not as a hatchback or saloon)

Correct.

Just 3 weeks ago, there was a sudden snowfall (3 weeks ago recently?)

More or less.

3 weeks ago, there was just a sudden snowfall (no other natural disaster?)

Correct.

3 weeks ago, just there was a sudden snowfall (no other location)

Correct.

3 weeks ago, there was a just sudden snowfall (?)

The only meaning I can fathom for this usage is Suitable or proper in nature; fitting (and only after consulting the Free Dictionary, my first thought was just in the meaning of honorable/righteous).

Grammatically they all seem fine.

share|improve this answer
    
"Only in 1996, Ford sold a..." could just as easily mean "As recently as 1996,...". With the implication that they might have done this far more often in much earlier years, but the last occasion was surprisingly later than you might think. As in "Only in 1955, a woman was legally executed in Britain". Not surprising to Americans, maybe, but it is to many younger Brits today. –  FumbleFingers Aug 30 '11 at 15:50
    
@FumbleFingers: I think "only in 19XX" would be more likely to mean "as late as 19XX": "Only in 1932, as he prepared to run against Hindenburg for the presidency, did Hitler formally acquire German citizenship." –  phenry Aug 30 '11 at 15:59
    
@phenry: Maybe - but I think you're nit-picking over the fact that I happened to say "could just as easily". I'm not bothered about which is statistically more likely, simply pointing out that there are several different interpretations available, even without getting unduly contrived. And that's just on the first of OP's examples - I haven't even looked at the others. The whole question seems excessively broad to me. –  FumbleFingers Aug 30 '11 at 16:04
    
+1 for sheer effort! –  Daniel Aug 30 '11 at 17:55

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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