In the following example:

Eri stared at date on the screen, but all she saw were white pixels. Only when she recovered from her shock that she became aware of its meaning.

Do it have to add "it was" before "...only when..."? Or it's not necessary? When to use only when and when to use it was only when?


You have to say either

It was only when she recovered from her shock that she became aware of its meaning.


Only when she recovered from her shock did she become aware of its meaning.

  • 1
    small typo: did she become . I can't edit because it's only one character =) – icy Aug 30 '13 at 18:36

You can use either "only when" and "It was only when", both are very similarly used.

However there is a subtle difference in the pace/style of the story-telling in both cases. In "Only When", there is a sense of urgency, a slightly more 'involved' writing.

"It was only when" is by comparision more 'relaxed' writing, more like someone is recounting something to someone.


As written, you have a sentence fragment. "Only when" introduces a prepositional phrase. "That" introduces a subordinate clause. You need to have a main clause, and there isn't one.

Adding "It was" makes it a sentence, so that's correct. A different way to do it would be to change "that" to "did" and "became" to "become".

protected by user140086 May 25 '16 at 6:59

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