Are you hungry? Only I know a great pizzeria.

Or should I make it one complete sentence and use only as a (coordinating conjunction?)?

Are you hungry, only I know a great pizzeria?

Only can be used for a concession or contradiction.

I would have gone to the party, only I didn't know where it was.

But in the pizza sentence, only makes an offer, so I'm unsure whether it is deemed correct, and what part of speech it is.

  • "Only" is not a good fit in the first sentence. Works fine in the second.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 16, 2015 at 11:48

1 Answer 1


Here, it's a pragmatic marker showing deference (a hedge). Conversational oil, meant to tone down any suggestion of pushiness. It can be considered as roughly equivalent to 'It's just that ...' or 'I'm only asking because ...', but these latter are heading more in the direction of subservience.

I'd not try to label it as 'coordinating conjunction' or 'adverb class 847', but it does stand apart from the matrix clause/s.

I'd love to use a dash here, but the question mark needs to go after the question (and ? – might be considered ugly by some; they'd probably pontificate that it was unacceptable), so I'd use your two-sentence version.

There could well be situations where confusion with the 'just' [focus particle] sense of 'only' would be more likely.

  • I would have given you a tick up for this answer, but it seems that I've lost my reputation over time.
    – RoDaSm
    Mar 16, 2015 at 11:20

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