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What is the difference between following sentences ?

"All believers respect God" and "Only believers respect God"


(Ignore any grammatical mistake, if any)

I just want to know how "All " and "Only " affect the sentence ?

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  • The first allows that non-believers may respect God (or the idea of God). The seconds disallows that: i.e. only believers respect God (but not unbelievers). Also, it allows that some believers may not respect God.
    – Mick
    Dec 4, 2016 at 6:05

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'All believers respect God' means that if someone is a believer, then he respects God. Here, the word 'all' is used for emphasis, and the shorter 'Believers respect God' means essentially the same thing.

'Only believers respect God' means that if someone respects God, then he is a believer. In other words, non-believers do not respect God.

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  • Can I say this : B -> G for the 1st one and G -> B for the second one ?
    – Garrick
    Dec 4, 2016 at 12:58
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Interesting logical question. It is a problem in set theory. Let us start by considering a simpler parallel about a fictional material called drott.

All drott is green: drott is a set that lies completely in the green set. There may be other green things that are not drott.

Only drott is green: the green set is otherwise empty; there are no other green things. But there may be other drott that is not green.

If we equate drott to believers and green to respecters, we come up with Mike's answer, perfectly logical and entirely correct.

Your question is not quite so simple because in the case of drott/green we have no expectations about their mutual relationship, whereas in the case of believers/respecters we have unexpressed expectations that a believer will respect and respecters will believe. Mike's and my conclusion then seem odd, but only because of the hidden expectations of the reader.

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