What's the more correct/idiomatic version? And why?

Example sentence:

In him, I found not only/had not only found a drinking parter, but also someone with whom I could talk about anything.


1 Answer 1


A David Foster Wallace riff on the proper location of "only", from http://htmlgiant.com/craft-notes/grammar-challenge-answers-and-explanations/ By Amy McDaniel

  1. I *only spent only six weeks in Napa.

The adverb only modifies six, not spent. If it modified spent, the sentence would be implying that the subject didn’t, say, work or weep or dance six weeks in Napa–merely spent six weeks there. Clearly, not the author’s intention. Wallace had a funny way of teaching this:

You have been entrusted to feed for your neighbor’s dog for a week while he (the neighbor) is out of town. The neighbor returns home; something has gone awry; you are questioned.

“I fed the dog.”

“Did you feed the parakeet?”

“I fed only the dog.”

“Did anyone else feed the dog?”

“Only I fed the dog.”

“Did you fondle/molest the dog?”

“I only fed the dog!” [Here Wallace’s voice cracked funnily.]

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