-1

"He stayed here only for two days." or "He stayed here for only two days."? To me, both questions make sense. I would like to know whether both of them are grammatically correct and carry the same meaning?

  • 1
    "Only two", because "only" modifies the number of days. – 17slim Aug 31 '17 at 18:28
  • Which one do you think is more correct and why? Why do you ask this question? @17slim Why do you think "only" can modify the number of days? – user253042 Aug 31 '17 at 18:52
  • 3
    Only he stayed here for two days. He only stayed here for two days. He stayed only here for two days. He stayed here only for two days. He stayed here for only two days. He stayed here for two days only - all grammatical. The only permutation that isn’t is He stayed here for two only days. They mean different things or emphasize different aspects of the 2-day stay. What are you trying to convey? And in what context? – Jim Aug 31 '17 at 19:17
  • 1
    "Modifies" as in "is attached to". "Only two" implies that he could have stayed there for more than two, but stayed for "only two" instead. If he meant "This was the only place he stayed for two days", then "He stayed here only for two days" would be alright, but "He stayed only here for two days" would be better. Given this, the second option is better if the number of days is what "only" refers to. – 17slim Aug 31 '17 at 19:40
  • 1
    One may compare all of these: "Only he stayed here for two days." ... "He only stayed here for two days." ... "He stayed only here for two days."... "He stayed here only for two days." ..."He stayed here for only two days." ... "He stayed here for two days only." – GEdgar Dec 23 '17 at 15:45
1

According to this website if you are trying to modify the phrase "two days" then it should be placed next to it, as in:

"He stayed here for only two days."

However, in conversational American english they both make sense, but I would prefer modifying "stayed here for two days":

"He only stayed here for two days."

My guess is that the main point of the sentence is to emphasize the limited time that "he" stayed, so I would move it to the front of the sentence instead of burying in the middle or end. But I ain't no English teacher. ;)

  • Only the author knows what needs to be emphasized. "He only stayed here for two days. The rest of the days he just came by at meal times." "He stayed here for only two days. It just felt like an eternity." – Val Aug 31 '17 at 19:49
  • @Val good point! I think it can be used to modify the phrases "stayed here for only two days"; "for two days"; or "two days", without changing the meaning much. If he puts it in front of "He" or "here" then it means something completely different. – Devil07 Aug 31 '17 at 19:54
  • Can't take credit. June Casagrande's book, "Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meannies" has a chapter on this that is hysterical. – Val Aug 31 '17 at 19:55
  • I'm going to check that book out, I wan't to learn to be a grammer snob :) – Devil07 Aug 31 '17 at 20:01

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