In the following sentence I have to write one word:

One annoying example of this is when you walk into a room, _____ to realise you have forgotten what your reason for going there was.

According to the key, it is only. But why doesn't just work? No dictionaries have evidence for this phrase. The only reliable source was ludwig.guru, which suggests both work. Would you accept my answer?

  • They both work for me, but "only" feels more natural/idiomatic. – user323578 Apr 18 at 19:04
  • You say, "No dictionaries have evidence for this phrase". Which phrase could you not find in dictionaries: "only ..." or "just ...".? I haven't come across your "reliable source" before: on what grounds do you consider it 'reliable'? Some of the highlighted sentences there sound 'odd' or 'strange' to me. – TrevorD Apr 18 at 19:05
  • To me "just" sounds odd. I agree with @JamesRandom that "only" feels more natural/idiomatic. – TrevorD Apr 18 at 19:06
  • Perhaps "just" sounds natural to me because I am not a native speaker and literally translated, both make perfect sense. I guess what I needed to here is that "just" is not idiomatic and sounds awkward. – george Apr 18 at 19:08

Consider these two sentences:

  1. I walked into the room only to see whether the window was open.

  2. I walked into the room only to realise I had forgotten my reason for going there.

In the first sentence 'only' has the sense of

Solely, merely, exclusively; with no one or nothing more besides; as a single or solitary thing or fact; no more than. Also, with a verb or verb phrase: no more than, simply, merely (OED).

In this context 'just' works as well as 'only'.

In the second sentence 'only' serves to

emphasize the contrary nature of a consequence (OED). For example

Should I stay..at home, I would only dissipate my little fortune. R. Burns (1787) Let. to J. Smith 11 June

or the OP example.

In this 2nd sentence 'just' is not an alternative because it does not have this meaning.

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