I'm writing an individual report in school and wrote: "I was part of the development team and worked solely with front end development"

Is this a correct way to use the word "solely"? Does it create ambiguity? I mean to say that I only worked with front end development, not that I was the only one working.

EDIT: Some research. Merriam-Webster defines "solely" as: 1) "to the exclusion of all else" 2) "without another : SINGLY"

Oxford Dictionary defines it as: "not involving anyone or anything else; only."

Comment suggested that I use the word in the sense that is mentioned first when defined but this varies between sources. I've decided to not use the word to avoid ambiguity.

  • Hello, Yii. You've not included any research, and here, the research is easily available (though it perhaps needs some interpretation: Look at the definitions given in M-W, say. Which sense is mentioned first? Most dictionaries give the most common usage first, and this is certainly the case here. No one would even suspect the 'without co-workers' sense.) – Edwin Ashworth Jun 4 '19 at 11:15
  • Hello. I did some research but didn't know I was supposed to put that in the question. Googling 'solely' gives you the definition "not involving anyone or anything else" mentioning individuals first. – Yii Effe Jun 4 '19 at 11:24
  • It's the order the senses are listed in that's important. ODO (which is probably what you've reached) lumps the senses, in a less than helpful way. Though looking through other dictionaries (which research is usually expected on ELU), I can see that dictionaries won't help much in disambiguating here. / In your example, the positioning of the adverb after a lexical verb [work] forces the 'on nothing but' sense. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 4 '19 at 13:07

The meaning of the sentence is what you intend, that you worked with front-end development and did not work with anything (or anyone?) else.

(The use of "with" as the preposition does raise some ambiguity as to whether "front end development" is referring to a part of the project, or perhaps another team of people. If it is a part of the project, it might be clearer to say that you worked on front-end development.)

You could also say that you worked "only" with front-end development, or "exclusively" with it (or them).

If you wanted to say that you were the only one working, you would say something like "I was the sole person working with front-end development" or "I was solely responsible for front-end development."

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