Clearly Confusing: If Only vs Not Only

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If only I had thought of this sooner!

Not only would I have helped my learners but also the blog followers.

 

There they are. Double whammy!  I have used the two expressions we will be looking at today in context.

They actually came up in the same lesson that focused on e-mail writing. We were reviewing  linking expressions for correlation and conditions.

If only’ (i.e. Italian…se soltanto) is used in unreal conditions so 2nd and 3rd conditionals to be more precise.

2nd Conditional: In an unreal situation in the present or future , the condition is expressed using the past simple and the result with Would, Could or Might  + base verb. In the case of ‘If ony’, the result part can easily be omitted.  N.B. the past of can is could.

  • If only I had more free time. (I wish I had more time)
  • If only he were younger, I could date him.
  • If only they could read the book, it would be great.

3rd Conditional: In an unreal situation in the past, the condition is expressed using the past perfect and the result with Would, Could or Might  + have + past participle. In the case of ‘If only’, the result part can easily be omitted.

  • If only I had had more time. (i.e. I regret not having  had more time )
  • If only we had done the job better, they would not have complained.
  • If only she had called me, I might have accepted her apology.

‘Not only…but also’ (i.e. Italian…non solo, ma anche) when expressing a correlation.

In this case, the verb that comes after “Not only” is either inverted or used with an auxiliary.  It’s like placing the verb in the question form.  Here are a few examples.

  • Not only did we reach the result but we also finished on time.
  • Not only has he got a great voice, but he is also a good looking guy.
  • Not only are you tired, but you also seem hungry.

As usual, I tried to keep this simple.  It’s the quick and dirty version!

If you learned something useful then please share this post with a friend so they might learn something too.

Lem..xo!

p.s. many thanks to SDC for the inspiration

 

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