Sometimes we need to highlight something by directing readers’ attention to it. In doing this we use a number of words. These focusing words are usually used before or after the word to be focused. Observe, for example, the use of highlighted words in the following sentences.1. (a) God can help you.(b) God alone can help you.2. (a) I need a shirt.(b) I need only a shirt.3. (a) He was punished because he disobeyed his teachers.(b) He was punished simply because he disobeyed his teachers.(c) He was punished mainly because he disobeyed his teachers.Words like the ones used in the above sentences are of great value to us when we want to point to something exclusively, clearly, or specially. The prudent use of such words can help us express our thoughts very effectively. Such words can be called focusing adverbs/adjuncts, and can be classified into two groups:
Limiters, andAdditives.Limiters, in general, restrict what is said to the part focused. Limiters which restrict what is said only to the part focused is called exclusives, while those which restrict what is said mainly or particularly to the part focused are known as particularizers.Exclusives include the following.Simply, alone, only, purely, just, merely, exclusively.And among the particularizers the common ones are:Chiefly, particularly, in particular, mainly, especially. Mostly.Now observe the differences in the meanings of these two types of limiters.He only told me this.(He did nothing else. All he did was to tell me this.)He told me only this.(He told nothing else)Only he told me this.(Nobody else told me anything about this; only HE told me.)It’s obvious from the above examples that the exclusive limiters are position-sensitive; that is, they change their focus with the change of their positions.)Now let’s look at the use of these particulizers.He failed mainly he hadn’t studied hard.(There were other reasons of his failing, his not studying being the main.Contrast the sense of the above sentence with that of the following one.He failed only because he hadn’t studied hard.(There was no other cause of his failing.)This party is for young couples. But preference will be given to the ones having at best two children.
The above two sentences can be re-written as:This party is for young couples, especially the ones having at best two children.Now try to understand the change in the meaning of the sentence if the word ‘only’ were used in place of the word ‘especially’. In that case, the part ” This party is for young couples” would be redundant (unnecessary). Therefore, if we meant “only”, we would have to rewrite the sentence as the following:This party is only for couples having at best two children.In light of the above discussion, it can be said that we should be careful enough in using particularizers and exclusives in sentences. In no way should we use a word of the one type when actually a word of the other type is needed.