How is this messing with word order? The ORDER is not changed, but
one word can be added in all the places because it can be either an
adjective or an adverb. (It can be a conjunction too, but it is not here.) So
what is happening is that a modifier is added at any point you like
because all the words can take either an adverb or an adjective. But that
is not an alteration in the fundamental pattern of the sentence. It does
alter meaning though because the different functions of the "only" alter
each word to which it is attached.
Date sent: Sat, 11 Jan 2003 15:33:13 -0500
Send reply to: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
From: "Rickard A. Parker" <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: grammar/"messing around"
To: [log in to unmask]
Nancy Gish wrote:
> We can mess around,
Okay. A little messing around with word order in English:
I helped my dog carry my husband's slippers yesterday.
In college I was introduced to the combination of meanings one can get
with the uses of the word "only" in the sentence "I hit him in the eye." I
have just come across a better and more entertaining use of the word
"only". Here it is, from Marilyn vos Savant's "Ask Marilyn" column in the
August 25, 1996 issue of Parade Magazine (Page 16).
There is only one word that can be placed successfully in any of the
numbered positions in this sentence to produce 10 sentences of
different meaning (each sentence has 10 words):
(1) I (2) helped (3) my (4) dog (5) carry (6) my (7) husband's (8)
slippers (9) yesterday (10).
What is that word?
- Gloria J., Salt Lake City, Utah
The word is "only," which makes up the following 10 sentences:
1. Only I helped my dog carry my husband's slippers yesterday.
(Usually the cat helps too, but she was busy with a mouse.)
2. I only helped my dog carry my husband's slippers yesterday.
(The dog wanted me to carry them all by myself, but I refused.)
3. I helped only my dog carry my husband's slippers yesterday.
(I was too busy to help my neighbor's dog when he carried them.)
4. I helped my only dog carry my husband's slippers yesterday.
(I considered getting another dog but my cat disapproved.)
5. I helped my dog only carry my husband's slippers yesterday.
( I didn't help the dog eat them; I usually let the cat do that.)
6. I helped my dog carry only my husband's slippers yesterday.
(My dog and I didn'y have the time to help my neighbor's husband.)
7. I helped my dog carry my only husband's slippers yesterday.
(I considered getting another husband, but one is enough.)
8. I helped my dog carry my husband's only slippers yesterday.
(My husband had two pairs of slippers, but the cat ate one pair.)
9. I helped my dog carry my husband's slippers only yesterday.
(And now the dog wants help again; I wish he'd ask the cat.)
10. I helped my dog carry my husband's slippers yesterday only.
(And believe me, once was enough - the slippers tasted terrible. )