Eating pasta

MarkC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Eating pasta

Il ne mange des pâtes que le samedi.  He eats pasta only on Saturdays.

Not sure the English is quite right there.. shouldn't it be he only eats pasta on Saturday.. he eats pasta only means he eats nothing else

l ne mange que des pâtes le samedi. He eats only pasta.... That is correct and is synonymous with he eats only

The French looks very clear.. it is the English that is impossible!

Asked 11 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer
MaartenC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

You're right Mark - the 'problem' is that in practice English allows 'only' to be moved around in a sentence, and context is often used to determine meaning. This happens, of course, regardless of any 'rules' that prescriptive grammar may include on where 'only' should be placed depending on the intended meaning. 

French is very clear as to where 'ne .... que'  cannot go, and where it must go for the different meanings. There are by my count 5 places where 'only' could be placed in the sentence, but just 2 places where the 'que' can go. Obviously, as the English placements of 'only' give more than 2 different meanings, they cannot all be covered with 'ne ..que'!

MarkC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Yes.. an eats shoots and leaves moment!.. and in this case, the punctuation cannot help.. maybe the stress.. but even then???

MarkC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Thanks Cécile... good to know that others on are on the case... doubt if it will change anything but, and in the Kwiziq example, the only seems to qualify the pasta not the saturday... maybe, "he eats pasta on Saturday only" is the only correct version...

Eating pasta

Il ne mange des pâtes que le samedi.  He eats pasta only on Saturdays.

Not sure the English is quite right there.. shouldn't it be he only eats pasta on Saturday.. he eats pasta only means he eats nothing else

l ne mange que des pâtes le samedi. He eats only pasta.... That is correct and is synonymous with he eats only

The French looks very clear.. it is the English that is impossible!

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