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Only, alone, lonely, by oneself, single
1) When placed before a noun, thus being a part of a nominal group, "being the single one" is expressed by ONLY.
- The only person I know here is you! (You are the only person I know here...)
* used with a noun= ONLY ONE + noun // in the negative= NOT a SINGLE + noun.
- He has only one word and always keeps it...
- No need to insist... I won't say a single word before he arrives...
2) In any other cases, ONLY should not be used; use ALONE/ BY ONESELF/ or LONELY.
ALONE and BY ONESELF are describing an objective reality, a situation where the person is "physically" alone, unaccompanied by anyone else.
Alone cannot be used before a noun: (an alone child)
- I can do this alone... I don't need anybody's help.
- She was sitting by herself when I saw her in the waiting room.
3) On the contrary, LONELY expresses an inner feeling of solitude, without taking into account the number of people who are actually present: you can be in the middle of a crowd and feel LONELY anyway. => to feel lonely. Lonely may be used before a noun (A lonely child) and after a verb (she was lonely...)
- Since her arrival here, she's been feeling lonely and depressed...
Easy, isn't it? Here's the test... Go for it... You have THE FORCE.
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