WORD PLACEMENT WITHIN A SENTENCE does, of course, affect the sense of the sentence. But there are few words whose precise location changes the meaning of the sentence as much as the word “only”.
Consider the following variants:
|Only John poured sugar in his coffee today.||No one else poured sugar in their coffee.|
|John only poured sugar in his coffee today.||He didn’t stir it or sift it, he just poured it.|
|John poured only sugar in his coffee today.||He didn’t add milk or cream.|
|John poured sugar only in his coffee today.||He didn’t pour sugar on his cornflakes as well.|
|John poured sugar in only his coffee today.||He didn’t pour it in anyone else’s coffee.|
|John poured sugar in his only coffee today.||He just had the one cup all day.|
|John poured sugar in his coffee only today.||That’s how recently he did it.|
|John poured sugar in his coffee today only.||He didn’t add sugar yesterday.|
Nit picking? Not really. The position of the word radically changes the sense. Imagine what it’s like to learn English as a second language.