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"Nous avons seulement deux possibilités."

Translation:We only have two possibilities.

January 7, 2013

38 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jwl99

To be clear regarding the difference between "seul" and "seulement", does this make sense?

seulement is an adverb modifying "to have": Nous avons seulement deux possibilités --> we only have 2 possibilities

seul is an adjective modifying "possibilities": Nous avons deux seules possibilités --> we have two possibilities only


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/toOliya

Yes, this makes perfect sense. I gave a very similar explanation on this here.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/alanvoe

What is the difference of meaning between "we only have 2 possibilities" and "we have 2 possibilities only" (supposing no stress in specific words) ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Olashmartinez

Why is We have two possibilities only wrong?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 2103

Standard word order would put "only" either just before or just after the verb, but least likely at the end of the sentence. It reminds me of Hunt for Red October: "Give me one ping only." The important thing is knowing how to say it in French. There is nothing to be gained by insisting that it should be at the end of the sentence in English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Olashmartinez

Merci, but it is not uncommon for the only to be placed at the end, improper as it may be.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/iainsona

Placing adverbs at the end of the sentence is NOT improper. n6zs is incorrect here. Adverbial placement when the adverb is placed directly beside the verb has its restrictions BUT most if not all adverbs can be placed either at the beginning or at the end of the sentence in BOTH languages. Nothing improper or even uncommon about it.

"We have two possibilities only." Good grammar.

"Only we have two possibilities." Good grammar but a different meaning in this case.

In this case though, we can also even use

"We have only two possibilities" because the "only" is qualifying "two" not "have."

How many? Only two.

Adverbs describe more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than just verbs. Heck, we even have adverbs that qualify adverbs! The "very" idea! :-)

If the adverb were qualifying the verb though, you WOULD have been able to put the adverb at the beginning of the sentence WITHOUT a change in meaning.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 2103

You have attributed the "improper" comment from Olash to me. I spoke about the standard position of the word but included that it could be placed at the end, though it is least likely to be used there. Possible answers include:

  • We have only two possibilities.
  • We only have two possibilities.
  • We have two possibilities only.

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/alanvoe

IMHO "usual" fits better here than "standard", @n6zs.

More details about the positioning of "only" in a sentence: https://ell.stackexchange.com/questions/16026/i-only-teach-you-vs-i-teach-only-you-vs-i-teach-you-only


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/porkcfish

This is trivial, but I am at the point in French where I like to know the minor differences, would Marko Ramius's line translate to, «Donnez-moi un ding unique»? One would not use «uniquement» or «seulement» here? Sort of like «un fils unique», "an only child".

Or would the more literal, «Donnez-moi seulement un ding» be used? Though I'd use «uniquement» because I associate «seulement» with people and animals (for some reason).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 2103

For "donnez-moi un ding unique" it is more natural to put "only" at the end because it adds dramatic emphasis (but it could also be placed before the noun). Most adjectives in English are placed before the noun. Grammar helps us here in the difference between "unique" and "uniquement". "Unique" (FR) is an adjective whereas "uniquement" is an adverb. As such, it modifies the verb, not the noun. So the meaning is just slightly different, as if to say "give me only (one thing)....a ping".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/S.Ghosh3

If so, why my translation "We have only two possibilities" was rejected?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheInfiniteFish

What's the difference between 'seulement' and 'ne...que'?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/awefulwaffle

"Seulement" and "ne... que" are synonyms, but they are not always interchangeable.

In this case, "Nous avons seulement deux possibilités" and "Nous n'avons que deux possibilités" mean the same thing because both "seulement" and "que" act to restrict the same thing in the sentence, "deux possibilités".

As this government of Quebec webpage points out, you don't use "seulement" and "ne...que" in the same sentence.

Lastly, "neverfox" commented about "You only live once / On ne vit qu'une fois". I think his/her summary is helpful, so I've copied it here:

... you cannot use "ne que" and must use «seulement» or «seul(e)» if:

  • there is no verb, e.g. «Seulement trois euros.»
  • when the sentence already contains a «que»
  • when "only" refers to the subject of the sentence, e.g. "Only my mother knows how to do it."
  • when it's the verb that you want to restrict, e.g. "I'm only joking"

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 2103

"ne...que" is used in the sense of "but", as in "Nous n'avons que deux possibilités" : We have but two possibilities. It is equivalent to "We only have two possibilities".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DianaM

In other words...no difference?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
  • 2103

No difference in meaning although there are some restrictions. See awefulwaffle comment above.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DianaM

Oh, how did I miss that? Thanks.


[deactivated user]

    Could "Nous avons" also translate to "There are" in this particular case or would that be completely outrageous?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
    • 2103

    If you want to say in English, "there are only two possibilities", it would be "il y a seulement deux possibilités". But "nous avons" is "we have".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/antlane

    Is there a difference of meaning in 'Seulement nous avons deux possibilités"?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/awefulwaffle

    Based on comments Sitesurf made elsewhere, I think your sentence means "however, we have two possibilities"

    Sitesurf demonstrated how the position of "seulement" in a sentence can change the meaning:

    "seulement" cannot be placed between the subject and the verb.

    • seulement, le jeu comprend 4 missions = however, the game includes 4 missions
    • le jeu comprend seulement 4 missions = the game only includes 4 missions (and nothing else)
    • le jeu comprend 4 missions seulement = the game includes 4 missions only (and not 5 or 6)

    Sitesurf explained in more detail what "seulement" can mean when placed at the beginning of the sentence ("Seulement, je suis ici"):

    • "seulement" at the beginning of a sentence expresses a restriction, a contradiction, a reserve...
    • Therefore, depending on context, you may translate it with: but, yet, however, though...

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Boomerang78

    "We have two possibilities alone" isn't accepted. Am I using improper grammar?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
    • 2103

    It's because "seulement" does not mean "alone". It means "only". http://www.wordreference.com/fren/seulement


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Boomerang78

    Yes, but "alone" is also used in place of "only" in this instance - it is a synonym for "only", after all. Duolingo often accepts other colloquialisms that don't necessarily line up word-for-word for their translations in English if the sentence or phrase carries the same meaning, so I don't see why this wouldn't be accepted.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
    • 2103

    "Alone" is not a synonym for "only" and it may not be substituted here. Think in French and examine the difference between "seul" and "seulement". Those two words are not synonyms either.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Boomerang78

    http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/only http://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/only

    "Alone" is one of the top-suggested synonyms on both websites. Are those resources simply wrong, or am I grammatically applying the word incorrectly?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
    • 2103

    The list on thesaurus.com is alphabetical. It is not "top-suggested", it just starts with the letter "a". I'm trying to tell you that it is not correct to pursue this line of reasoning. If you look hard enough, you may find something that will tell you "alone" and "only" are interchangeable. They are not. "Alone" does not work here. Please look at the original word in French: seulement


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Boomerang78

    The list on thesaurus.com is actually only alphabetical in a certain sense - they list synonyms based on accuracy first, as indicated by how yellow/gold the surrounding colored box is. The suggested words are separated by that sort of tiered system, in which they are sorted alphabetically, but accuracy comes first. If you look at other words you'll find the same thing - if you search "funny", for example, you'll find "amusing" and "whimsical" before "jolly" and "riot". In this case, "alone" is the top-suggested synonym for "only".

    I don't know if I had to search hard for these websites, since they were the first two websites suggested when searching for "only synonyms". It's not as if I sifted through multiple websites to find the exact ones that supported my argument.

    I'll accept the possibility that I'm wrong and leave it at that - and I'll stop bugging you about it - but it's hard to remain convinced when the crux of the issue here is whether or not "alone" and "only" are interchangeable when I have a few resources saying they are and you're saying they're not.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Daniel589120

    Can it mean "solely", I answered "We have solely two possibilities."?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
    • 2103

    "Seulement" means "only.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Daniel589120

    I always thought of solely as being a synonym for only. So, following your lead I went to WordReference, and found this entry, http://www.wordreference.com/enfr/solely.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
    • 2103

    Whereas "only" is an adjective in this sentence (modifying the noun phrase "two possibilities", be aware that "solely" is an adverb and can only modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. So it doesn't work in this sentence.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Brian608930

    Chances was an alternative solution for possibilities, but I used choices and was marked wrong. Isn't a choice closer to possibility than chance?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
    • 2103

    A choice (choix) is not the same thing as a possibility.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/diego.cantor

    why not "we have two choices"?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/n6zs
    • 2103

    No doubt Duo already told you that you left out a word: "seulement". If you don't include "only", how does anyone know that you know what it means.

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