grammatical expression: if only


For this blog entry, I’d like to write about the short expression, “if only”. We use it when we want to express a strong desire for something. Let me give you some ways to use it in sentences.

I really hate my job! If only I could get another one.

If only I could find a girlfriend. I would be so much happier than I am now.

A: I wish Dan wouldn’t be late all the time.

B: If only! Unfortunately, that’s his nature.

If only my parents would stop pressuring me and my wife to have a baby! My life would be much less stressful!

As you can see from my examples, we often put “I could” after the term “if only”. This is the case of my first two examples.

After “if only” we can also put “would”, as in my last example. In these cases, we don’t put “I” between them; it must be another person or other people.

Sometimes, we use “if only” in a sentence by itself. In these cases, it’s used as a response to another person’s statement. This is the case of my third example.

The term “if only” is very close in meaning to “I wish”, but it’s a little bit stronger and more formal.

As I mentioned, this is used to express a strong desire for something. Please note that the desire can be either a positive thing the person wants, as in my first two examples, or it can be something negative that the person wants to stop, as in my last two examples.


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