Men Only

Ambiguous sign restricting entryWhat the heck does this sign mean?

Does it mean that men are allowed “only beyond this point,” restricting their movement?

Or does it mean that “men only” are allowed beyond this point, restricting the movement of oh, say, women? Given that it’s at the entry to a men’s changing room, I expect that is the meaning. That meaning might better be rendered as “Only men beyond this point.”

Or, perhaps, “No women or girls are allowed in this men’s changing room.”

Oh, if only only weren’t so pesky.


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4 Responses to Men Only

  1. “Only” misplaced is one of my pet editorial peeves followed closely by the misuse of “begs” as in “begs the question” instead of “raises the question.” You might have commented on the orthography, too, but you can rerun the photo for another blog post. Keep the faith in right reasoning alive, Isabel! Language matters.

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    My former teaching buddy Eric McLuhan used to use a sample sentence, such as the one below, to show how “only” needed to be correctly placed to convey the intended meaning.
    Only I punched him in his nose.
    I only punched him in his nose.
    I punched only him in his nose.
    I punched him only in his nose.
    I punched him in only his nose.
    I punched him in his only nose.
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim -I guess the general rule is to put “only” immediately before what it’s modifying, but I like these examples. Much clearer!

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