is a capricious word. It is much given to
deserting its post and taking its place next the verb, regardless of
what it qualifies. It is more natural to say 'he only spoke for ten
minutes' than 'he spoke for only ten minutes'. ... But it cannot be
denied that the irresponsible behaviour of
sometimes create real ambiguity. Take such a sentence as:
We cannot tell what this means, and must rewrite
His disease can only be alleviated by a surgical operation.
Only a surgical operation can alleviate his disease (it cannot
be alleviated in any other way).
A surgical operation can only alleviate his disease (it cannot