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There has been but a single/one person in the room.

There has been only a single/one person in the room.

Question:

What's the difference between "but" and "only" in this case?

How shall I use "but" properly in this case?
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"only" is the everyday word used in conversations and most journalism.
"but" is a less used synonym used in more literary and formal contexts.
CJ
Comments  
Thank you!