Hi,

1.His sole/only goal is to start his own business.

2.She is the sole/only student in the class.

3.He is our sole/only child.

4.Cutting costs is the sole/only solution.

5.She was the sole/only survivor of the crash.

6.You are the sole/only woman I have ever loved in my life.

7.The old lady was the sole/only passenger on the bus.

Can I use only and sole in all the sentences above?

Is there any difference in meaning between the two words?

Thanks a lot.
Hi,

1.His sole/only goal is to start his own business.

2.She is the sole/only student in the class.

3.He is our sole/only child.

4.Cutting costs is the sole/only solution.

5.She was the sole/only survivor of the crash.

6.You are the sole/only woman I have ever loved in my life.

7.The old lady was the sole/only passenger on the bus.

Can I use only and sole in all the sentences above? Yes, but in some instances its use seems outdated and awkward to me (#1, 2, 6).

Is there any difference in meaning between the two words? No.

Thanks a lot.
Hi JohnParis,
JohnParisYes, but in some instances its use seems outdated and awkward to me (#1, 2, 6).
Could you please explain why they are outdated and awkward?

Do you mean we don't say them that way?

How do I rewrite them not in awkward way?

I rarely hear the use of 'sole' for 'only'. Is it more formal than 'only'?

Thank you very much for your reply.
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AnonymousHi JohnParis,
JohnParisYes, but in some instances its use seems outdated and awkward to me (#1, 2, 6).
Could you please explain why they are outdated and awkward?
Do you mean we don't say them that way?
How do I rewrite them not in awkward way?

I rarely hear the use of 'sole' for 'only'. Is it more formal than 'only'?

Thank you very much for your reply.
Yes, "sole" is generally considered more formal (serious) than "only" - but not always, as you will see below:

I find N° 1 to be awkward because the use of the words "sole" and "goal" next to each might create "tongue twisting" and because when spoken together they just don't sound nice. They don't rhyme, but they have similar sounds that "grate upon ear".

N° 2 it just sounds too formal when talking about schools and students today. Outdated.

N°3 same thing - can you imagine talking to a parent that says "he is our sole child"? Sounds positively biblical.

N°4 this sentence can go either way. In business English, you will hear "sole" more often. So it's 50-50. Personally, I would still prefer "only" because it is less formal and more direct (like business should be)

N°5 this sentence, however, is one in which you will hear "sole" used often. "Sole" survivor lends more seriousness to the statement and is often employed by news broadcasters and journalists to underline the gravity of a situation where there were deaths and only one sole survivor

N°6 If I said this to my wife she would look at me oddly. She would expect the word "only", and "sole" is just too formal to be considered genuine by her.

N°7 This too could be a 50-50 sentence (either "sole" or "only" would be OK). If there were a crash and the old lady was the sole survivor, I'd say "sole" is OK. If the speaker was, say, a police detective and he was telling his partner that the old lady was the only passenger on the bus (and that the bad guys they were looking for were nowhere to be seen) then only is the word he would use.

I hope that this lengthy response answers your questions and that you now have an idea about how to rewrite your sentences so that they are not awkward and they don't sound too formal or overly serious (except where necessary).

The sole sole left for sale didn't look too fresh but it was my only choice. :-)
Hi JohnParis,

Thank you so much for your detailed and very helpful reply.
Note also (unless I missed it in John's post) that 'an only child' is idiomatic, which probably reflects on word choice in #3.
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Well,it was quite nicely explained. I found this a good way to share your views.
sorry is there differenc betweenn the sole and sole...and can the ward sole be the synonym of the ward only..or Sole is the synonym of THE only