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My Chinese teacher recently introduced us to the character 只. Specifically, using it to mean "only".

However, all of the examples that she gave were things, like:

A:你有没有X和Y?

B:没有Y,我只有X。

As in, to use 只 to specify only one out of a list of different things. However, I was curious, could you use 只 to indicate a smaller number of something? For example, could you say something like:

A:你有三件旗袍。对不对?

B:不对。我只有两件旗袍。

Thank you.

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    Yes you can. It's quite right Chinese.
    – user4072
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 1:19
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    YES! Of course you can! Good thinking! Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 1:31
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    Yes you can. not just means "only one of", but also means "only part of". eg: Q:Do you finished cooking? A:No, I 只 cooked vegetable A, vegetable B, meat C, I haven't cooked meat D, vegetable E, and the soup F. Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 2:49

1 Answer 1

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“只” means “by no means more than”,“only”. If you add this word, this means you have no more than ……, at most I have……

Compare:

1) I have no more than 2 dresses(我**只有**2件衣服)

2) I have 2 dresses(我有2件衣服,可能还有,但是未提及)

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  • Probably being pedantic, but "no more than" is slightly vague. If I have "no more than two dresses", it could be that I only have one dress, so "only" is a better approximation for 只, at least per the understanding I have of the word.
    – user5714
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 20:39

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