Geography: Stand-alone cities I

December 20, 2001: Issue 4

SIM STYLE: Stand-alone cities
Many U.S. cities and several foreign cities are so well-known that they require no accompanying state or country designation. This doesn’t mean you CAN’T name the state or country if you feel it’s needed; it simply means that in most cases the city name alone is sufficiently clear.

Two notable exceptions: 
• Portland (Maine or Oregon?)
• Kansas City (Kansas or Missouri?)
For more information, including a complete list of stand-alone cities, see Issue 55, or go to the Stand-Alone Cities section in the SIM stylebook.

GRAMMAR: If you only knew …
Did the Smiths only choose neutrals for their master bath, or did they choose only neutrals? There’s a difference.
The word “only” can show up almost anywhere in a sentence, but its proper placement depends on what you’re trying to say. To put “only” in its place, make sure it shows up right before the word you’re trying to single out.

Check out the different meanings of the following examples:

• Only the Smiths chose neutrals for their master bath. (No one else did.)
• The Smiths only chose neutrals for their master bath. (They did nothing else in the decorating process.)
• The Smiths chose only neutrals for their master bath. (They chose no other colors.)
• The Smiths chose neutrals only for their master bath. (They didn’t choose neutrals anywhere else.)

That said, the point of putting “only” in its place is clarity. If no one will
misunderstand your meaning, put “only” where it sounds most natural (such as “I’m only going to say this once,” rather than the more technically correct “I’m going to say this only once”).

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