Quick answer
"Only" is an adverb which is often translated as "solo", and "solely" is an adverb which is often translated as "exclusivamente". Learn more about the difference between "only" and "solely" below.
An adverb is a word that describes a verb, an adjective, or other adverbs (e.g. to run quickly, very tired).
1. (no more than)
a. solo
I have been married only once.Me he casado solo una vez.
b. solamente
I was told only five northern white rhinos are still alive in the world.Me dijeron que solamente existen cinco rinocerontes blancos del norte en todo el mundo.
2. (exclusively)
a. solo
This is an honor reserved only for important people.Este es un honor que se reserva solo para gente importante.
b. solamente
Only people with boarding passes are permitted beyond this point.Solamente personas con pases de abordar se permiten más allá de este punto.
c. únicamente
Only people older than 21 years old can enter the bar.Únicamente gente de 21 años o más puede entrar al bar.
3. (merely)
a. solamente
I'm only an assistant. My boss makes those decisions.Solamente soy un asistente. Mi jefe toma esas decisiones.
b. simplemente
Oh, come on! I was only joking.Vamos, que simplemente estaba bromeando.
4. (no longer ago than)
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
I saw them only last week and they seemed happy. I can't believe they broke up.Los vi apenas hace una semana y parecían felices. No puedo creer que hayan roto.
It seems like only yesterday that we were getting married, and now we're celebrating our 25th anniversary.Parece que solo fue ayer que nos casamos, y ahora estamos celebrando nuestro 25 aniversario.
An adjective is a word that describes a noun (e.g. the big dog).
5. (one)
a. único
This tree is the only one of its species.Este árbol es el único de su especie.
A conjunction is a word that connects words, phrases, clauses, or sentences (e.g. The cat and the dog slept.).
6. (adversative)
a. pero
I'd really like to go, only I have to work that day.De veras me gustaría ir, pero tengo que trabajar ese día.
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An adverb is a word that describes a verb, an adjective, or other adverbs (e.g. to run quickly, very tired).
1. (only)
a. exclusivamente
Ed's essay about his family's Hispanic culture dealt almost solely with food.El ensayo de Ed sobre la cultura hispana de su familia trataba casi exclusivamente de comida.
b. solo
These migrants rely solely on the support of charities and local authorities.Estos inmigrantes cuentan solo con el apoyo de las organizaciones de benéficas y las autoridades locales.
c. sólo
I did it solely for your own good.Lo hice sólo por tu propio bien.
d. solamente
My blog is addressed solely to professional mechanics.Mi blog va dirigido solamente a mecánicos profesionales.
e. únicamente
Delia has decided to focus solely on the writing of her novel this year.Este año Delia ha decidido centrarse únicamente en la escritura de su novela.
2. (alone)
a. solo (adjective)
He's an outstanding batter, and he solely carries the rest of his mediocre team.Es un bateador excepcional y es él solo quien tira del resto de su mediocre equipo.
b. único (adjective)
Of course the government is not solely to blame for the crisis, but it hasn't done anything to get out of it.Por supuesto, el gobierno no es el único responsable de la crisis, pero no ha hecho nada por salir de ella.
c. por sí solo
Marisa tries to make me feel guilty for what she did solely, without any help from me.Marisa trata de hacerme sentir culpable por algo que hizo ella por sí sola, sin mi ayuda.
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