In French, to express only with simple tenses, you use a specific negative structure: ne ... que.
Negative sentences with "only" in French
Look at these cases:
Notice that to express restriction (only), we use the restrictive structure ne... que.
Though it looks similar to the ne ... pas (not) structure, there are some differences in the way to use it.
Note that ne is always placed in front of the verb.
However, as in English where you can move only in front of the element it's restricting, in French you will place que accordingly:
The position of the word que can then subtly change the meaning of the sentence (just as the position of only can in English).
You CANNOT place que in front of the verb, so you CANNOT express He only eats pasta on Saturdays.
This statement being ambiguous in English anyway, in French you would have to choose to insist on pasta or Saturdays.
Note: You can also use seulement which means only in French, though it is not as elegant.
See also the compound tenses cases Using restrictive ne … que to express only with compound tenses (French Negations)
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