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"Zum Schluss sind wir nur noch total muede ins Bett gefallen. Ab jetzt nur noch mit Navi!" (Context: The speaker and her friend were in a foreign city and could not find the way back to their hotel.)

What does noch mean in these sentences? I think in the first sentence it expresses the idea that falling into bed is one more thing they did after having done other things. But I'm clueless about why it's used in the second sentence at all.

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    "WIr sind nur noch ins Bett gefallen" == "It was all we could do to drop into bed". – Kilian Foth Mar 23 at 7:42
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I think in the first sentence it expresses the idea that falling into bed is one more thing they did after having done other things.

Not exactly. In the first sentence, the "nur noch" basically means that falling into bed was about the only thing they were still able to do, after the travel has worn them out so much.

In the second sentence, as SMoenig already hinted to, "noch" refers to the remainder, so to speak. They've travelled without a navigation system before, but for all remaining travel they'll be doing, they promise themselves to always use navigation.

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"nur noch" is a fixed expression which is frequently used in German. Its meaning varies between

  • only : Ich muss nur noch eine E-Mail berantworten.

  • nothing else than : Ich habe nur noch Schwierigkeiten.

  • exclusively : Ich werde ab jetzt nur noch mit FFP2-Maske einkaufen gehen.

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Your assumption about the first sentence is correct. In the second sentence it also emphasizes that they have been doing it differently (ohne Navi) before.

It isn't grammatically required in either of these sentences, but it is used to imply and emphasize, that something, that happened before, is relevant here.

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