‘Just’, ‘Only’ and ‘Only Just’

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Using the adverbs ‘just’, ‘only’ and ‘only just’ is just one of the troubles you face when using English.

  • Just

  • ‘Just’ indicates a limit or exclusion. In this case it can be replaced by ‘only’.

    “I just invited you, not the others.”

    It can indicate an action has taken place in the moment being talked about. This ‘just’ cannot be replaced by ‘only’.

    “I just finished my homework before the film started on television.”

  • Only

  • ‘Only’ indicates a limit or exclusion. In this case it can be replaced by ‘just’.

    “I only invited you, not the others.”

    It can indicate an action has taken place in the moment being talked about. It cannot be replaced by ‘just’; ‘only’ means that it took a long time and/or a lot of effort, perhaps more than expected.

    “I only finished my work at ten o’clock and had to hurry to catch the last bus.”

  • Only Just

  • ‘Only just’ tends to be used with past or present perfect tenses and means that an action has taken place in the moment being talked about. It is stronger than ‘just’ or ‘only’ used by themselves.

    “Have you been waiting long?”

    “No, I only just arrived, too.”