Using Just

Just has several meanings.

Time

Just is used with a verb to indicate the immediate past.

  • They have just gone. (i.e. They went a very short time ago.)

Just can also emphasise the idea of at the present or close to the present.

  • ‘Where is my tea?’ ‘I am just going to make it.’
  • I was just about to tell you.

Note that just now can mean either at this moment or a few moments ago, depending on the tense.

  • I am busy just now. (at this moment)
  • Tom was here just now. (a few minutes ago)

Only

Just can mean only.

  • Complete set of garden tools for just $19.99!
  • He is just an ordinary man.

In some contexts the meaning is more like scarcely.

  • We just caught the train.
  • I arrived just in time.

This meaning can be emphasised by only.

  • I have got only just enough money for a cup of coffee.

Exactly

Just often means exactly.

  • It is just two o’clock.
  • This is just as good as that.
  • Just then, we heard a strange noise.

Tenses

When just means a moment ago, a present perfect tense is most common in British English.

  • ‘Where is John?’ ‘He has just gone out’.
  • I have just had a call from Alice.

In American English, a past tense is common in this case.

  • ‘Where is John?’ He just went out.
  • I just had a call from Alice.

When just now means a moment ago, it is used with a past tense in both British and American English.

  • I heard a strange noise just now.
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Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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