just


just
just adverb.
1. When it means ‘a little time ago’, just is used differently in BrE and AmE. In BrE the usual construction is with a perfect tense formed with have: I have just arrived home, but in AmE the verb is normally a simple past form: I just arrived home. Care needs to be taken to avoid misunderstanding, since just can also mean ‘only, simply’ as in They are just good friends. So a sentence such as BrE I have just seen my brother and, even more, AmE I just saw my brother can mean either ‘I have recently seen my brother’ or ‘I have seen my brother and no one else’ (or, perhaps, ‘I have seen my brother and have done nothing else’). In speech, intonation will usually clarify the meaning, but in written English the difficulty may need to be resolved by rephrasing.
2. The phrase just now has several meanings, and the primary meaning can change from one part of the English-speaking world to another. The principal possibilities are (1) with past reference, ‘a short time ago’

• (What was it you were saying just now, child? —E. Jolley, 1985

• When I returned to the house just now I sensed that something —unusual had occurred —S. Craven, 1993)

(2) with a present continuous tense, ‘at this moment’

• (Just now I'm going with a Catholic, who lives down in Armagh —F. Kippax, 1993)

(3) with a simple present, ‘for the time being, right now’, common generally with a negative

• (She cannot afford to think about her mother just now —J. Neale, 1993)

but characteristically Scottish in positive use

• (I have my home in Britain just now —Express (Scottish edition), 2007)

(4) with a future tense in South African and Indian English, ‘very shortly, in a little while’

• (The men on cell duty will do that just now —A. Sachs, SAfrE 1966).


Modern English usage. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

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