Just can be used as an adjective. It is related to the idea of ’justice’ and usually means ‘proper’ or ‘correct’.
- He is a just man.
- I think their punishment was just.
There is an expression just deserts which means that someone got the punishment they deserved.
- Twenty years in prison? I think he got his just deserts
There is also an adverb form justly
- He has been justly praised for all his work for charity.
However, we are mainly concerned in this lesson with the adverb just.
Just can mean ‘exact’.
- You look just like your father,
- That is just what I was looking for.
- It’s just like Steve to be difficult.
Just can mean ‘nothing more than’.
- Just do what I say.
- Just a quick word.
- I have just met him a few times
- You will just have to be patient.
Just can be used for emphasis and then means ‘completely’.
- It’s just amazing what he has done.
- I just can’t believe it.
Just can mean ‘a small amount’.
- I had just enough time to talk to her before I left.
- I just missed him. He had only gone a few minutes before I got there.
- It should take just over an hour to get there.
Just can also mean ‘a small distance’.
- My office is just down the corridor.
- There is a good restaurant just around the corner.
- The Spanish border is just south of Ceret.
Just with a past tense can mean ‘very recently’.
- I was just trying to phone you.
- I have just seen him.
Notice that just is used with a Present Perfect in British English but frequently with the Past Simple in American English.
- She’s just arrived.
- She just arrived.
- We have just been talking about it.
- We were just talking about it.
With progressive forms, just can mean ‘in the immediate future’.
- I was just going to bed when you called.
- I am just coming.
With the present tense, just means ‘now’.
- I am busy just at the moment. Can you call me back later?
- I can’t do that just now.
Here are some useful expressions.
Just about means ‘almost’ or ‘nearly’.
- Henry seems to have just about finished his project.
- I have had just about all I can take from my boss. I am thinking of resigning.
Just a minute/second/moment is used to stop the movement or the speech of somebody.
- Just a moment. Where do you think you are going?
- Just a second. Say that again.
Just as has the idea of ‘same as’.
- He is just as unpleasant as his wife.
- Just as I anticipated, he left before finishing the work.
Just as well means that it is good that something has happened, even if it wasn’t expected.
- It is just as well that you found out now that he is unreliable.
- It is just as well that I didn’t take that job as the company has gone into liquidation.
Just like that means ‘suddenly’.
- A big thunderstorm started just like that. We all got soaked.
- He was here a moment ago. Then he vanished just like that.
Just the thing means that something is perfect or the best.
- I have just the thing you need to help you sleep better.
- That rose is just the thing to put in your hair.
Not just yet is similar to ‘not yet’ but suggests that the action will be finished soon.
- I haven’t quite finished reading his report just yet.
- Lunch? Not just yet. Give me five minutes.
Not just is similar to ‘not only’.
- She’s not just a colleague, she’s a good friend.
- It’s not just an ordinary birthday, it’s your 50th.