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.

exercise 1

exercise 2

exercise 3

exercise 4

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