Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. My name is Alisha. In this lesson, I'm going to talk about some differences between the words "just" and "only." I'm going to look at these words in two ways that they are used. I'm going to focus on their adverb use in this lesson. Let's get started.
I want to begin by talking about the word "just." Just. So, I have two meanings here for "just." The first meaning for "just" is one that shares a meaning with "only." So, we're going to see this as the same kind of sentence pattern, the same usage. So, "just" or "only," in this way, it emphasizes a small degree or a small amount of something. So, when we want to make something seem smaller, or perhaps less important, we can use the word "just," or we can use the word "only" to do this. Some examples, "I ate just one cookie," here. So, the point that I want to make smaller, I want to emphasize, this "one cookie," I used "just" to show. So, not two, not three, one. I want to emphasize the small number there. Second, "We had just three days for our vacation." Here, I want to emphasize, "three days," was a small amount of time. So, "just three days," shows that the speaker feels it was not a large degree. Like it was not a large amount of time for vacation. So, we use this for emphasis. If we remove "just" from the sentence, it remains grammatically correct. "I ate one cookie," is okay. "We had three days for our vacation," is okay. But using "just" emphasizes a small degree or a small amount of something. So, we'll see this with "only" as well.
Okay, let's take a look at the second use of "just" for this lesson. We can use "just" for very recently completed actions or for actions happening in the very near future. When we use "just" to talk about near future actions, we use it with "about to." Also, you may hear some speakers use "just" with the โ€“ing form of a verb. So, that means that something is happening like now, it's beginning right now. So, it's extremely near future. You might hear that. So, with "about to," that means it has not started yet, but it's going to be very soon. So, let's look at some examples. First, "I just finished my homework." So, "finished," is past tense here. This refers to a very recently completed action. "Did you just call me?" This is a question. So, here, "call," is in present tense, yes, but we have "did," past tense here. "Did you call me?" "Did you just call me?" means in the very recent past, "Did you call?" So, using "just" shows that. Then these are near future situations. "I was just about to go to lunch." So, here you can use "was," you may hear some speakers using "I am." "I'm just about to go to lunch. Do you want to come?" We often use this past tense pattern when something changed our plans. Like, "I was just about to go to lunch, but this urgent task came up." So, sometimes we do that. You can hear both. It kind of depends on the speaker's feeling, a little bit. Okay. This one, "We're just about to leave." This uses that present tense I was talking about. "We are." "We're just about to leave." That shows that it's an upcoming plan for the very near future. Again, "just," appears before the verb here in the past tense examples.
Keep this in mind because for this lesson, for this content in general, the word order is very important here. So, when you're using "just" with this meaning, with meaning one, to emphasize a small degree, we need to use "just" before the word it modifies. So, here the emphasis, the word I want to emphasize is "one" or "three." So, "just" comes before that word. A mistake that many people make, and even native speakers make, is using "just" before the verb here. "I just ate one cookie," or "We just had three days for our vacation." They want to emphasize this but they position just before the verb, and this is incorrect. Because we use "just" in this position for this kind of pattern, for a recently finished action. "I just ate one cookie," sounds like, "I very recently ate one cookie." Which is correct. That could be a grammatically correct sentence, yes. But if you want to emphasize a small amount of something, you need to put it before that word you want to modify.
We'll see the same thing with "only," actually. So, when we're using "only," again, it shares this meaning with "just," for the first meaning here. We're emphasizing that small degree of something, and the same word order rule applies. We have to use "only" before the word it modifies. So, we can use the same example sentences. "I ate only one cookie," or "We had only three days for our vacation." Again, we can remove "only" from the sentence and the sentence remains grammatically correct. We're just emphasizing "one," or "three," in this case. And using "only," shows that the speaker feels it was a small amount or a small degree. If we position "only" somewhere else in this sentence, like, "I only ate one cookie," or, "We only had three days for our vacation," then it modifies the verb and it changes the sentence. For example, if I said, "I only ate one cookie," it means I did not do anything else to that one cookie. I only ate one cookie. I did not look at the cookie. I did not smell the cookie. I did not bake the cookie. I only ate one cookie. So, we're modifying the verb there. Here, it comes before "one," so I ate only one cookie. Not two, not three, not four, I ate only one. So, keep this in mind. This is a key point that many native speakers have trouble with, too.
Okay, let's take a look then at the second use. For this lesson, I want to talk about one more common use of the word, "only," and that is when it's used in conditionals. We use this in conditionals, "if" sentences, and "if" questions, to place our restriction on some action. This is when we want to say that one thing is not possible without another thing. So, maybe some of you have studied like "if," "only if," "as long as," and "unless," and so on. This is the kind of situations that we use these. For example, "We can take a long vacation this summer only if we start saving now." So, using "only if," shows that this situation, "taking a long vacation this summer," is possible, yes, but there's a condition. There's restriction. So, "only if we start saving now," means if we do not start saving now, we cannot go on vacation. So, we could say, yes, if we start saving now, sure, that would be okay. But this is emphasizing the restriction. This is possible only if we start saving now. We must start saving now. If we do not start saving now, it is not going to be possible. Let's look at one more example.
For example, in this case, I was thinking like a mother or father speaking to their child. "Yes, you can go to your friend's party. But only if you finish your homework." So, again, we see a condition. Like some situation that we're interested in, desiring, going to their friend's party and then we see the restriction, "only if you finish your homework." Only if you finish your homework can you go to the party. So, that means homework must be completed. The child must complete his or her homework. If that is done, the child can go to the party. So, this "only," shows that restriction more clearly than just "if." So, you need to use "only" to emphasize that restriction. So, we can do this. You might hear some native speakers split the "only" and the "if," into like--so they have a lot of distance in the sentence. Sometimes, I hear for example, "We can only take a long vacation this summer if we start saving now." In most cases, that doesn't cause a communication problem, but for the sake of clarity, I would recommend you try keep your "only" and "if" together, so that you can clearly see the conditions and the restrictions. Again, word order does matter here. Put this before the condition. This is the thing that must happen. It must be completed; it must be fulfilled in order for this other thing to happen. So, your word order does matter here.
So, from this lesson, a big point meaning one for "only" and "just," they are just the same. You can use them in the same way. Don't worry about choosing between these two. The thing to worry about is the position of the word in the sentence. Make sure to put it before the word you are modifying. If you would like some more information about this point, specifically the word "only," there is a lesson about positioning of the word "only" in sentence. So, please check the YouTube channel for that video.
Of course, if you have other questions or other comments, please feel free to let us know in the comments section of this video. Or try some making example sentences of your own with these words.
Thanks very much for watching this lesson and I will see you again soon. Bye-bye.

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๐Ÿ˜„ ๐Ÿ˜ž ๐Ÿ˜ณ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜’ ๐Ÿ˜Ž ๐Ÿ˜  ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜… ๐Ÿ˜œ ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜ญ ๐Ÿ˜‡ ๐Ÿ˜ด ๐Ÿ˜ฎ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ โค๏ธ๏ธ ๐Ÿ‘

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Monday at 01:28 PM
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Hello Yousef,


Thanks for getting in touch. ๐Ÿ˜„


You can say something similar, for example: "Thank you for the invite but I just ate my lunch."


I hope this is helpful to you. ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ‘


Sincerely,

ร‰va

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Yousef
Saturday at 06:23 AM
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Useful lesson.


Can I say "Thank you, I was just ate my lunch," As a reply to invitation??


Many thanks.โค๏ธ๏ธ

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Sunday at 02:56 PM
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Hi there Amber,


Thanks for your post and the positive feedback!


Please feel free to shoot through any questions you have throughout your studies.


Sincerely,

ร‰va

Team EnglishClass101.com

amber
Thursday at 04:48 AM
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Hey, very interesting lesson

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 08:55 PM
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Hello Darlyn,


Thank you so much for your kind message! ๐Ÿ˜‡โค๏ธ๏ธ

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Good luck with your language studies.


Kind regards,

Levente

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Darlyn
Sunday at 10:49 PM
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Hello. Interesting lesson!!

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Saturday at 06:54 AM
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Hello bilal,


You are very welcome. ๐Ÿ˜‡

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Good luck with your language studies.


Kind regards,

Levente

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bilal
Friday at 10:18 PM
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Hello


thank you very much for lesson ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Friday at 12:51 AM
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Hello gowtham.s,


Great to hear that! ๐Ÿ˜‡ Thank you very much for your message.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Good luck with your language studies.


Kind regards,

Levente

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EnglishClass101.com Verified
Friday at 12:44 AM
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Hello Amine,


You are very welcome. ๐Ÿ˜‡

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Good luck with your language studies.


Kind regards,

Levente

Team EnglishClass101.com