Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody! My name is Alisha.
In this lesson, I'm going to talk about "just," "already," "yet," and "still."
Let's get started!
Okay. First, I want to begin by looking at two uses of the word "just."
For this lesson, I'm going to focus on using "just" for recently finished actions and for actions that are planned for the near future. Yes, there are other ways to use "just," but I want to look at these to compare how we use them with "yet," "already," and "still."
So let's begin with this part, using "just" for recently finished actions, very recently finished actions, something that happened very, very recently. This is when we use "just." I would just, perhaps, using it for things that you completed within about an hour prior to the conversation. I feel like that's fairly safe for using "just."
If, however, you want to talk with someone that you haven't seen for a long time and you want to talk about some exciting news that happened like last week, it might be okay there too. So you can kind of feel when it's appropriate to use "just." But either way, it's for very recently finished actions, so something that happened to you very recently.
We use "just" in this way with simple past tense verbs.
So let's look at some examples:
"I just finished my homework."
I just finished my homework.
Maybe a moment ago.
I just finished my homework.
"We just left the store."
"Left" is the past tense of "leave," leave.
"We just left the store."
"He just called me."
He just called me.
"He just called me" is probably something that happened very recently, like a moment ago, again, or like an hour ago, perhaps, something that happened very recently.
So, in each of these examples, we're using simple past tense verbs to express that that was a very recent action. This is a key difference between this point and this point.
So, we use "just" to talk about simple past actions, yes, but when we're talking about actions for the future, we use it with simple present tense verbs, and you'll see this with "just about to."
So we use this for actions, plan for the near future with "about to," with a simple present tense verb. You may, in some cases, hear it with a progressive verb, the -ING form.
And we use "was" sometimes with this pattern and we do this to show that the action was intended. We show intention with "was," but not completion.
So, for example:
"I was just about to call you."
I was just about to call you.
This is something we would use in a situation where two people are separated, perhaps at the office. One person is in their office or like in their desk space, and the other person walks to their desk space. So, this person, this speaker here, Speaker A, might see Person B and think, ah, that person! "I was just about to call you." We use "just" here, "I was just" because in the past, a moment ago, my plan was to call you. But now, I see you, so I'll talk to you. I can see you, you're here, so I'm going to stop my plan, I'll quit that plan to call you. I"ll just talk to you.
That's the reason we used "was" here.
"I was just about to call you."
That's what's different about "I am just about to call that person."
So that's the difference, that's the reason we use past tense here, as opposed to present tense.
So, let's compare that to something like this:
"He's just about to leave!"
He's just about to leave!
So here, this "he's" is "he is."
"He's just about to leave!"
That means I can maybe see him, I see his plan or I know his plan, it's going to happen very soon.
"He's just about to leave."
So, you might hear someone use the progressive form in the sentence like this, like, "Oh, he's just leaving." So, you might hear that now because the action is happening in that moment. You may hear some people use that as well. So, you can choose which you prefer.
So, "He's just about to leave" or "He's just leaving," that's something happening now, very near future action.
One more example:
"We're just about to arrive."
We're just about to arrive.
Here, again, present tense, "we are," we are. This "we're" is "we are."
"We're just about to arrive."
Present tense. This is something that's going to happen in the very near future. We're just about to arrive.
Okay. So, this is how we use "just" to talk about those very recently finished actions and actions that we have planned for the near future.
So, let's compare this to the next set of words.
First, I want to talk about "yet," yet.
So we use "yet" for actions that we expect. We have some expectation that that action is going to happen, but the action has not happened, it has not happened. We usually use "yet" at the end of a sentence. It's commonly used at the end of a sentence. You may see it in the middle of a sentence, yes, but this tends to make the sentence sound much more formal, and at least in American English today, it sounds too formal, too polite for everyday speech, so we usually position this word at the end of a sentence or at the end of a question too.
We commonly use "yet" in statements with present perfect tense, present perfect tense.
So let's look at some examples of this.
"I haven't finished my homework yet."
I haven't finished my homework yet.
"Haven't finished," this is a negative...a negative present perfect expression.
"Haven't" is "have not" finished my homework yet.
So why do we use present perfect tense here?
The reason we do this is because it's like we're saying, I'm working on it now, so I started working on my homework in this case, I started working on my homework, I've been working on my homework, it's continued, but now, at this point in time in the conversation, the person I'm speaking to, it's not done. It's not done. I'm still working. I have not finished it yet.
So "I have not finished" refers to, there's still being, something else to happen. I still have things I need to do and I'll talk about "still" in the moment. So, there are other things that need to happen there.
So, this grammar right here shows us it's a continuing situation. "I haven't finished yet," but there's an expectation. "Yet" gives us the expectation. "I haven't finished my homework" is okay. "I haven't finished my homework." It's a simple statement. "I haven't finished my homework yet" shows the expectation of something. So this can give you a little bit of extra, like feeling to your sentence. "I haven't finished my homework yet" gives the expectation.
Let's look at another example.
"Have they called yet?"
Have they called yet?"
Again, this "yet" shows the expectation.
"Have they calledโ€ฆ"
This means from some point in the past, where the expectation started, until how, the conversation.
"Have they called yet?"
Again, this sentence, "Have they called..." just sounds like a simple question. We're just looking for information. "Have they called yet?" shows expectation from the speaker. The speaker is expecting a phone call. "Have they called yet?" That's what it shows us.
One more example:
"She hasn't arrived yet."
She hasn't arrived yet.
Again, we see this negative present perfect pattern, "has not arrived yet."
"She hasn't arrived yet" means we expect she is going to arrive. We are expecting her arrival, but it hasn't happened, so we're gonna wait, in other words. We will continue to await or we will continue to expect her arrival. So, "yet" shows us that expectation.
So let's compare this then, I used this word "still," still.
"Still" is like an "emphasized yet," so we have some kind of strong expectation for something. It's something that has not happened and we want to communicate that it really needs to happen or it really should happen. There's a strong expectation for that thing.
We place this before the verb.
So we don't put "still" at the end of a sentence, like we did with "yet." "Still" will come before the verb. And note, when I say "before the verb," I mean before the verb in present perfect tense, so that means before your "have" or "have not" in this case. So please place it before the verb, the whole verb, conjugated verb.
Soโ€ฆ"You still haven't finished your homework?"
You still haven't finished your homework?
That's the typical kind of expression and the typical kind of voice we use when we use "still."
"You still haven't finished your homework?"
So, this sentence, "you haven't finished your homework" shows us, yes, like it's a simple question. "You haven't finished your homework?"
This one though, shows us a strong expectation from the speaker. "You still haven't finished your homework?" like the speaker is shocked. Why not? What happened? Did you have a problem? That's the feeling of "still." There's like expectation there and maybe the person listening needs to give a reason. Why? Why haven't you finished your homework?
Another one:
"They still haven't called?"
They still haven't called?
So again, there's a strong expectation. Maybe we have waited all day for this phone call. They still haven't called? What happened? What's the problem? So the speaker is showing a strong expectation and kind of like shock or surprise. There's some kind of questioning feeling there.
One more:
"She still hasn't arrived?
She still hasn't arrived?
Again, there's a strong expectation here. She's supposed to arrive. The plan is she's arriving today, but she still hasn't arrived? What happened?
So we use "still" to show that expectation for something.
So, you'll notice, I'm not using "yet" in these sentences. We tend to use "still" without "yet." So, "still" gives us that emphasis, that emphasized feeling of "yet" with, like surprise or with shock. And "yet" gives us the feeling of expectation, expectation that something is going to happen.
Okay. Let's compare this then to "already."
So, you can kind of think of "already" as like the opposite of "yet," in that we use "already" for actions we expect and for actions that have happened. It's finished, it's done.
So, this can come before a verb or at the end of a sentence, both are used. And then we also use this with a present perfect tense as we did with "yet" as well.
So let's take a look at some examples of this.
"I've already finished my homework."
I've already finished my homework.
Compare this to:
"I haven't finished my homework yet."
Note, this sentence uses the negative, "have not finished."
This sentence uses the positive, "I have already finished my homework."
I have already finished my homework.
Another one:
"Have they already called?"
Have they already called?
"She's already eaten lunch."
She's already eaten lunch.
So, these show us, these actions or at least this one, this statement here is complete, it's done. "She's already eaten lunch." That action is finished.
Again, we can remove this, "She's eaten lunch." It becomes a simple statement of fact. When we say, "She's already eaten lunch," it's like, oh, we had this expectation and it's finished, it's done.
In this question too:
"Have they already called?"
Have they already called?
It's like the speaker has maybe a guess or has a feeling, maybe the call is done. Maybe the call is finished, I want to confirm that.
So sometimes, students ask, what is the difference between like this question:
"Have they already called?" and "Have they called yet?"
It's very, very close. It's really, really close, like there's never gonna be a communication issue if you like, decide on one or the other. But the feeling is, there's just a tiny, tiny, tiny difference in feeling.
"Have they called yet?" sounds a little like, again, the speaker has an expectation something is coming.
Here, "Have they already called?" the speaker has an expectation that it's finished, so it's done, it's complete, and so, they communicate the same idea. The speaker is looking for the same information, yes or no.
So, you can choose whichever you prefer:
"Have they already called?"
"Have they called yet?"
It's up to you, in a case like this. So, please don't worry so much about, like, oh, which one is more correct? They both communicate basically the same idea. It's just a little tiny difference in expectation. The expectation is that it's not done. The expectation is that it is done. That's the feeling here.
So, this is a quick introduction to these words that we use to talk about time periods and completed or uncompleted actions. So, I hope that this was useful for you. Thanks very much for watching this lesson and I will see you again soon. Bye-bye!

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