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JUST vs ONLY: How to Use Only vs Just Correctly

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Just vs Only! Are they the same or different?

Just vs Only

ONLY Definition and Examples

  • The word ‘only’ can be used in various ways and depending on the context the meaning of the word changes.
  • It can be an adjective, and adverb and a conjunction.

1. Recently (adjective)

E.g. I finished my homework only an hour ago.

2. Single in superiority or distinction; unique; the best (adverb)

E.g. Mozart was only five when he started composing.

       I only expect you to listen to what I have to say.

It’s only an idea.

3. Having no sibling or no sibling of the same sex (adverb)

E.g. I’m an only child. I don’t have any siblings.
I think it is an advantage to be an only child.

4. Only one/once

E.g.This is the only car I’ve ever owned.
This is the only photograph I have of my great grandfather.
Only you can understand me.

5. ‘Only’ can also be used as a conjunction it can be used instead of ‘but’.

E.g. We both live in the same city only I live closer to the sea.
He’s got a great sense of humour only he drinks too much.

JUST Definition and Examples

  • Mostly ‘just’ is used to mean ‘a short time ago’

1. Very recently

E.g. I’ve (only just) just woken up.

2. Guided by truth,reason,justice,and fairness (adjective)

E.g. We hope to be just in our understanding of such difficult situations.

3. Basically

E.g. He’s just an idiot. Don’t listen to a word he says.

4. At the exact time

E.g. Gosia called me just as I arrived at the airport.

5. Any moment now

E.g. I was just about to do that.

6. ‘Just’ also means ‘exactly’ / Exactly or precisely (adverb)

E.g. This is just (exactly) what I wanted to do.

       This is just what I needed.

7. Actually; really; positively (adverb)

E.g. This summer day is just so beautiful.

*** In this case ‘just’ cannot be replaced by ‘only’.

E.g. I’ve just spoken to Harry about the proposals.

Just vs Only: What’s Difference?

  • Simply

– I only wanted to ask a quick question.

– I just wanted to ask a quick question.

  • Only reason

– He only calls me when he needs help.

– He just calls me when he needs help.

  • Less that I want

– I have just a few chocolates left.

– I have only a few chocolates left.

  • When ‘only’ is used as an adverb is can be replaced by ‘just’.

– Mozart was only five when he started composing.

– Mozart was just five when he started composing. etc.


Tesfahun yohanis

Saturday 6th of January 2018

Absolutely lovely for me. Really important. Keep going.


Monday 20th of November 2017

It is an important posted lesson,since was very confising to me either,so thanks for posting.