Only vs. Just – Are they the same or different?
- 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.
- Mostly ‘just’ is used to mean ‘a short time ago’
1. Very recently
E.g. I’ve (only just) just woken up.
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 or ONLY
– 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.