It’s just one of those things by Angela Caldin

I’ve been pondering recently about the word just which has numerous meanings many of which are frequently found in day to day usage.

Noun and adjective

First it can be a noun as in the just – people who behave in a morally correct way

Second it can be an adjective meaning fair or morally correct:

The judge’s sentence seemed just considering all the evidence.

Adverb

It’s when just is used as an adverb that the fun begins:

Just can mean​ now, very soon or recently

Wait for me, I’m just coming.

It’s just gone twelve o’clock.

The expression just now can mean a very short time ago

​                Who was that at the door just now?

​And it can also mean at the present time

Kate’s very busy just now – can she call you back?

Just can mean exactly or equally

Things turned out just as I expected.

You’ve got just as many toys as your sister.

Just can mean only or simply

​                Her baby daughter is just a few days old.

It can be used to mean almost

​                I’ve just about finished painting the kitchen.

It can mean that there is a slight chance that something will happen

​                It’s just possible that we might be going away that weekend.

It can mean very or completely

What happened to her is just dreadful.

It can be used to make a statement or order stronger

He just won’t do as he’s told.

​And by contrast it can be used to reduce the force of a statement and to suggest that it is not very important:

Can I just borrow the scissors for a second?

It’s this last usage that many of us are prone to use in our emails and other correspondence.  We say ‘I’m just writing to ask’ or ‘I just wanted to’ or ‘Could I just’. A former Google executive pointed out in a viral blog that when just was used in this way there was a sense of an apology for interrupting and a belittling of the writer which implied lack of confidence, self-doubt and uncertainty.  She recommended that the word just used in this way should be banned and that writers would then see an increase in their confidence and authority.

I don’t know if there’s anything in it, but I have to admit to a tendency to use the word just like this. So my resolution for the new year is to stop doing it and see if, as a result, I become more assertive and self-assured.

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