Just vs Only
Just and Only are two words in English that have to be used carefully so that their meanings are distinguished well indeed simply because there is a clear difference between just and only. Before looking into the difference between just and only in detail, first of all we should have a general idea of the two words. As words, just is used as an adjective and an adverb in the English language. Then, the word only is used as adverb, adjective as well as a conjunction. Only has its origins in Old English. Just has its origins in Late Middle English.
What does Just mean?
The word just means a moment ago as in the sentence given below.
Albert just left his home.
It only means that Albert left his home a moment ago.
It is interesting to note that in American English the past tense is meant by the usage of just as in the sentence given below.
He just went out.
Observe the following sentence.
Florence just had a conference talk with her colleagues.
In this sentence, you can see that the word just is used to indicate past tense. However, remember that it is the recent past.
What does Only mean?
On the other hand, the word only indicates the lone object, thing or person left out as in the sentence mentioned below.
Johnson is the only boy in the class who secured distinction in the exams.
Here, you would understand that Johnson is the lone boy in the class to have secured distinction in the exams.
The word only is used, on the other hand, to lay emphasis on a person or a thing as in sentences given below as examples.
Only Francis in the group knows the truth.
Winston is the only boy in the class who is taller than Francis.
In the two sentences given above, you can see that the word only is used to lay emphasis on two persons, namely, Francis and Winston respectively.
If the word only is used at the end of a sentence, it gives an extra meaning altogether as in the following sentence.
Out of all the questions he answered a few only.
In this sentence, the word only gives an extra meaning that he did not know the answers for the other questions or found the time to answer them. Sometimes the sentence can be rewritten as,
Out of all the questions he answered just a few only.
What is the difference between Just and Only?
• The word just means a moment ago. On the other hand, the word only indicates the lone object, thing or person left out.
• Sometimes the word just is used to indicate past tense. Past tense in the sense for actions that had happened in the recent past.
• The word only is used, on the other hand, to lay emphasis on a person or a thing.
• If the word only is used at the end of a sentence, it gives an extra meaning altogether .