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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: ONLY & JUST: What’s the difference?

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This is the only kind of book I like to read.

Hi. James from engVid.

This is the only book I like to read or kind of book.

I say this because it's a very funny word: "only", because it has a cousin named "just".

And "only" and "just" in the English language, they get used a lot.

You'll hear people: "I just want this, and I only want that."

So a lot of students who are studying English will believe that they are the same word or

they're almost exactly the same, but this is not true.

"Only" and "just" have one similar meaning, and you might say 60% of the time they match

up, so you can say it.

"It's only five dollars.

It's just five dollars."

But don't get confused that because they match up like that, that they're always the same.

So, this is why E's having a problem.

He looks at this sentence: "This is the _______ time you can come."

Is it: "This is the just time you can come" or "This is the only time you can come"?

Well, in today's lesson, I'm going to help address your problem with "only" and "just",

and help you figure it out, and give you a couple of other uses for them.

Are you ready?

Let's go to the board.

Okay, E. Let's figure out which one it should be.

And I'm going to tell you right now that: "This is the only time."

And when we get over here, we're going to figure out why.


So: "just".

"Just" and "only" are similar when we use them in an adverb word...

Way, and in this case, for "just", it means no more than one; and for...

Excuse me.

"Only", it means exclusive.

Well, what does "exclusive" means?

"Exclusive" means it's one of a kind.


Or you're not...

If it's exclusive, nothing else can come around it.

So, if you go to an exclusive club, for instance, to go dancing, maybe only people who are wearing

polo shirts can go; it's exclusive.

If you don't have a polo shirt, you cannot go.

Because it means to exclude.


So, in this case, we have...

And the adverb for "just", it means no more than.

No more than this.

So, no more than five or no more than one.

So, when we say, for an example: "They just wanted my money.

It was no more than money."

It's not your brains, or your talent, or your good looks; it's only the money they're talking


And you might have noticed how I dropped the word "only" in that sentence.

I could do that.

I could say: "They only wanted my money."

Because in this case, they are very similar, and you can see the scale is balanced.

When we talk about "only" and we talk about exclusive, here's an example.


"Exclusive" meaning "to exclude".

"We only have two tickets left."

All the tickets are gone except these two; there are no more than that.

So, in this case, you go: "Oh, look, James, no more than".



We can use them almost in a similar fashion.

"We have only two tickets left."


It's special.

But this is...

Down here...

I'm going to put down here, sorry.

These ones are not similar.

When we're looking in this particular case where they're not similar, you cannot use

the same words in the sentences that I've provided underneath because they don't make


Let's look at the word "just".

In this case, it means exactly.


So, if I say: "This vacation is just what I need."

I cannot say: "This vacation is only what I need."

It doesn't have the same meaning.

This means exactly what I need.

All right?

Over here.

Sorry, let's finish this one off.

Another one we can say is just very recent.

"Very recent" means almost close to now.

I'll give you an example.

"I had just missed the bus."

I cannot say: "I had only missed the bus".

"Just missed the bus", here, means the time is here now, and the bus was missed maybe

two minutes before; I just missed it a short time from now.

"Only" will not work here.

And this is...

These are the two cases in which "just" differs from "only".


Let's go on to this side of the board, and I'll give you two more cases so you have four

examples, and you can start to see why 60% of the time they are similar-right?-but why

you cannot use them, you know, interchangeably, like just say: "only" all the time or "just"

all the time, because it will change the meaning of the sentence.

Now, when we talk about "only", it means one choice.


Not one choice.

When we talk about adjective for "only".

Here, I said "only" - I couldn't think of another word for it because it's one.

If only...

Can I put this?

I could just put this, here.

I couldn't think of another word, except "the one".

The one thing.


"She was the only woman to love me."

This isn't talking about exactly; it wouldn't make any sentence.

"She was the just woman to love me."

It wouldn't make any sense.

It means there's one category or one thing, and you can see "only" has "one" written in

it, so "one" is the best thing.

I couldn't even think of another word to replace "only" in here, except "only".

Just doesn't...

Doesn't work.

When we look down here, we have another adjective using for only, and it's: "The only choice.

The only choice."

So, in this one, it says "one" - the one; here, it means you have no other choices.

You might think this or that, but you can only go in one direction.


"It's the only place I like to eat" means I cannot make a choice.

Maybe I'm a vegetarian...

This is a good one.

I'm a vege-...


I'm a vegan with gluten allergies and peanut allergies, so the Sheep Restaurant or the

Sheep Grass Restaurant is the only choice for me, because everything else will kill


I had no choice; it's the only choice I can make.


So, if we look over here, as an adverb-they can both be used as adverbs-and the exclusive

is similar to no more than.


It means limitation.

And if we want to look at when they're not similar, it's rather interesting that we have,

in this case, these ones are both adverbs; and in this case they're both used as adjectives.

So that should be able to help you figure out whether or not you should use "just" and

"only", besides the definitions I've given you.


All right.

Well, you know that's never enough for me; this is only the beginning or just the beginning.


I could use these, here; same.

Let's go to the board.

We got some homework to do, a quiz, and a few more pieces of information about "just"

and "only" I want you to have.



And we're back.

Just in the nick of time.

I want to gi-...

I want to give you a couple more uses for "just", and a third one I haven't written

on the board, but I'll just say it.

I didn't mean to say that.

Okay, so just one more.

"Just" can also be used for barely, and "barely" means by a little; not by much, so a very

small amount.

The example I have here is: "I have just enough money to go."

So what does that mean?

It means I don't have much more, so let's just say I'm taking the bus, and the bus costs

one dollar, and I have $1.50.

That's not a lot of money; it's a very small amount of money.


So, you got one dollar, the bus costs...


You have a $1.50, okay?

The bus costs $1.25.

You don't have a lot of money.

You barely have enough.

25 cents difference and you cannot take the bus.


That means barely.

Next is also an adverb use: really or absolutely.

Sometimes when we say "just", we mean "really" or "absolutely".

Here's my example: "That's just stupid."

In other words: "That's really stupid.

That's absolutely stupid."

And people will say it with that tone.

All right?

"You just got here?

You really just got...?

Like, you really are here now at this time when you're late?"

That's another way we use it.

The tone will even change when we say that.

That's why I like that one: "That's just stupid.

It's absolutely stupid."

[Laughs] Sorry.

Now that I've done those two for you and I've had a bit of a laugh for myself, let's go

back to the board because we have four questions that are begging to be answered.

And I'll be honest, there's one trick question in there, so you have to be very careful when

you answer it.

Are you ready?

First question is...

Or the first statement we have is: "It was the just/only choice she could make."

What would you say?

"It was the _______ choice she could make."


Correct. "only".

"That's the only choice you could make; you had no other options.

Or the options that were given to you were not very good ones, so that's the only choice

you could make."

How about this one?

And look at the position it's in.

Remember we talked about looking at adverb or adjective?

"It was the only choice".

There's an adjective use, and you go: "Oh, yeah, it's the one that we had at the bottom,

here - it said: 'Only one choice to make', and an adjective" - there you go.

Let's look at the next one: "That glass of water was just/only what I


Yes, "just what I needed".

In this case, "just" means exactly.

Do you remember we talked about adverb and exactly?

And here's our verb, and it's modifying the verb, so it's adverb, was just what I needed.

And what did we say over here?

Adverb use.


And change that word to "exactly", and it works, and that's how we remember that one.

What about number three?

"You are the just/only person allowed here."


Now, is this an adverb or an adjective?

If you look carefully, it's an adjective: "only person", and it's a specific person.

"The only person allowed", and because it's exclusive...

Remember we talked about something being exclusive?

So: "You are the only person allowed in here."


Now, let's do the last one.

This one's a bit tricky, because depending on what you're looking at...

Well, why don't you figure out?

I'm going to let you look at it and tell me what the answer could be.

"There are just/only five tickets available."

Yes, you're right, I wasn't being too nice.

It could be either one.

"There are only five tickets available" or "just five tickets available".

If we say: "There are just", we're looking at an adverb modifying this word.

And if we say "only", it's going with the five; it's going with this word.

Either word can be used in this sentence, and this is when we say that "only" and "just"

are very similar in many situations.

And now you can see why; it depends what's being modified in the sentence.

And that was a tough one because it could go either way, but I also know you are smart

and you paid attention to what I said earlier on, so you would know that both cases are


Anyway, you've done a really good job, and I would like to make sure we really get this

deep inside so you don't make the mistake that native speakers, actually, we don't ever


And when I thought about this particular lesson, I thought: I've never really thought about

it because I just know it, but then I hear students make a mistake and I understand why.

It can be difficult because people don't give you the exact...

The smaller reasons as to why; they give you the one big, similar one and you think it

should fit everywhere.

But you know differently, and I'm glad about that.

But I'd like you to do some homework, as per usual.

I want you to make up a paragraph using "only" and "just" twice each, so a paragraph can

have five or six sentences, and then I want you to use "only" for...

You know, so I can make exclusive or no more than when we're talking about "just".

You know, use them and see how you can play with the sentences to deepen your understanding

of the two words, whether they're adjectives or adverbs.


Well, listen, glad you stuck it out with me this long.

I want you to go to www.eng as in English, vid as in ( because

there's a quiz waiting with your name on it.

And when you do the homework, put it up on either the website at engVid, or you can put

it on YouTube because what will happen is-I guarantee you, because I've seen it-people


And then that response, it's a great way to further your English because you can work

with other people from all over the world to improve your English, as well as check

out and see if you got it right or not.

That's a good thing.

Anyway, I've got to go.

I'm looking around and I can't see, because I never can; they change this thing.

There's going to be a "Subscribe" button, press it, and then you're going to see a little

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And if you like this shirt.

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Thanks, Francisco.


Hit the bell, and you'll notice my latest and greatest, or latest and best, or whatever

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And, as always, thank you and thank you for sharing with your friends, and I look forward

to seeing you the next time have a good one.

It's only make believe.


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