Just Don't use Just

Just is a great word, when used as a legal term to mean ‘fair and just’.

Just is not a great word when used to me ‘only’ or something else other than a legal term. Yes, you can probably show instances where it’s been used incorrectly, but just because you can show me it was used incorrectly by someone else, doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to use it incorrectly in your descriptive text.


Just don’t tell anyone.

I just want one serving.

I want just one serving.

I just haven’t had time.

These are all wrong!

Now, remember, in fiction writing, dialogue doesn’t have the same rules that the descriptive text does and it’s all right to use slang and colloquialisms in dialogue. In fact, it’s absolutely necessary in order to make the dialogue feel realistic and the characters to be properly, well, characterized. That said, sometimes in dialogue using ‘just’ incorrectly for a character’s speaking is acceptable, but try to limit it.

As for descriptive text, don’t use ‘just’ for anything except the ‘legal term’ meaning.

I know you’re going to run off to dictionary.com and look it up and see that the adverbial form of the word ‘just’ means:


9. within a brief preceding time; but a moment before: The sun just came out.
10. exactly or precisely: This is just what I mean.
11. by a narrow margin; barely: The arrow just missed the mark.
12. only or merely: He was just a clerk until he became ambitious.
13. actually; really; positively: The weather is just glorious.

And this would be correct. However, let me ask you if using this word in this manner is the strongest way to write?

If you mean ‘exactly or precisely’, isn’t using the words ‘exactly’ or ‘precisely’ much stronger write?

The point is not to say that ‘just’ is a bad word and to avoid it completely, but in your fiction writing, save it for dialogue and use more precise terms to draw the word pictures.

Just don’t use just!

Keep writing!

Love and stuff,