ONLY vs JUST: What’s the Difference between Just and Only and How to use Just and Only

In this article we are going to discuss Difference between Just and Only.

The words just and only are commonly confused in English, because it is possible to use them interchangeably. There are also some differences between these two words and situations where you can only use one of them. When looking at the words Just and Only. In situations where they can both be used, there is still a slight difference between them. Only sounds more formal, whereas Just sounds more informal and more casual.

For example:

  • I only have $50.
  • I just have $50.

Those two sentences have the exact same meaning, but I only have $50 sounds a little bit more formal than I just have $50.

  • She came to the party, but she only drank water.
  • She came to the party, but she just drank water.

Those two sentences also have the same meaning only or just formal or informal, but same meaning.

  • He was only 15 years old when he came to America.
  • He was just 15 years old when he came to America.

They both have the same meaning, only sounds more formal, and Just sounds more casual.

Now that we know the differences between Only and Just when they can be used interchangeably.

Let’s take a look at situations where we can just use Just.


There are three unique ways where we can use Just and just is not able to be replaced with the word only.


The first way is when we want to talk about something that has happened recently or just a moment ago.

For example:

  • I just got home.
    I recently arrived home.
  • He just finished his exams, so he must be exhausted.
    This means recently he finished his exams.
  • She just left for vacation a few hours ago.
  • I’m sorry, you’ve just missed her.
  • He just got off the phone with his best friend.

Barely or very close:

Another way we use Just in English, is to mean something that is barely or very close.

For example:

  • I live just north of the station.
  • I just missed the exit.
  • I’m just looking around.
  • My house is just across the station.

Simply or truthfully:

Another way we use just is to mean simply or to simply tell the truth. We usually use this when we’re being very honest, but often being honest about something that’s a little bit negative.

For example:       

  • She just doesn’t have enough talent to do this work.
  • No matter how much he studies, he just can’t remember anything.
  • I just need to get over it, but it’s so hard.

Now, let’s take a look at Only.


There is a situation where we can only use Only, and that is if we are talking about one specific unique, solitary thing.

For examples:

  • I have only one pencil.
    There are no other pencils here I have only one.
  • He was only fourteen years old.
  • Ram is an only child.
    He has no brothers or sisters.
  • He only brought one book from library.

So today you have learned the differences between only and just. If you have any question about this article you can comment below.

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