Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

To which extent is just interchangeable with simply, as in the example?

It's becoming more than just annoying.
It's becoming more than simply annoying.

Is just synonym of simply in just any case or are there situations where the two adverbs convey slightly different meanings?

Also, Google gives 1,800,000,000 results for just and only 295,000,000 results for simply. Is one preferred over the other?

share|improve this question
1  
Re: Google, "simply", for all I know, is only a word in English, whereas "just" is a word in many languages (English, German, Swedish, Latvian...). Also, there's the given name "Just" and the family name "Just", and Google doesn't care about capitalization. –  RegDwigнt Nov 10 '10 at 15:45
2  
Also, "just" has more meanings than "simply", so it's entirely expected that it occurs more often in any given corpus. –  Marthaª Nov 10 '10 at 18:25
2  
Oh, though of another synonym you can employ: merely annoying. –  Marthaª Nov 10 '10 at 18:26
    
@RegDwight Indeed, comparing "just" vs. "simply" in Google was short-sighted. I think it should have been "just annoying" vs. "simply annoying". Anyway, thanks for your comment. –  Pavel Bastov Nov 11 '10 at 4:07
    
@Martha Ha, merely annoying -- nice synonym, thanks. –  Pavel Bastov Nov 11 '10 at 4:09
show 1 more comment

4 Answers

The second sentence sounds odd and is incorrect. "Just" and "Simply" do not have the same meaning, however, these can be interchanged in most situations; though not in this one.

share|improve this answer
    
When you say "This is just annoying", it means that it is justified to classify the object, or the act, in question as annoying. –  Prateek Mishra Nov 10 '10 at 6:02
    
When you say, "This is simply annoying", it means that you don't need to use your grey matter to know that this is annoying. It's something which is quite obvious. –  Prateek Mishra Nov 10 '10 at 6:05
2  
@Prateek - I would disagree with your interpretations. If someone says "this is just annoying" I would take that to mean that it has no other redeeming characteristic. Similarly, "this is simply annoying" would indicate that it is not complex enough to include additional values. –  Dusty Nov 10 '10 at 15:12
    
Prateek, why does "simply annoying" sound odd to you? It's not at all incorrect, and it means exactly the same thing as "just annoying": merely annoying, with no other remarkably bad characteristics. –  Marthaª Nov 10 '10 at 18:25
    
@Martha "Simply annoying" doesn't sounds odd; but "this is more than simply annoying" does. –  Prateek Mishra Nov 11 '10 at 3:05
show 1 more comment

Just and simply have some overlapping meanings, but definitely do not overlap in all meanings. In your example, it is a case where they have essentially the same meaning.

However, just (the adverb) can also mean "only now". For example:

How long have you been here? — I just got here. (=I arrived right now.)

Simply cannot be used in this instance.

(Note: I assume that we are only talking about just as an adverb; just can be used as an adjective too, meaning "right" or "fair". I don't think you are concerned about that one, because it is clearly totally different in usage.)

share|improve this answer
    
Yep, sure, in this question I only refer to just as an adverb. Thanks for the answer. –  Pavel Bastov Nov 11 '10 at 4:04
add comment

"Just" (adverbial), "merely", "only", and "simply" can mean exactly the same thing in certain contexts. However, as kiamlaluno points out, there are at least four distinct meanings of "just" used as an adverb.

In the example "just as well" provided by kiamlaluno, the meaning of "just" is "equally", but it is not being used an adverb.

Dusty misapplies one of the meanings of "simply" ("not complex enough to include additional values") which is irrelevant to the case at hand.

share|improve this answer
add comment

As adverb, just means:

  • exactly;
  • very recently;
  • barely; by little;
  • simply.

There are then cases where just can replaced with simply without to change meaning to the sentence.

As examples of usage of just the NOAD reports the following sentences:

That's just what I need.
You're a human being, just like everyone else.
Conditions were just as bad.
I've just seen the local paper.
I got here just after nine.
They were just interested in making money.

There also phrases where you need to use just, as in just about, just as well, just in case, just a minute; replace just with simply, and you get a phrase without sense.

The results obtained from Google don't mean that, as just appears more frequently than simply, just is more preferred. As the words are not synonyms, comparing them is like to compare the number of sentences containing house with the number of sentences containing moon.
With Google, then (as reported by other comments), you don't obtain results for English only, and you can obtain also results for phrases that are not grammatically correct.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.