4

I understand that phrase:

"I have just bought a house".

is correct.

But I also saw, that sometimes people could say:

"I just bought a house."

Is it correct?

  • The presence or absence of the word just has no bearing on whether or not you include have. This question is purely about simple past vs past perfect. The word just is irrelevant. – FumbleFingers Oct 12 '14 at 19:56
  • 1
    From Google Ngrams, this advice (I assume from ESL classes) appears to be 100 years out of date, both for the U.S. and the U.K. – Peter Shor Oct 12 '14 at 20:14
  • 1
    We see this question a lot, as it appears this rule is taught in ESL classes. Looking at 19th century Google books hits for "I just saw", the majority of them seem to mean "I only saw". So back then, my guess is that if you used "just" (and you weren't speaking some non-standard dialect), you automatically switched the verb to present perfect. This is not the case today. So this advice does seem to be based in fact, just obsolete fact. – Peter Shor Oct 12 '14 at 20:17
  • 1
    I just saw the future, but I prefer the past. Actually, I'd use the past simple after 'just' only in informal registers. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 12 '14 at 21:38
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    I see no Close votes yet, so perhaps I have time for an answer. – John Lawler Oct 12 '14 at 22:43
6

The use of temporal just with a Perfect construction evokes the Hot News! sense of the Perfect.

This sense is almost always used for recent events of great importance. Generally the Past is OK, too.

  • Botswana has just invaded Uruguay.
  • Botswana invaded Uruguay this morning.

In the case of the original examples, the event is certainly important enough

  • I've just bought a house.
  • I just bought a house.

but there is no real difference in meaning or use, no grammatical or semantic distinction, between the two. Although certain sentences sound odd with one or the other form, because of irrelevant restrictions on individual constructions.

Different speakers with different habits and experience will probably see potential distinctions to make, but nobody will see or make the same ones. When either choice is OK, a speaker chooses the one that sounds best to them, for whatever reasons they may have.

5

In my idiolect, as for many speakers of British English, the simple past is incompatible with temporal just: I would say I have just sold a house but not I just sold a house.

For many (?most) speakers of American English, and increasingly in Britain as well, I just sold a house is grammatical.

As others have said, there is another meaning of just ("only", "merely") which is compatible with either tense.

[I changed "bought" to "sold" because I have, in fact, just sold a house].

  • Indeed one could safely say 'for (all) speakers of American English, I just sold a house is grammatical'. – Alan Carmack Apr 25 '16 at 14:26

protected by tchrist Jan 20 '17 at 17:47

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