1. You have to push this button.
  2. You have to just push this button.

What role does the word 'just' play in the sentence above?

  • Similarly, it functions as "merely" - that it's as simple as merely pushing this button. – Bzzkll Nov 29 '15 at 22:11
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Usage of "just", "only" and word-order [intended meaning] – Edwin Ashworth Nov 29 '15 at 23:26
  • Arguably each of the following sentences has a different sense from the others because of where the word just appears: "Just you have to push this button." "You just have to push this button." You have to just push this button." "You have to push just this button." – Sven Yargs Dec 1 '15 at 7:03

You have to [just push this button].

The adverb "just" is a focusing modifier here. It's modifying the verb phrase "push this button". It means that all you have to do is push this button, and do nothing else.

  • Essentially saying that 'just' is used here in the sense of 'only', which implies 'directly' and 'exactly', both of which meanings come down from the Latin root word 'justus' (the same root word for 'justice'). See: english.stackexchange.com/questions/217321 – John Mack Nov 29 '15 at 21:27
  • The word order sounds odd to me. I would say - You just have to push the button. Curiously though, when I use 'only', only can go either side of 'have' - you have only to push the button / you only have to push the button. – Dan Nov 29 '15 at 23:20
  • Arguably, the contrast is between merely pushing the button and say twisting then pushing, but the sentence would usually be understood as being synonymous with (2') You just/merely have to push this button. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 29 '15 at 23:29

just is suggesting an exact idea of how to do something.

The Oxford English Dictionary has a definition:

Exactly, precisely; verily, actually; closely

Without it, it's simply a blunt command to do something.

With it, it's proposing a specific task that will precisely accomplish what's needed.


Kill him!
Just kill him!

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