The English word "just" could mean "now" or "finally," for example:

I just finished my homework.

Does it mean "I finished my homework now" or "I finally finished my homework"?

How do I use the two meanings differently?

  • Just has many shades of meaning and usages, but they all carry the meaning of exactness or near exactness. So if you just finished your homework, then the time of finishing is only a little bit ago from now. Finally implies that your homework was a long chore. But you could have just finished an easy assignment.
    – deadrat
    Dec 15 '15 at 4:38

The adverb finally mainly has two meanings:

After a long time, typically when there has been difficulty or delay

As the last in a series of related events or items

It is not synonymous with just which means:

Very recently; in the immediate past

If there is the right context, just could be interpreted as finally, but their meanings are different and they are not interchangeable.

[Oxford Online Dictionary]

  • 1
    I just finished my homework. may have two "sub-meanings", (1) as per above, in the very recent past, and also (2) with no time to spare - right on a deadline. So: "I just finished my homework before the final due date.", or more commonly "I just caught the bus." (ie, I nearly missed it, rather than I caught it very recently).
    – Cargill
    Dec 15 '15 at 6:21
  • 1
    @Cargill Yes, you are right. It will all depend on context.
    – user140086
    Dec 15 '15 at 6:35

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