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In the sentence, "Close your eyes, for just a moment..." which is more correct:

"For just a moment;"

"Just for a moment?"

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"Correctness" (whatever that means) is not at issue here. At issue is which part of the sentence you as the writer want the reader to focus on. It’s your choice, and it means something slightly different each time.

Just is a kind of word that we call a focusing adverb, much like only, merely, or simply. Its position tells the reader or listener what they should be paying more attention to. As such, the position of a focusing adverb is free to float to almost any position in the sentence.

  • Just I have eyes for you.
  • I just have eyes for you.
  • I have just eyes for you.
  • I have eyes just for you.
  • I have eyes for just you.

Wiktionary has an entire category for these.

  • I feel like none of those examples are the same as here. In the examples, the position of "just" changes the content of the sentence, in the following order: 1) only I have eyes for you; 2) all I have is eyes for you; 3) all I can offer you is eyes; 4) the purpose for my eyes is for you; 5) all I see with me eyes is you. By the "just for a moment," the meaning of the sentence doesn't change with the positioning of the sentence. The only difference I can see is which is more "correct." Meaning, since the meaning is that you're only closing your eyes for a moment, which one conveys that better? – Eli Dec 14 '17 at 15:12
  • Interesting example. Of course, the word ‘just’ isn’t just an adverb and, even when it is, it doesn’t just mean ‘only’. Mummy bear’s porridge was “just (i.e. exactly) right”! – Tuffy Dec 14 '17 at 15:19
  • @Eli Notice you've yourself just again used a focusing adverb by saying "you're only closing your eyes for a moment". Why didn't you instead say "you're closing your eyes only for a moment" or "you're closing your eyes for only a moment" or "you're closing your eyes for a moment only"? Couldn't you have? Wouldn't those have also been "correct"? – tchrist Dec 14 '17 at 15:31
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    @tchrist, that's a good point. They're all correct, but I think "you're closing your eyes for only a moment," is probably the best one, because it puts the focusing adverb as close as possible to the thing it's focusing on--"moment." And, having noticed that, I realized that the position of the "just" works the same way. "Close your eyes, just..." is a focusing adverb used to reflect backwatds on the close your eyes, saying, "close your eyes--but just for a moment!" while "for just," is focused on the moment, saying, "close your eyes, for only a moment." So thank you. I think I have my answer – Eli Dec 14 '17 at 15:40
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You are interested in the following sentence fragment:

  • Close your eyes, [for just / just for] a moment ..."

Without the comma, both are 'correct' and mean pretty much the same thing. If pressed, one might quibble about "for just a moment" focusing on the shortness of the duration and "just for a moment" focusing on the existence of the short duration.

With the comma (as written), I think the sentence completes more easily with "for just ...", with "for" meaning "because":

  • Close your eyes, for (because) just a moment later they will be fine.

The comma looks out of place with the "just for" variant. It disconnects the eye-closing and the duration, but it doesn't look like it disconnects them sufficiently. Starting the next clause with "just for" suggests that it would be an independent clause, e.g. "Just for a moment there, I thought the laser would turn on." In that case, the comma should really be something stronger, a full stop or semicolon, perhaps:

  • Close your eyes! Just for a moment there, I thought the laser would turn on.
  • Hi Lawrence, I only submitted part of the sentence, which is what I think caused the confusion here. The full sentence reads, "Close your eyes, for just a moment, and picture the following scene." So the "for" here is used in the sense of "for a period of time," not in the sense of, "because." – Eli Dec 14 '17 at 19:04

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