I am a sanguinary murderer of time, and would kill him inchmeal just now. But the snake is vital.

I'm confused because of "just now". Doesn't that mean 'a short while ago'? If so, why is there 'would'?

  • Welcome to ELU. See also English Language Learners Good Luck. – Kris Dec 28 '18 at 6:34
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    Would indicates potentiality, conditionality, wishfulness etc; just now means right at this moment. In any case, I'm flagging this as off-topic ("belongs on ELL"). Hi AMA, you may not be aware that our other site English Language Learners is the best place to look for answers on English questions that a fluent speaker would find trivial. If you have a question for ELL, be sure to read their guidance on what you can ask. :-) – Reinstate Monica Dec 28 '18 at 11:58
  • Are you asking about would or just now? It's not clear. The title of your question says one thing but the body of your question, although referring to the one, mentions both. Why do you think there would be a problem using both together? (Even if just now did mean a short while ago, why do you think that would is misplaced?) – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Dec 28 '18 at 14:58

From a letter by Charles Lamb (1775-1834). As well as "a short while ago", "just now" can also mean "at present or at this moment", which would fit the context. This useage is very common in Scottish speech.

a. very short time ago
b. at this moment
c. (South Africa informal) in a little while

Just now (Collins Dictionary)


In the above context "would" implies a hypothetical scenario. And, as typical, the usage above suggests a condition that argues against this hypothetical outcome.

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