Can someone help me understand more precisely the connotative differences between "just might" and "might just

I came upon this dilemma while working on a short comic strip. In the first panel, a person is attempting an unorthodox approach to a problem, saying:

It might just work.

The second panel, moments later:

It didn't work.

I'm unsure if the effect would be significantly altered if the words were swapped.

5 Answers 5


"might just work" sounds like "it might simply work--that is, without the complications one might predict."

"just might work" has a blossoming optimism. It suggests that something that you'd think wouldn't work actually has a decent shot at working.

  • Macmillan: We might just get there in time if we hurry. ( this seems to show the exact opposite)
    – Daniel
    Oct 1, 2018 at 14:01
  • Could it be that the first one also contains a notion of surprise? That, if you say your example, you just realized that it (simply) works, and that this fact is surprising to you? So that, if someone commands: do xy, to communicate that you don't actually take commands, but will do xy anyway, on your own accord, answer I might just do that. ?
    – Nearoo
    Feb 24, 2020 at 8:34

"It might just work" more sounds like positive and pragmatic Eg: You are working on a research and you finally say " It might just work" seems like you are hopeful & have some sort of surety

"It just might work" sound more as a natural occurrence & skeptic. Eg: You are stuck with your car left not working you say "it might just work" a little less hopeful plus relying on luck to work it out for you.


I think It might just work could also suggest the meaning "It might work, but barely". With the annotation that the purpose will probably be fulfilled, but only that and nothing more.

  • 1
    I think "it might just work" could also suggest the meaning "It might work, but barely"... but only that and nothing more. In general, they are interchangeable. For example, I just wrote an email to my favorite baseball-themed podcast, which is coming to an end soon, thanking them for a great season. I also told them "I might just listen to [your] football podcast" despite not really following football. I could just have easily gone with "I just might listen". They feel the same to me. I think those that are trying to separate them are just expressing how the phrases feel to them.
    – Tim Wilson
    Sep 9, 2013 at 6:41

Sorry, but it's much simpler than all that. To illustrate, I'll address (A) "We might just make it" versus (B) "We just might make it" (for instance, to our destination, given a low tank of gas).

(A) "I think we'll make it . . . but barely."

(B) "Being more optimistic than I normally am, I think there's a chance we'll get there."

A similar bugaboo is (A) "just can't" versus (B) "can't just":

"You just can't do that!" ("Doing that is categorically wrong. Unacceptable. I/we won't stand for it.")

"You can't just [ ]" (sit there; show up; vote; adjust the yaw, but not the roll and pitch.) More is required; what you've done is incomplete, lazy, half-assed.


We just might have to use both phrases in different sentences; we might just find a clearer—or better—answer.

X: I have already done everything to make my Internet connection faster.
Y: You just might have to turn off your router to fix the problem.

X: What are you doing tonight after your shift?
Y: I might just drop by my parents' house.

X: Are you attending Mia's wedding next month?
Y: I'm not sure yet. I might just go to the reception.

X: It would be more fun if you meet us at the mall, do some window-shopping, and check out the theatre.
Y: Hmmm. I'm not making promises. I just might turn up.

X: I wish I could see ghosts.
Y: Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

  • 1
    Can you explain the difference more clearly? If the asker is confused about the use, more examples without explanation probably won't help.
    – Nicole
    Apr 19, 2015 at 0:27
  • In my sample sentences, "might just" suggests considering a deed from a list of options (I might just show up at the mall, but I probably won't go shopping nor see a movie), whereas "just might" implies performing an action that is deemed not likely to work but might work: the act could be a result of a stroke of luck, or it could be a possible but unknown—or not tried and tested—solution to a problem (the mere shutting off and on of the router could possibly do the trick).
    – Lance Lee
    Aug 10, 2016 at 13:21

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