just/when

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DanyD

Senior Member
Italiano, Italy
Is it correct to say "One can feel happy just when everything is perfect" to say that one can feel happy only if everything is perfect?

Thank you!
 
  • lsp

    Senior Member
    NY
    US, English
    Yes, although you'd need to be sure that the context would help clarify the meaning for you. On its own there might be some confusion because just means only in the way you intended, but also "appena."

    Do you want two apples?
    No, just one will be enough.

    Have you been home a long time?
    No, I just arrived.
     

    shamblesuk

    Senior Member
    England, English
    The second one sounds much better.

    lsp - shouldn't it be 'I've just arrived' :)

    lsp said:
    Yes, although you'd need to be sure that the context would help clarify the meaning for you. On its own there might be some confusion because just means only in the way you intended, but also "appena."

    Do you want two apples?
    No, just one will be enough.

    Have you been home a long time?
    No, I just arrived.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    DanyD said:
    Is it correct to say "One can feel happy just when everything is perfect" to say that one can feel happy only if everything is perfect?
    Thank you!
    That is just about acceptable, but I would think it sounded strange because "just when everything is perfect" would lead me in a different direction.

    I would expect you to say "One can feel happy only when everything is perfect."

    My point about "just when everything is perfect," is that this phrase would normally mean "at the moment when everything is (at last) perfect", and would be used in a sentence such as:
    "The wheels always fall off just when everything is perfect."

    I suspect that is the distinction lsp was making (in Spanish:p :) ). In this case it is a little bit more than the confusion between two different meanings of just. There is also the tendency to assume, because it is a familiar usage, that "just when ...." is using the at the moment when sense of just, not only.

    I hope this is not too confusing.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I want to add an emphatic AE endorsement of the observations Panj made. To my ear you can't say "just when" without a sense of something "least expected" to follow.

    "One can feel happy just when everything is perfect" sounds very strange standing on its own, almost unacceptable. Just as "just as" segues to something it is just as as, "just when" implies an "and then." It's a phrase like "not only," in which case the second shoe to drop would be a "but also."

    I'd go as far as to say the sentence will not be understood, by most AE listeners, as meaning "one can feel happy only when everything is perfect." Yes, the isolated word only is identical to one sense of the word just-- but their idiomatic function is not always the same, especially in phrases like "just when." They aren't just interchangeable.

    I argued with Panj about how strictly since denotes a specific point in time, citing the phrase "since time immemorial" and others-- but I agree about "just when." It's a form of "just then," and unbreakably linked on the conceptual level.

    Incidentally, I was put off from reading this thread right away because the title made no sense-- why the virgule?
    .
     

    lsp

    Senior Member
    NY
    US, English
    shamblesuk said:
    lsp - shouldn't it be 'I've just arrived' :)
    I'd say it's optional, at least in AE. But that should provoke all the people who might disagree to explain why I'm wrong. Let's wait and see... ;)
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    lsp said:
    I'd say it's optional, at least in AE.
    I'd agree. But you're right about the people who'll disagree-- abridgment of the present perfect to the simple past is one of those things that seems to sound very wrong to some BE speakers. So wrong it's hard to accept-- like "we got beat."
    .
     

    E-J

    Senior Member
    England, English
    "I just arrived" is standard AE, isn't it? "I've just arrived" is standard BE. There's a similar phenomenon in the Spanish of Europe vs. that of Latin America - the latter tends to use the simple past where the former would prefer the present perfect.

    Incidentally, what sounds wrong to me about "We got beat" is NOT that it's the simple past - to my ears, "We got beaten" or "We were beaten" are quite acceptable. It's the use of form "beat" instead of the participle "beaten" which doesn't sound correct to me here. I realise this is off the point of DanyD's thread ... just couldn't resist commenting! :)
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    E-J said:
    It's the use of form "beat" instead of the participle "beaten" which doesn't sound correct to me here. I realise this is off the point of DanyD's thread ... just couldn't resist commenting! :)
    Exactly why I used it as an example of something that sounds bad to BE ears, and I was referring to the (slightly off-topic) beat-vs-beaten thing.

    In AE "I got beaten" means someone whaled on me with a stick. "I got beat" means the other player outpointed me, and I lost five bucks at the pool/poker table. As football and hockey prove, you can end up black and blue from an assault, or from competition, and therein lies the difference.

    We had quite a thread on this topic, a nigh traumatic experience for some, to judge by the bug-eyed blue-faced smilies. Are aghast-looking emoticons also called "smilies?" Topic for another thread, I guess.
    .
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    foxfirebrand said:
    We had quite a thread on this topic (beat/beaten), a nigh traumatic experience for some, to judge by the bug-eyed blue-faced smilies. Are aghast-looking emoticons also called "smilies?" Topic for another thread, I guess.
    My astonishment in that thread was from discovering that just when I thought I had invented an impossible combination of AE-isms you all claimed it to be entirely natural.

    Speaking of topics for another thread, may I remind you, while here, that this thread is about just/when? So far, we have had two shifts of topic with as many "apologies":)
     
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