Expression: "Just older"

Hi all,

When I write:

Tony is just older than Mary. (just = exactly).

Please tell me why most of people say that this sentence should be written:

a.Tony is just a little older than I.


b. Tony is slight older than I.

My initial sentence is not correct in grammar?


Hi, I’m not a teacher but I can try explaining this.

The word “just” normally means “only”, and it’s not a very formal way of saying “only”. When you write, you want to use “only” instead of “just”, but when you talk, it is ok to use either one.

If you write Tony is “exactly” older than Mary, it won’t make much sense to people because you can’t communicate the meaning of “exact” if the statement itself is vague. If you want to make it more precise, perhaps you can say “Tony is exactly one year older than Mary”, or “Tony is exactly 2 months older than Mary.”

Hi Van Khanh,

You wrote:

You would use the adverb slightly (a little bit) in (b)

Just in your sentence has the sense of only and it can’t really qualify older. That is why you have to indicate by how much older Tony is as in: Tony is just (only) six months older


I like your explanation, Cooliegirly :smiley:
Hi Khahn
In addition to what Alan has now also written:

Don’t forget that the word just has more than one meaning and usage. You could say “just enough” or “just right” and in those cases the word just would mean “exactly” or “precisely”.

No. it isn’t. What does “exactly older” mean? The word older indicates a difference, not sameness.

If you want to say that the ages are identical, then you could possibly say:

Tony is just (exactly) the same age as Mary.
Tony is just as old as Mary.

In the following two sentences, the ages are not the same, but the difference is small:

a.Tony is just a little older than I am.
b. Tony is slightly older than I am.


Hi Van Khanh,

Without wishing to overload you with information, I could also add yet another use of just and that is simply or nothing but as in:

Your cooking is just (simply) perfect.

You are talking just (simply) nonsense