I have heard the following expressions used to express a demand for something or a desire for someone to do something immediately. Next to each one is my interpretation of the nuanced meaning behind the phrase.

  • Tell me already: I don’t want to you to tease me any longer.
  • Tell me at once: I’ve become really annoyed by the delay.
  • Tell me immediately: stress the urgency of the issue.
  • Just do it already: don’t play around any longer.
  • Just do it at once: “the word just obscures the meaning of at once, so it means virtually the same: don’t play around any longer.”
  • Just do it immediately: “the same as above.”

I want to know whether I'm correct about these nuances? And are there other natural expressions used for the same thing in daily speech?

  • Your examples are not natural speaking but peremptory. Your demands come across as an important big cheese, and there are no nuances in your statements. "Are there other expressions natural in daily speaking?" Yes - "I really need your help with this ..." Oct 5, 2018 at 23:56

1 Answer 1


You have understood some of the subtler meanings that can be expressed in the demands that you've listed. But be careful, because those demands don't always have the meanings you've described. You still have to pay attention to the context and the tone of the expressions in order to understand the finer shades of unspoken meaning that the speaker is expressing.

'Obscure' is not quite the right description of what the word 'just' does in the last two cases to the meaning of 'at once', or 'immediately'. The word 'just' implies that this is not the first time you've made the demand. So you're right that 'just' can add the meaning, 'don't play around any longer'. However, these are not playful phrases, so they would be used very rarely with 'just'. To obscure something means to conceal or hide it.

These two are identical in their literal meaning:

Tell me at once.
Tell me immediately.

and either one can express both of the nuances you've ascribed to them. If used by themselves the listener will almost certainly feel talked down to, as if you considered them inferior or childish. Instead, I would suggest

I need to know at once.
I need to know immediately.


Please tell me at once.
Please tell me immediately.

I don't know how long you've been speaking English. I think you're making good progress in understanding subtle, unspoken meanings. But keep observing because you will discover ever more subtle knowledge about the use of those expressions the more you listen.

Also, be careful when using demands like these. As Weather Vane has commented, people will generally not appreciate being spoken to with that kind of language. You're much better off using the 'nuances' themselves, or adding polite phrases like, 'Could you please...'. Your tone of voice will make a big difference in how you're understood. A demand can usually be made playfully without negative consequences, but when speaking seriously or with someone you don't know well it can easily be taken negatively and met with hostility.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .