I have seen this question:

‘I have just been speaking to him.’ In this sentence just is used

A to describe an unfinished action.

B to highlight when the action was done.

C to show a repeated action.

Edit: So what is the correct answer? I am guessing A or B.

However, I am feeling that it indicates something else like I have been speaking to only one person. So what if I want to highlight this point as well?

1 Answer 1


Depending on the context for the sentence, there are at least three possibilities.

First possibility:

You are very close with (A) and (B). The exact meaning for "just" is to emphasize that the action happened in the very recent past. Another example with more context would be:

  1. A man arrives at a party.
  2. One minute later, someone asks him, "Is John here?"
  3. The man answers, "I don't know, I just arrived."

Second possibility:

You noted,

I am feeling that it indicates something else like I have been speaking to only one person.

This could also be correct. If the person meant this, there would probably be an emphasis on the last word:

"I have just been speaking to him." (perhaps pointing as well, for more emphasis)

But only seeing the words in print, and not hearing inflection or seeing a gesture, it's hard to be certain.

Third possibility:

"Just" could also be a way to emphasize that the person was speaking, but took no other action. This is why more context is needed to be certain. For example,

"This man claims you made a threatening move against him."

"No, that's not true. I have just been speaking to him."

  • 1
    Great answer. I’d add that possibility #2 can also be written “I’ve been speaking to just him”; where possibility #1 and #3 cannot. May 30, 2019 at 3:32
  • Thank you for your answer, depending on it I can infer that the best answer is B in the question. Is that right? May 31, 2019 at 11:38
  • @GamalThomas, yes, if a choice must be made of "just" those three :) then I think the most likely is (B).
    – JDM-GBG
    Jun 6, 2019 at 1:19

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