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Suppose that there was an test, each of the students were given a percentage, maybe 100, maybe 85, maybe 61, maybe 60, maybe 59, grade that is equal or greater than 60 would be marked as passed.

When Tom say:"I barely passed the test." I understand he got 60, or more.

When Tom say:"I just passed the test." Does that mean the same thing? If he said that sadly, is it reasonable to conclude that he got a grade less than 60?

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  • If you only just do something, you succeed by a very small margin. This is almost a duplicate of your last question. Feb 20, 2020 at 9:41

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“Just” is by far the more ambiguous word.

It could refer to the passing grade, then meaning:

I just passed, [but barely so].

It could also have a temporary meaning:

I just left the exam room and passed.
- In the specific situation: ...but am not content with the grade,hence the sad facial expression. - Without facial clues: No information about the speaker’s results or grades are implied.

I would not understand “just passed” as “failed”, though. That would contradict “passed”. If the speaker said “I just took the test”, the usage is clearly temporal, but doesn’t necessarily imply they passed.

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