2

If I want to refer to the time about two minuites before now, which one should I use?

  • I just know that...
  • I just knew that...

or either one? Click to view the N-gram

  • 1
    If you still know it, I just know that ... is the better choice. You can find a lot of "I just knew that ..." in books because most narration is in past tenses. – Damkerng T. May 21 '14 at 15:50
  • So you are saying that, normally, if I knew something, I forgot it in some time later, and I don't remember it now. – Santi Santichaivekin May 21 '14 at 16:02
  • 1
    @Santi: If you're referring to something you knew at some past time, but have forgotten and thus no longer know, you'd be much more likely to introduce an auxiliary verb so you can emphasise the fact of it being past tense - "I did know that, but I've forgotten". If you use the simpler form "I knew that" it tends to imply "I already knew that" (and still do), since we don't normally think of knowing things as a temporary state of affairs. – FumbleFingers May 21 '14 at 17:22
  • @SantiSantichaivekin: If you want to refer to a poitn in time in the past at which you became sure of whatever it is you're referring to, then you would say "I just knew that..." For example "When I saw the postman coming with a package, I just knew that my order had arrived." Compare "I am certain" and "I was certain". – BobRodes May 21 '14 at 19:05
5

If the intention is to convey that I now know something that I didn't know until about two minutes ago, neither of OP's suggestions are appropriate.

1: I can't say exactly what's wrong with Jack - I just know that I don't like him.
2: Jill says Jack is a convicted child molester - I just knew there was something wrong with him.
3: I just found out (or discovered, became aware, etc.) that Jack is a paedophile

In #1 and #2, just is really an "emphasising modifier" for know (akin to only, simply, merely,, etc.).
In #3, just is a "temporal qualifier", effectively meaning very recently, not long ago.


In this particular context there's nothing to be gained by comparing NGrams for present and past tense, they simply reflect the fact that the usage illustrated in #1 and #2 above can occur in respect of things believed/known both currently and previously.

  • So you suggest me to use #3 instead. Yep! that sounds beter^ ^~.PS. And is "neither of them" used as a plural? – Santi Santichaivekin May 21 '14 at 16:18
  • @Santi: If you want to learn how write pedantically, you'll probably find plenty of like-minded people willing to assert that it should always be neither is. But If you want to learn to speak like a native, ignore any supposed "rules" about this. Bear in mind that resources like NGrams overstate excessively formal written usages at the expense of casual spoken usages which occur far more often but aren't easily accesible for statistical analysis. – FumbleFingers May 21 '14 at 16:59
  • 2
    ...also note that it's "I suggest you use #3", not "I suggest you to use #3". So from your perspective, it's "So you suggest [that] I use #3 instead". – FumbleFingers May 21 '14 at 17:03

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