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From Young Sheldon Season two, episode three. Sheldon's mother, Mary, says

Stephanie Hanson's daughter was in a car accident last night. She died. Oh, no. My God. She was barely 16.

I guess "barely", "just" and "only" are interchangeable here and used to emphasize that girl was so young.

Is my understanding correct?

I can use this expression during the period of time that is after her 16-year-old birthday and before her 17-year-old birthday, right?

In other words, Suppose that girl was born at January 1, 2000. During the period of time that is after January 1, 2016 and before January 1, 2017, I can say "She was barely 16".

Is my understanding correct?

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Barely in this sense means only just. The girl would have been within a few weeks of her sixteenth birthday.

Only sixteen could be used if she was at any point in her seventeenth year.

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  • Thank you. Could you give my example of born at January 1, 2000 a simple feedback?
    – JQQ
    Jul 18 '20 at 8:38
  • If she was born on (not at) Jan. 1, 2000, she would be considered as 'barely sixteen' for the first few weeks of 2016. Is that what you were asking? Jul 18 '20 at 11:28
  • I guess I got it. Thank you. After the first few weeks of 2016, I should use "sixteen", rather than "barely sixteen", right?
    – JQQ
    Jul 18 '20 at 13:04
  • Yes, or only sixteen if you wanted to emphasise her youth. Jul 18 '20 at 15:14

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