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I'm not a native speaker. A customer asked me whether a product would work for her, and I answered that it would work just fine. I was trying to say that the product would work perfectly well for her, but now I'm not sure if that was the meaning conveyed by that sentence. As far as I understand, just fine adds emphasis, is that correct? But I've found some dictionary and forum entries stating that the opposite was true.

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  • You conveyed what you intended to convey. You handled the situation just fine. :) Jul 15 '21 at 2:59
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It is indeed just fine.

Unless one is trying to be sarcastic this tells them that all will be well, or as perfect as can be expected. It does not mean adequate or barely sufficient.

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As a native American English speaker, I think of the idiomatic adverb phrases just fine and perfectly well as near synonyms — both of which mean something like adequately or satisfactorily:

Why use a big word when a small one works just fine?
Why use a big word when a small one works perfectly well?
Why use a big word when a small one works adequately?
Why use a big word when a small one works satisfactorily?

These don't necessarily indicate that there is a shortage of excellence — only that attempts to exceed basic functionality are wasted.

I think what you might have wanted to say was:

This product will work perfectly for you.

But what you said works just fine; it conveys a sense like this:

You could buy that product for $100, or this product that does the exact same thing for half the cost.

Notes:
Just is used in its adverb sense of quite.
Perfectly is used in its sense of quite.
Fine is used in its adverb sense of all right.
Well is used in its adverb sense of satisfactorily.

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When I hear or read the words "adequately" or "satisfactorily" or "just fine," I hear that there is room for improvement. And somehow, while "perfectly" fills the bill, "perfectly well" does not. The rule about using a big word is fine for good writing, but not perfect for indicting perfection.

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