Kevin: Where are you Mary? Mary: I'm home. My car just won’t start.

Kevin: Where are you Mary? Mary: I'm home. My car just doesn't start.

I would also be very grateful if you help me figuring out what the word"just" here really means. I have my doubts whether it is just used to put emphasis on this statement.

  • 1
    As you suggest, just here is an "intensifier" - akin to, say, simply. Won't (and the credible, but less likely can't) is just an "anthropomorphising" figurative usage, that assigns "human" qualities (such as willpower, unwillingness) to the car. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 18:50

2 Answers 2


There doen't seem to be any semantic difference between these sentences. "My car just won't start" means my car just does not work. Speaking in this context, "won't" is usually used when we refer to an inanimate thing that we handle (Cambridge Dictionary). Another example is "the door won't open". In the sentences, both the car and the door are inanimate things started and opened by humans. As for "just", it may be used to put emphasis on the statement or to mean now, at this time. In addition, the first sentence sounds natural, especially in spoken English.


'My car just doesn't start' means that generally this car doesn't start (it's kind of common)

'My car just won't start' means that the car is displaying stubbornness. (unwillingness)

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