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This is from an interview with a celebrity where she is asked many questions in a short period of time. At some point, in between two questions, the reporter says to her:

"You were valedictorian of your class. That wasn't a question. I just think that is great."

The beginning of the last sentence "I just think ...." drew my attention. I wondered why he simply did not say "I think...." but "I just think .....".

So, I focused on what the difference would be between "I think ...." VS "I just think.....",

I think he added "just" because he remembered that fact(being valedictorian) a little while ago, so he added "just" to mean a short while ago, as in "I have just finished my lunch."

But then I also think he might have said it for something else, like maybe to refer to his astonishment, or her being so humble about it, etc.

I am not quite sure which one.

So, I wanted to ask, what difference does it make when one says "I just think that is great." instead of "I think that is great."?

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    "Just" here means "merely"
    – gotube
    Jul 20, 2023 at 21:42

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I believe that there are two possibilities here. The first (which I consider more likely) is that the interviewer means "only". In the previous sentence, the interviewer said "that wasn't a question", so he or she is suggesting that in the current sentence "only" means what it says and doesn't have any other purpose (such as asking a question). Merriam-Webster has the following definition:

3a: ONLY, SIMPLY
| just last year
| just be yourself

The interviewer might also be using "just" for emphasis, in which case it would be similar to "really". The Collins Dictionary says:

You use just to emphasize the following word or phrase, in order to express feelings such as annoyance, admiration, or certainty.
[emphasis]
She just won't relax.
I knew you'd be here. I just knew.
Isn't it fantastic? Just look at that!
Just think, we should be home this time tomorrow.
I don't see the point in it really. It's just stupid.
Isn't he just the most beautiful thing you ever saw?

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Adding "just" might make the statement more tentative, or might indicate mild disagreement, but it depends on context.

Q: "Don't you realize he's wrong?" A: "I just think there's another way to view it."

Q: "Want to go on a picnic?" A: "I just think it might rain."
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  • What you say is correct, but probably not relevant to the sentence in the question.
    – JavaLatte
    Jul 21, 2023 at 4:21

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