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Happy New Year all!

I was watching Sailormoon on Youtube. The ending was sad. After that, I began to do some reading on Wikipedia about Sailormoon. When I saw the first release date of Sailormoon (it was 1992 and it is 2016 now), I suddenly started to moan that time passed so quickly. I stopped reading the Wikipedia page and visited Google for some quotes about time, and then I came across this quote of Perry Como,

Just the other day, it seems, the kids were running through the house, slamming doors, breaking glass, making noise. Time goes by so quickly. Sometimes everything seems so fleeting.

At first, I was not very sure about the meaning of Just the other day in the quote, so I looked it up in Cambridge dictionary, and it told me that the other day means a few days ago.

When I was finding some way to help me remember this quote, I came up with this question

Will it ruin the original meaning of the quote if I replace "the other day" with "a few days ago"?

Thank you.

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    "Just the other day" as used here is a set phrase used to reminisce about past events. In this case probably years ago. You might add when this was written, but I suspect it was after his kids grew up. – user3169 Jan 5 '16 at 19:35
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Usually, just the other day and a few days ago are mostly interchangeable in recounting something from the past.

However, substituting just the other day with a few days ago in your quote from Perry Como would change its meaning. This difference is determined by the additional phrase it seems.

A few days ago is countable and usually means more than 2 days(a couple) but less than 7 days(a week). Just the other day tends to be more indeterminate in time

A few days ago the kids had sandwiches for lunch. (within the last week)
Just the other day the kids had sandwiches for lunch. (possibly a month or more)

When it seems is added, the meaning changes for just the other day. It seems is added for contrast since something feels recent but in actuality is not. This construction is used for recounting an experience or memory.

It seems like a few days ago we fell in love.
It seems like just the other day we fell in love.

Just the other day can also be used as a time shorter than a few days ago (confused yet?)

It seems like just the other day we fell in love.
It seems like yesterday we fell in love.
It seems like a few days ago we fell in love.

The first two are more equivalent and mean the memory seems fresher than the third.

A choice would be to use a few days ago to recount a specific event and just the other day to recount a general recollection. Both are phrases which are heavily dependent on context.

  • Great answer @Peter. If I could up-vote more than once, I would. – G. Ann - SonarSource Team Jan 5 '16 at 20:19
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    Thanks. It seems like just the other day C was in the vanguard, now it's all Java, Ruby, Python (built on C...) – Peter Jan 5 '16 at 20:26
  • It has just hit me that "just the other day" means: recent in memory, but not necessarily in time, while "a few days ago" means recently in time. – G. Ann - SonarSource Team Jan 10 '16 at 16:37
  • I hope it did't hurt when it hit you :) – Peter Jan 10 '16 at 16:42

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