The Unjustness

I am on a crusade against just one word.


The word “just” is harmless, right? I just want to say that it just adds just a little extra…nothing.

It’s superfluous. Think about it: you can get by without it.

“Let me just add my opinion into the mix.”

Why not just say: “Let me add my opinion into the mix.”

We can get rid of it. Just do it.

I want Monsanto to invent a RoundupĀ® product just specifically to eradicate this word.

You might ask: Major, is this little four-letter word really worthy of a crusade?”

A crusade is a religiously-sanctioned military campaign. The allied invasion of France during World War II is often referred to as a crusade. Am I overdoing it just a little?

No. At times, sneaky people use the word in an insidious manner to imply that their point of view is the only one worth taking seriously:

Your Honor, just briefly in response — I hear this all the time in court. A lawyer will listen to another attorney’s argument and then respond with this formula. It implies: “Judge, I just listened to some real bullshit. But, there is only one essential truth here. And I can state it to you in very few words.” The lawyer then goes on for 15 minutes. [Note: the word just in the aforementioned quote is justified — in this case, it implies “I have recently completed the action of…]

Can I just say….? — Attention! The speaker is about to impart wisdom. Probably not.

Can I just cut in line in front of these 30 people to ask an inane question? — The manners-impaired interloper doesn’t have the time to wait with all these other schmucks. Besides, her question is so beneficial to humanity that everyone in line will experience total enlightenment.

Some people pray audibly in this manner: Lord, we just come before You today to ask Your blessing — This has become a format for some religious leaders. After all, the Big Man is busy. He gets a lot of calls. Adding the word just to the invocation is like a verbal bold or italic to get His attention on this all-important supplication.

And finally, the worst usage of all:

So-and-so is fat and ugly. Just sayin’This has become a modern trend. Utter or write something completely offensive or insensitive, and then add this tag afterward for humor. It’s the equivalent of “No offense.” The declarant is stating: “Hey, I’m just a messenger imparting the truth to y’all. You can’t get mad at me.”

Will my crusade with a small c gain any traction? Probably not.

But, if someone begins a sentence with just, listen or read critically.

Also, next time you have an impulse to put just in your sentence, just stop to think about whether you actually need it.

— The Major


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Gail on May 15, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Amen! (Just sayin’)


  2. My mom hated the word “hopefully”. “I hope” was correct in her day. She was dismayed when “hopefully” was adopted into the dictionary.

    Mom also noted how a commentator would ask a question of someone. The interviewee would often respond, “Absolutely!” Nothing wrong with that grammatically, but it was overused in her opinion.



  3. Posted by Unca Tony on May 16, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Good to see you today. I wish I had seen this article and I would have congratulated you on persuing a just cause. I think what bothers me is the somewhat coy suggestion that the asker (I’m just askin’) only wants to throw in his/her humble two cents. It has a whiny quality (if whining can be considered a quality).
    As for “Can I just…” Well, you know how phobic the RG’s side of your family is about the use of “Can” when we mean, “May.”
    And what about this…? When did it become mandatory to qualify a question you’ve been asked? “That’s a good question…” “Now that’s an interesting question…” “That’s the (x-dollar) question..,” etc.
    Btw, RG, my Dad (and probably yours) also hated hopefully. “Hopefully is not a word,” my Dad would say, not leaving much room for doubt. love, Unca T.



  4. Posted by Melania on May 19, 2011 at 10:59 am

    “Just” when I thought you were “like” gonna say something that means something.
    “Irregardless, it is what it is.”
    “Know what I’m sayin?”
    I could go on and on, but I’m quite sure you get the picture. Jeff and I were just discussing last night, the wastefulness of people’s words and conversations lately. I love listening to people who MAKE WORDS COUNT. Every one of them has a meaning. They are clear, concise and efficient. I try to learn from those people every day!
    Thanks for the post!


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