For many months, I've wrestled with whether or not to resume A Spoonful of Grammar. But I woke up this morning and decided to JUST DO IT! I hope my faithful readers have been saving up lots of grammar and punctuation questions for me!!
It's A-OK when we tell ourselves to JUST DO IT (cue up the Nike ad for inspiration). But telling others is akin to saying, "My patience is wearing thin. Do it before I blow my top!" If you want to instigate verbal sparring between real people or fictional characters, go ahead and use this phrase.
Now let's discuss just plain JUST.
JUST has a way of sneaking into written and oral sentences. "Just remember to sign your name" is an example where JUST can easily be removed without changing the sentence's meaning. Isn't "Remember to sign your name" more direct?
When is JUST appropriate to use? When something was recently completed or a person or character wants to say they'll be ready soon. Here are two examples:
I just finished waxing the floor. Don't step on it yet!
Just a minute! I'll be downstairs in two shakes of a lamb's tail. (Believe it or not, my mom occasionally used that expression!)
Now for two examples where JUST could easily be dropped:
Do you just want to mull it over before making a final decision?
Will you just quiet down?
Here's my advice to writers everywhere: do a JUST check of your writing, whether it's a story, a paper for school, a speech, or a business presentation. Don't be afraid to give JUST a swift kick if it sneaks in where it doesn't belong.
I hope you enjoyed this spoonful! If you know anyone who would enjoy this or any of my earlier spoonfuls, please feel free to share!
Laura F. Cooper