Just stop saying just

When did misusing the word ‘just’ become so popular?

Just is either an adjective (“That was a just response to the claim.”) or an adverb (“We just submitted the grant.”) But we’ve started using it as a weird, apologetic qualifier.

“I just wanted to check in and see how that report is coming along.”

Just a quick note to say we’re still interested in meeting.”

“It’s just me.”

In all of these instances, it’s being used to say, “Hey, I don’t want to bug you…” It’s a subtle apology. Sometimes subtle apologies are in order. But there’s a disproportionate use of the word just to the amount of apologizing that needs to be happening. Especially when it comes to nonprofits and their work.

“We just wanted to let you know that we tutored 827 students this year.” This sentence could have been plucked directly from many a donor communication piece. If you’re the donor, you want to hear that your money is having the impact you wanted it to have. You don’t want your attention diverted to what didn’t happen. By simply taking out the word, it changes the entire tone.

“We wanted to let you know that we tutored 827 students this year.” Heck, without the word just, I’d be tempted to throw in an exclamation point.

So, please, just stop using just. You have no reason to apologize.


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