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  1. #11
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: what's the meaning of "just about"?

    In three years on this site, this is the most surprising difference in use of English I have discovered.

    I can entirely see how "it just about killed me" would be a negative but mainly because it's so unlikely that it actually would kill you and, if it had, you wouldn't be around to utter those words!

    However, with "real" situations and descriptions, I can't think of a single instance in which it's a negative.

    He's just about tall enough to reach the top of the cupboard = He can get his fingertips on top of the cupboard by stretching to his fullest possible extent.

    I have just about enough rice to make a risotto = I need 300g of rice and I have 301g. Phew! I don't have to go shopping for rice. (We would also say, of course, "I have just enough rice ..." to mean the same thing.)

  2. #12
    BobSmith is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: what's the meaning of "just about"?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    I have just about enough rice to make a risotto = I need 300g of rice and I have 301g. Phew! I don't have to go shopping for rice. (We would also say, of course, "I have just enough rice ..." to mean the same thing.)
    I hear this as you are happy with having just under the requisite amount

  3. #13
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: what's the meaning of "just about"?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobSmith View Post
    I hear this as you are happy with having just under the requisite amount
    This will take some getting used to. I re-read my sentence and realised that I could probably have had 299g, 300g or 301g and still said "just about enough". However, if I only had 299g, I would probably say "Damn, I haven't got quite enough rice for the risotto recipe but it'll probably be enough".

  4. #14
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: what's the meaning of "just about"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I find it weird that you British would use it to mean the opposite.
    For me, if something is just about wide enough, it could be almost wide enough or a struggle but manageable.

  5. #15
    BobSmith is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: what's the meaning of "just about"?

    Was thinking more about this.. it could mean "just over the amount needed" in this context:

    I've had just about enough of you. (But even then, it still could mean "watch out, you're about to cross the line")

    But, to my ears, there is a clear distinction here:

    We have just enough people to get started, so now we can begin.

    We have just about enough people to get started, so let's wait another minute, then we'll begin.

  6. #16
    magimagicE is offline Member
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    Default Re: what's the meaning of "just about"?

    Quote Originally Posted by moonlike View Post
    Hi

    This sentence was about a bench "the bench was just about wide enough". Does it mean almost?
    Thanks a lot in advance
    It means that the bench was wide enough, but that the speaker/author wanted to emphasize the narrowness of the margin by which it was.

    It's a way of introducing a little uncertainty into an otherwise boring definite outcome of whether it was or it wasn't wide enough. The little uncertainties can sometimes be more interesting...

    Phrases like "just about", "nearly" and "almost" also have this peculiar aspect of triggering a mental picture in your mind's eye.

    OP, did you not imagine yourself holding one hand up to your face with thumb and forefinger about an inch apart as you read the segment, "the bench was just about wide enough"?

  7. #17
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: what's the meaning of "just about"?

    Quote Originally Posted by magimagicE View Post
    It means that the bench was wide enough, but that the speaker/author wanted to emphasize the narrowness of the margin by which it was.
    Yes, but have you read the thread? It means that in BrE, but not in AusE or AmE (apparently).

  8. #18
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: what's the meaning of "just about"?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobSmith View Post
    I've had just about enough of you. (But even then, it still could mean "watch out, you're about to cross the line")
    Yes, it's a warning, meaning "almost enough to make me strangle you". But apparently in BrE, you'd have to be strangling someone already to say this, because there it means you've already had enough.

    PS: I also agree with ems that it's one of the most surprising differences I've come across here too. I would not have guessed it.

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