Are "just" and "only" interchangeable?
Two days ago, one of my students, Julia, said something that I found a bit puzzling (and somewhat aggravating too!) I had always assumed that when it's possible to use "only" in a sentence, the adverb "just" is also (maybe not always but most of the times) a valid option. Julia told me, however, that when she was speaking to an American lady the other day, the erudite nitpicker frowned upon the use of "just" in a certain sentence. The sentence was something like, "This class is just on Thursday", which sounds fine to me, especially considering my student's amiable attempt to establish a modicum of communication with the American lady, who can't say a word in Portuguese, let alone string a sentence together. The lady rephrased Julia's utterance, emphasizing the necessary change: "Oh, you mean, the class is ONLY on Thursday". As I listened to Julia with interest, the first thing that crossed my befuddled mind was "...hmm..."
.. Hmm indeed! Okay, maybe "just" is the wrong choice after all, but hey lady, and I would add, as we say in Portuguese, "pÃ´, na boa" – literally, "*gee, in the good* ", which roughly means, "excuse me, what I'm about to say is by no means intended to offend you, simply to call your attention, in a good-tempered spirit, but I really have to say it, if only to get if off my chest!") - how dare you speak to Ju like that? Ju is such a nice, and mind you, super clever girl. As a matter of fact, even if she were a complete simpleton, you still shouldn't be so hoity-toity; no one deserves to be treated scornfully! Appearances can be rather deceptive, you know; we all have so much to learn from one another! I'm sure that your great scholarliness notwithstanding, in umpteen ways you're no match for savvy, resourceful Ju! (" Ufa ", I feel better now; in Portuguese, "ufa" functions like a short onomatopoeic word to indicate a sigh of relief; by the way, what is the English equivalent? Does anyone know where on the web I can find a good list of onomatopoeic words in English?)
Well, to cut a long story short, my question is: Is it ever possible in a sentence that has the adverb "only", for it to be replaced with "just"?
SÃ£o Paulo, Brazil