Still, Yet, Just and Already – What’s the Difference?
Level: Intermediate Reading Time: 5 minutes Category: Vocabulary
Still, yet, just and already are some very common adverbs of time in English.
They can help tell the listener about a situation in relation to the current time. Learning these words and how to use them correctly will help improve your spoken and written English!
In this lesson we are going to be looking at adverbs of time: still, yet, just and already.
We will be looking at what these words mean and how they are used. By the end of this article you will know everything you need to know to be a master of this stuff!
What are adverbs of time?
Time adverbs are words that tell the listener about when something happens in relation to now. There are some time adverbs that tell us how often things happen. There is a big list of these kinds of words and they are all used in different ways.
Today we are focussing on four similar words: still, yet, just and already. These are words that tell the listener when something happens.
If you are interested in learning about the other adverbs of times – be sure to keep checking back as I will make a lesson in the future about it.
Why are adverbs of time important?
Adverbs of time are really useful in English. They can tell the listener a lot of information in a very easy to understand way.
If you can’t use these words, you would need to make some very long and complex sentences just to say the same information. For example:
- Have you finished the homework yet?
- Have you finished the homework before we started this conversation. I am unsure, but I think you probably have.
Of course, we want to be able to communicate with confidence and using these words makes it easier to talk about time, so it is something that you should learn and start using today!
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What does still mean?
We use still when want to express that something is continuing right now.
Still is an adverb and we usually put it in the middle of the subject and the verb. Here are some examples:
- Are you still living in Sheffield?
- He still works for his Dad’s company.
- There is still loads of food left over from the party.
What does yet mean?
Yet is an adverb that basically means until now. It can also have a very similar meaning to still.
We generally only use this word with questions and negative sentences in the present perfect form.
When we use yet with negative sentences, we expect the event to happen in the future. If we use yet with a question, we are not sure if the event has happened or not.
Here are some examples:
- The tickets haven’t arrived yet.
- Have you finished your homework yet?
- Have you cancelled your Netflix subscription yet?
What does already mean?
Already is a word that means finished before now or another event in the past.
It is usually used with the past perfect or present perfect tenses.
We usually use already in positive/affirmative sentences and questions but not in negative sentences.
It can also be used to show surprise that something happened sooner than you expected.
Here are some examples:
- Have you already eaten lunch?
- Wow, it’s already 10 o’clock!
- The flight had already left by the time we arrived at the airport.
What does Just mean?
The last word on our list today is just.
Although this word has many meanings and uses in English, we are only talking about the adverb of time in this article.
This is a word that means very recently or a short time before now. It is often used with present perfect or past perfect.
Generally it is used in positive sentences and sometimes questions. Here are some examples:
- I just got home. Can you wait a minute?
- Their train just arrived at the station.
- Have you seen my passport? I just had it a second ago!
Common mistakes with adverbs of time.
Here are some common mistakes when it comes to adverbs of time:
Already is used like most other adverbs in the mid position between the subject and the main verb. Many people make a mistake by putting already between the verb and the object. Like this:
Have you made already dinner?= Have you already made dinner?
You could also say – you made dinner already?!? but this shows greater surprise.
Be careful with yet because we don’t use yet to talk about things that have already happened, or things that we know are still ongoing. Like this:
The tickets have arrived yet.= The tickets have already arrived. She is living in Spain yet. = She is still living in Spain.
Yet usually goes after the main verb, where still goes before the verb. The meaning is basically the same in both sentences – however, using still shows you are more surprised or angry about the situation.
- I haven’t finished yet = I still haven’t finished.
- It’s getting late and He isn’t home yet = It’s getting late and he still isn’t home.
- Have you decided what to do tomorrow yet? = Are you still deciding what to do tomorrow?
Just can also be used to mean in a very short time from now. We are talking about the future rather than the past and means that it the next thing we will do. Like this:
- I’m just going to the shop. Would you like me to get you something?
We sometimes use still with negative clauses to show we are not happy about the situation continuing and we are frustrated about it. Like this:
- It’s 5 o’clock and the bus still isn’t here.
- I still haven’t received a phone call from my boss about today’s meeting.
- I am still looking for my passport.
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