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How to translate "just" into German

As in the following sentences :

  • I am just reading
  • I was just reading
  • I was just about to read
  • It's just a book

Thank you, and sorry for the rather short post!

May 30, 2018



As npLam wrote: just has two possible meanings in those sentences, "only" or "just now".

If you mean it in the sense of only, you can translate it with "nur" or "doch nur" if you want to emphase it. Here is how I would translate the 4 sentences:
- Ich lese (doch) nur.
- Ich habe (doch) nur gelesen.
- Ich wollte (doch) nur lesen.
- Es ist (doch) nur ein Buch.

If you mean it in the sence of just now, you can translate it with "gerade" (or "gerade eben" for a closer translation of "just now").
- Ich lese gerade.
- Ich war gerade am Lesen. / Ich war gerade dabei zu lesen. / Ich las gerade.
- Ich wollte gerade lesen.
- Es war gerade ein Buch. (Jetzt ist es ein Drache. :) )

If you mean both, you could also combine them:
- Ich lese gerade eben doch nur.


I have to admit, you've included quite a few I didn't think of... especially the last one!



I was just reading

it depends what you mean by just.... i wasn't doing anything bad, just reading.... or i was reading just a moment ago...

the last one is: Es ist nur ein Buch. For the others, i'd probably use gerade


Funnily enough, I was going to specify that difference originally, but forgot to in the end. Thank you for the explanation!


I think the word "gerade".
- Ich lese gerade [I am just reading] - Ich war gerade [I was just] lesen (doing a literal translation is not how I think a German speaker would say it though) I think it might be more like "Ich habe gerade gelesen" or I have just read) Kind of like we say "I am hungry" and they say "I have hunger". - Ich war gerade [I was just] about to read [zu lesen]

It's just a book is a different use of the word just and has a different meaning. You would use nur or einfach ....Es ist nur [einfuch] ein Buch


*einfach, aber Danke schön.


"just" (pronounced approximately like yoost, with short vowel) also exists in German, meaning "just now". However, it's a bit old-fashioned. https://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/just#just_(Deutsch)


It says the word is obsolete.

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