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Just / Recently

Relating the past to the present time frame

Present State of Mind

A distant memory vs. still in mind


A distant memory — The event no longer affects the speaker's present thoughts. The speaker has moved on. The adverb, if one is used, indicates a specific time.

Jason finished his project this morning.  Afterwards, he played soccer.

Jason finished his thesis.  Later, he began to gather his research.

Jason finished his studies this month.  He did very well.

Jason graduated this year. Then he traveled for a month.

Jason used to call every week. Then he stopped calling last week.


Still in mind — the event still affects the speaker's present thoughts.  The speaker is still "in the moment." The adverb indicates an indefinite time, relative to "now" or sometime within a time period.

Jason has just finished his project. He's so happy about it. (relative to his "now")

Jason has recently finished his thesis.  He's preparing to defend it. (relative to his "now")

Jason has finished studies this month. He's considering a job. (sometime within the month)

Jason has graduated this year. He's quite accomplished. (sometime within the year)

Jason hasn't called me lately. He must be busy. (relative to my "now")


lately - used in questions or negative sentences 







Just / Recently / Lately

Word order




Sentence Position — just / recently / lately


Just or recently is placed at the beginning of the sentence for emphasis.  Use a comma after the adverb.  Note that just and lately are not used in the initial position.

Just or recently is commonly placed after the auxiliary verb and before the main verb.   Note that lately is not used in the medial position.

Recently or lately is commonly placed at the end of the sentence when not emphasized. Note just is not used in the final position.

Just, we have seen Jason. incorrect

We have just seen Jason.

We have seen Jason just. (incorrect.)

Recently, we have seen Jason. 

We have recently seen Jason.

We have seen Jason recently.

Lately, we haven't seen Jason. 

We haven't lately seen Jason. incorrect

We haven't seen Jason lately.

Lately, have you seen Jason? incorrect

Have you lately seen Jason? incorrect

Have you seen Jason lately?







Present Perfect

Adverbs for Recency



Adverbs for Recent Activity


The adverbs just and recently are used to report something that happened in the past with emphasis on "a short time ago." Note that "recent" is relative — a moment ago, a month ago, a decade ago.

They got married recently.

They were just married.

They went shopping not too long ago.

They were married this month (week, year, season, semester – time that has passed)


More commonly, just and recently are used with the present perfect tense. The adverbs indicate an indefinite, relative time rather than a specific time. In these examples, a recent past activity is relative to a current or future activity.

They have gotten married recently.   is relative to   They are buying  new home.

They have just gotten married.   is relative to  They are leaving on their honeymoon tonight.

They've been shopping for furniture lately.   is relative to   Their new things are arriving this afternoon.

They have both started new jobs this month.  is relative to  They are getting used to their busy schedules.  (this week, year, season, semester) 


Also see Adverbs of Time  







Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions





Where did you go on your vacation? 
I have been to the beach this summer.

Solution - lightbulb Pop-Q "Source"  

Where did you go?  The question places emphasis on where not duration. (source)
I went to the beach this summer.  The response states location with no particular interest in time.

Where have you beenThe question places emphasis on the duration of a recent activity.
I have been relaxing on the beach. The response states a recent activity having duration.

Oh dear!  Look what he has just done

Uncommon use of present perfect.

Look what he just did!

Use the past tense for an emotional outburst.

Where have you just bought those jeans?

Uncommon use of present perfect.

Where did you just buy those jeans?

Use the past tense for reporting source.

I have seen them lately.    


I have seen them recently.   Use recently in place of lately in a statement.
you seen them lately? Use lately in a question.
I haven't seen them lately.   Use lately in a negative sentence.
The adverb lately is used in questions or negative sentences

He has arrived lately.  We had to wait for him.


He arrived late. / He was late.    late (adj.) – past the expected time, tardy 
Lately, he has been arriving late to work.    lately (adv.) – recently








Office Chit-Chat



Read for Errors

Anne:  I think it's time to go home.
Bella:  No, not quite. It's still a bit early.

Anne: But we completed all of our work.
Bella: Have you lately looked at your watch?

Anne: I have, but I don't see why we can't leave early.  I did a lot of work today. Look.
Bella: I see. However, I saw the boss coming down the hall now.

Anne: Why do you think he is coming here just now?
Bella: Perhaps, he has heard that one of his employees likes to leave early.

Anne: Are you pulling my leg? 
Bella:  Yes, I have just joked.  He left lately.

Anne: My watch say five o'clock. Let's go.
Bella: We put in our eight hours.




Complete the sentence.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
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