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Question just about the only company

hirashin

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Dear native English speakers,
I have a question about the use of "just about".

A native speaker says this phrase is very informal and should be used for casual conversation.
What do you think?

Here's a passage from our new lesson. Does this use of "just about" sound right?

A small company in Akabira, a town in Hokkaido, is attracting international attention. The company was started in 1962, and its main work was to make magnets for use in recycling. In 2006, however, it began to work on space development, too. It was just about the only company in the world to be involved in both types of work at the same time.

Thanks in advance.

Hirashin
 

mdchachi

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I don't agree. It sounds just about right for both formal and informal conversations. If you do a news search you'll see many examples. Here's a headline from today:
Here’s why the Jazz and just about every other NBA team are suddenly scoring so many points
 

johnnyG

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Your original, and mdchachi's alternative, sound perfectly normal/acceptable.
 

hirashin

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Thanks for the help, mdchachi and johnnyG.

How about these?
(a) I've just about finished my homework.
(b) Mike comes to my place just about every day.
(c) In this restaurant you can eat just about anything from all over the world.
(d) There was just about nothing in the room.
 

mdchachi

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Thanks for the help, mdchachi and johnnyG.

How about these?
(a) I've just about finished my homework.
(b) Mike comes to my place just about every day.
(c) In this restaurant you can eat just about anything from all over the world.
(d) There was just about nothing in the room.
(a) (b) (c) sound fine.
(d) doesn't sound natural to me. I'm not sure if it's "wrong" or not.
 

Michael2

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I don't think (d) makes sense because you can't have "about nothing". You either have something, however small, or nothing, like you could say "I have about 1000yen on me", but not, "I have about 0 yen on me". You can have "almost nothing" because that's the progression towards "nothing", being close to it.
 

hirashin

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Thanks for the help, mdchachi and Michael2.
 

joadbres

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Here's a passage from our new lesson. Does this use of "just about" sound right?

A small company in Akabira, a town in Hokkaido, is attracting international attention. The company was started in 1962, and its main work was to make magnets for use in recycling. In 2006, however, it began to work on space development, too. It was just about the only company in the world to be involved in both types of work at the same time.
To me, the issue is not that "just about" sounds too informal, but that it sounds awkward when used with things that are countable, especially when using precise numbers.

Your "just about finished with my homework" example sounds perfectly natural to me, but the textbook example does not sound natural at all. If I had been asked to edit the textbook content before publishing, knowing that students would be using it to learn English, I would certainly have altered this passage. "It was one of the only companies in the world to be involved in both types of work..." sounds much more natural to me.

Is this the same textbook we previously identified as having passages with less than optimal English? If so, they need to hire a better editor.
 

hirashin

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There was almost nothing in that room.
Would this sound wrong, too?

How about these?
Though I worked really hard, I got almost nothing in return.
Though I worked really hard, I got just about nothing in return.

I have found some examples using "just about nothing" on the Web.
For example, "That, of course, is an ungodly response and though it might be gratifying, it does just about nothing to restore the relationship…"

What do you think?
 

hirashin

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I've found some examples of "just about nothing" or "almost nothing" used on the Web.

Do you think the following sentences sound off ?
(a) Though I worked really hard, I got almost nothing in return.
(b) Though I worked really hard, I got just about nothing in return.
(c) This planet was almost the only one that we had found outside the solar system at that moment.
(d) This planet was just about the only one that we had found outside the solar system at that moment.
 

Michael2

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Hirashin, I think the example ""That, of course, is an ungodly response and though it might be gratifying, it does just about nothing to restore the relationship…" is not so much about the literal meaning of just about nothing, but is trying to say that the "response" is virtually worthless. It still sounds odd to me tbh, but I can see how it could have evolved into colloquial English somewhere.
 

mdchachi

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There was almost nothing in that room.
Sounds perfectly natural.
Though I worked really hard, I got almost nothing in return.
Sounds very natural.
Though I worked really hard, I got just about nothing in return.
Sounds natural.
For example, "That, of course, is an ungodly response and though it might be gratifying, it does just about nothing to restore the relationship…"
Sounds natural.
(c) This planet was almost the only one that we had found outside the solar system at that moment.
(d) This planet was just about the only one that we had found outside the solar system at that moment.
These sound a little strange to me. I guess it goes back to joadbres' point. I would probably say
This planet was one of the few that we had found outside the solar system at that moment.
 

DawnMcReynolds

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(a) I've just about finished my homework.
Sounds natural. Means the time-consuming part is finished.

(b) Mike comes to my place just about every day.
Sounds natural. Means more often than not.

(c) In this restaurant you can eat just about anything from all over the world.
Is an obvious exaggeration but it sounds natural.

(d) There was just about nothing in the room.
This does not sound natural to me.
'Almost nothing', 'practically nothing', or 'basically nothing' would work, but I've never heard 'just about' applied to 'nothing'. (Except in sarcasm)
 
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