Evgeniia
Could you tell me please if the words just/single in "in just a single year" are unnecessary? "One young woman, Rachel, 19, recently came to the firm after running up debts of £30,000 in just a single year." According to the keys in my textbook, there are unnecessary words in the said sentence: just or single, so it has to be "in just a year" or "in a single year". Turns out, the whole task was based on this article https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2001/feb/25/shopping.paulharris. The authors of my textbook deliberately injected some unnecessary words in the article, like: "1: Company officials put ON a lot of the blame for the rise squarely at the door of the internet, [...]" And the task was to find those unnecessary words: "line 1: on", etc. Yet, for some reason, they deemed the original phrase "in just a single year" (it was like that in the said article) incorrect. I don't understand it; it sounds like an emphasis for me. Also, it looks like the phrase "in just a single" year/day/minute/step/etc is all over the internet (including numerous books). Thank you!
Oct 27, 2018 10:48 AM
Answers · 9
"In just a single year" is a colloquial form of emphasis, which is why you see it all over the internet. It's not grammatically incorrect, it's just informal. The Guardian tends to write in more colloquial English. You would not see this sort of phrase pop up from more formal news sources, though, such as the BBC or The New York Times.
October 27, 2018
I would personally say "in just one year." The just implies that it's a short amount of time to run up £30,000 of debt.
October 27, 2018
Hi - I am a native speaker of English and I think you are absolutely correct here - the use is emphatic. Sometimes, workbooks and course books do contain errors like this. This is one reason I always ask my students to check with me if they are not sure why their answer is wrong. If anything is a bit redundant in this sentence, it's 'one young woman' as the age is given. Hope this helps:-)
October 27, 2018
Thank you, Elise! I got you! I'd better not use this phrase for formal essays just in case :)
October 27, 2018
I wasn't sure how to reply to your comments, so I am adding a new comment to make sure you see it :) The search engines don't look for whole phrases; when you search on the New York Times website or the BBC website for "in just a single year," it looks for articles that have similar linked words. I did a content search with the browser in a few of the articles, and didn't actually find that phrase anywhere. Though it is interesting to see that phrases closer to "in just a single year" tend to crop up with sports-related news from both news sources. I suppose this makes sense because sports are inherently less formal, but I never would have guessed that there would be stylistic variations within a news organization. Thanks for pointing this out! :)
October 27, 2018
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Evgeniia
Language Skills
English, Russian
Learning Language
English