Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

8.7: Lesson 7 Grammar- Expressing earliness with 就 (jiù)

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    Just as 才 (cái) can express lateness, 就 (jiù) can be used to indicate that something happened earlier or sooner than expected. It can also be used in the near future to indicate something will happen very soon.

    Used as "Right Away" (in the Future) 

    When something happens "right away," you're talking about "very soon" in the future.


    The pattern is as follows:

         Subj. + Time + 就 + Verb


    • 我马上就来。
      Wǒ mǎshàng jiù lái.
      I'll be there in a second.
    • 米饭二十分钟就好。
      Mǐfàn èrshí fēnzhōng jiù hǎo.
      The rice will be ready in 20 minutes.
    • 你们现在就出门吗?
      Nǐmen xiànzài jiù chūmén ma?
      Are you leaving the house right now?
    • 他们一会儿就到。
      Tāmen yīhuìr jiù dào.
      They will be here in a few minutes.
    • 老板明天就回来。
      Lǎobǎn míngtiān jiù huílái.
      The boss will be back tomorrow.

    Note that it can sometimes be hard to translate the feeling of "soonness" into English, but in every one of these examples, the time given in the sentences feels "soon" to the speaker.

    Used as "Early" (in the Past) 


    This use of 就 might be translated "as early as," but usually the earliness is not specifically marked in English.

         Subj. + [Point in Time] + 就 + Verb + 了


    • 我们九点上课,他八点就来了。
      Wǒmen jiǔ diǎn shàngkè, tā bā diǎn jiù lái le.
      We have class at nine, but he came in at eight.
    • 飞机十点起飞,他六点就到机场了。
      Fēijī shí diǎn qǐfēi, tā liù diǎn jiù dào jīchǎng le.
      The plane takes off at ten o'clock, but he arrived at the airport at six.
    • 我昨晚八点半就睡觉了。
      Wǒ zuówǎn bā diǎn bàn jiù shuìjiào le.
      I went to bed at eight thirty last night.
    • 她十八岁就大学毕业了。
      Tā shíbā suì jiù dàxué bìyè le.
      She graduated from college when she was only 18 years old.

    Not only can 就 emphasize a "point in time," but it can also emphasize a "time period," indicating that something happened very quickly.

         Subj. + Time Period + 就 + Verb + 了

    A few examples:

    • 你一个晚上就看完了?
      Nǐ yī gè wǎnshang jiù kàn wán le?
      It only took you just one night to finish reading it?
    • 他十分钟就做完了。
      Tā shí fēnzhōng jiù zuò wán le.
      It only took him ten minutes to finish doing it.

    From the example sentences it is clear that 了 naturally occurs with a verb used after 就. This is because verbs following 就 generally have the feeling of being completed.

    Colloquial Saying 早就 

    早就 means "long ago," and is usually used to express a kind of impatience or surprise on the part of the speaker. It comes before the verb.

    • 我早就知道了!
      Wǒ zǎo jiù zhīdào le!
      I knew that long ago!
    • 她早就结婚了。
      Tā zǎo jiù jiéhūn le.
      She got married a long time ago.
    • 他们早就分手了。
      Tāmen zǎo jiù fēnshǒu le.
      They broke up a long time ago.
    • 我们早就毕业了。
      Wǒmen zǎo jiù bìyè le.
      We graduated a long time ago!
    • 我早就跟你说过,他不是好人。
      Wǒ zǎo jiù gēn nǐ shuō guo, tā bù shì hǎo rén.
      I told you a long time ago that he's not a good guy.

    [adapted from AllSet Learning Chinese Grammar Wiki, Creative Commons License BY-NC-SA 3.0]

    *     *     *

    Any Questions? 

    If you have any questions about this grammar point, please ask in the class forums!

    This page titled 8.7: Lesson 7 Grammar- Expressing earliness with 就 (jiù) is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Carl Polley (裴凯).