The Mandarin particle 就(jiù) is a very common word in Chinese with a ton of different uses. Depending on the context, it can be a verb, adverb, preposition, or even other parts of speech, and is one of the central word particles in Chinese. It’s extremely important that we master it!
In this article, we will take a look at all the meanings and grammatical functions of the word particle 就(jiù). (You can check the detailed comparisons video between 就 and 才 here.)
As a verb, 就(jiù) has the following meanings:
1. Come near, move towards
- 就近(jiùjìn) – next to
- 避繁就简(bì fán jiù jiǎn) – take the simple, less complicated way (idiom)
- 就着路灯下棋(jiùzhelùdēngxiàqí) – play chess next to the reading lamp
2. Accomplish, create/make
- 一蹴而就 (yī cù ér jiù) – accomplish in one step (idiom)
3. Accommodate yourself to, suit, fit
- 就便 (jiùbiàn ) – to do something at someone’s convenience
- 就手（jiùshǒu) – “while you are at it,” please do this simultaneously
你就手把我的信件也带来吧(nǐ jiùshǒu bǎ wǒ de xìnjiàn yě dàilái ba )
please get my mail as well when you are at it
4. Go with, eat with
- 花生仁就酒 (huā shēng rén jiù jiǔ) – peanuts go with liquor
The adverb 就(jiù) is used before a verb to suggest the earliness, briefness, or quickness of the action. This can literally translate to words like: “at once, right away, as early as, long since, or already.” Here are some examples:
- 我马上就来 (Wǒ mǎshàng jiù lái) – I’m coming immediately (I’ll be right there).
- 他就来 (tājiùlái ) – He will come right away.
- 他就快到了 (Tā jiù kuài dào le) – He will soon be here.
The example above also shows 就 (jiù) as an optional “intensifier.”
- 他明天七点就得上课 (Tā míngtiān qī diǎn jiù děi shàng kè.) – He has to go to class (as early as) at 7:00am tomorrow. ,
- 他早在一九四二年就成电影名星了 (tā zǎozài yījiǔsìèr nián jiù chéng diànyǐng míngxīng le) – He had become a film star as early as 1942.
就 vs. 才
As you now know, the adverb 就 (jiù) suggests the earliness or promptness of an action. The adverb 才 (cái), though, is the opposite: it suggests tardiness or lateness of an action. It is important to note that both of these verbs are a little subjective, and refer to earliness or tardiness as perceived by the speaker.
- 我昨天五点就回家了(Wǒ zuótiān wǔ diǎn jiù huí jiā Le.) – Yesterday I went home at only 5:00! (The speaker thought 5:00 was early.).
Note: When commenting on a past action, 就 (jiù) is always used with 了 (Le) to indicate promptness, but 才 (cái) is never used with 了.
就 jiù can also be used to link two verb phrases, signaling a sequential relationship between them which means ‘as soon as’, or ‘right after.’
- 说干就干 (shuō gàn jiù gàn ) – act at once
- 她一毕业就结婚了 (tā yíbì yè jiù jié hūn le) – She got married as soon as she graduated.
就 jiù can also connect two phrases to mean: ‘in that case,’ or ‘then.’ Furthermore, under certain conditions it can express what would happen naturally as a result of something else. It can finally connect two phrases to express tolerance.
- 只要虚心，就会进步 (zhǐ yào nǐ xū xīn ，jiù huì jìn bù ) – Provided you are modest, you will surely make progress.
- 丢了就丢了吧，以后小心点 (diū le jiù diū le ba，yǐhòu xiǎoxīn diǎn) – If it is lost, then it is lost. Just be more careful from now on. (tolerance)
就 jiù also express ‘originally it was so’ or ‘it is so for long ago’
- 我就知道 (wǒ jiù zhīdao) – I knew it.
- 我本来就不懂法语（wǒ běnlái jiù bùdǒng fǎyǔ）- Of course I don’t know French.
One use of jiù is to express determination of one’s mind and intentions. .In some sentences, this meaning is best translated by the English words: only, merely, just.
- 我就不信学不会 (wǒ jiù búxìn xuébúhuì) – I simply do not believe I cannot learn it well.
- 我要的就是这一个 (wǒ yào de jiùshì zhèyígè) – This is exactly the one I want.
- 我就想问一个问题 (wǒjiù xiǎng wèn yígè wèntí) – I only have one question.
Finally, 就 jiù can convey precise identification of a noun phrase. If the noun phrase is a person or place, there may be no English equivalent for 就(jiù). Take a look at the following example:
王 ：你找谁？ (wánɡ: nǐ zhǎo shéi?)
Wang ：Who are you looking for?
林 ： 我找王美玲。(lín: wǒ zhǎo wánɡ měi línɡ。)
lín ： I am looking for Wang Meiling.
王 ：我就是。 (wánɡ：wǒ jiù shì。)
wánɡ ：That’s me.
书店就在转角处。(Shūdiàn jiù zài zhuǎn jiǎo chù。)
The book store is just around the corner.
就 (jiù) can be used as a conjunction to mean “even if.”
- 你就不说，我也会知道。(nǐ jiù bùshuō, wǒ yě huì zhīdào。)- Even if you won’t tell me, I will know anyway.
- 你就送来，我也不要。(nǐ jiù sòng lái，wǒ yě bú yào。) – Even if you bring it to me, I will not accept it.
When used as a preposition, jiù means “with regard to, concerning, on, in respect of, or in light of.”
- 就目前情况看来 (jiù mùqián qíngkuàng kàn lái) – In light of the present situation
- 就我所知 (jiùwǒsuǒzhī) – so far as I know
- 就内容来说，这是一本好书 (jiù nèiróng lái shuō,zhèshì yìběn hǎo shū) – This is a good book, so far as its content is concerned
As you now have seen, the particle 就(jiù) has variety of meanings and ways it can be used. Because of this flexibility, it is part of many expressions and idioms in Chinese, some of which you saw above!. To mention a few more:
- 就要(jiù yào) – will，shall，be going to；
- 成就(chéng jiù) – Accomplishment；
- 就算 (jiù suàn) – even if；
- 就诊 (jiù zhěn) – To see a doctor for medical advice
- 就业 ( jiù yè) – Looking for employment，getting a job
- 一蹴而就 (yí cù ér jiù ) – To get there in one step，success at a stroke;
- 半推半就(bàn tuī bàn jiù) – Half willing and half unwilling
It’s important that you work to master this character!