When Chinese language students first learn 就 (jiù), they’re told that it means “just”. But *just* like the word *just* in English, the word “just” in Mandarin Chinese has many meanings and ways to use it.
Here are some examples of how to use ‘就 jiù’ in the Chinese language levels HSK 2 and 3. We hope with these tips, 就 (jiù) will drive you a little bit less crazy while learning Mandarin.
Use 就 (jiù) to emphasize a verb
Put “jiu” before a verb to emphasize the verb.
- Michael shì shéi? jiù shì wǒ.
- Who is Michael? It’s me.
就 (jiù) signals an action takes only a short amount of time
- Tiān’ānmén guǎngchǎng lí zhèr bù yuǎn, zǒulù èrshí fēnzhōng jiù dào le.
- Tian’anmen Square is not far from here. It just took 20 minutes to walk there.
Structure: Topic +就(jiù)……(了le)
You can rephrase this sentence:
- Zǎoshang 9 diǎn shàngkè, tā 8 diǎn dào jiàoshì.
- Class starts at 9 o’clock in the morning, and he arrives in the classroom at 8 o’clock.
Into this one:
- Tā bā diǎn jiù dào jiàoshì le.
- He arrived in the classroom at eight o’clock.
Another rewriting example using 就 jiù:
- Fēijī shì 12 diǎn de, Wáng Xiǎomài 10 diǎn dào jīchǎng.
- The plane is at 12 o’clock, Wang Mai arrives at the airport at 10 o’clock.
- Wáng xiǎomài 10 diǎn jiù dào jīchǎngle.
- Wang Maimai arrived at the airport at 10 o’clock.
Another example, from this:
- Tā sān fēnzhōng chī wánle wǔfàn.
- He finished his lunch in three minutes.
- Tā sān fēnzhōng jiù chī wán fànle.
He finished his meal in three minutes.
- Tā yòngle bú dào bàn gè xiǎoshí pǎo wánle 10 gōnglǐ de mǎlāsōng.
- He ran the 10 km marathon in less than half an hour.
- Tā bú dào bàn gè xiǎoshí jiù pǎo wán mǎlāsōngle.
- He finished the marathon in less than half an hour.
Use 就 (jiù) to emphasize an action will happen soon
This is the most common meaning of “jiu” in Chinese language HSK 2 textbooks.
- Děng wǒ yíxià, wǒ jiù lái.
- Wait for me, I will come soon.
The structure “jiu…le / jiuyao… le” is the same meaning.
- Chūnjié jiùyào lái le.
- The Spring Festival is coming soon.
就 (jiù) signals an action happened earlier than expected
In this case, put “jiu” after the time word.
- Wǒ zǎoshang 8 diǎn jiù dào gōngsī le.
- I arrived the company at 8 am.
Use 就 (jiù) as ‘Then’ (conjunction word)
- Zhǐyào nǐ nǔlì xuéxí, nǐ jiù yídìng néng chénggōng.
- As long as you study hard, then you will surely succeed.
The structure “…le…jiu…” has the same meaning, but in Chinese indicates two actions that occurred successively.
- Zuótiān wǒ huíle jiā jiù shuìjiào.
- Yesterday I went home then slept immediately.
These are five different Chinese language meanings of “jiu” in HSK 2 and 3. Why are there so many variations at an elementary level? Maybe because it’s commonly used in everyday conversation. It’ll take you some time to get intuitive with this, but we hope this helps you understand the usage of this Chinese word a little better.