‘才’(cái) vs ’就‘(jiù)

 

 

Similarities:

 

1. 才(cái) and 就(jiù) both can be used to reinforce the idea that the quantity is small or inferior to what is expected. It’s equal to ‘only’ in English.

 

Subj. + 才(cái)/就(jiù) + Quantity + Measure Word + Noun

 

ex:

这个班才/就八个人。

There are only eight people in this class.

这家公司才/就两个员工。

There are only two employees in the company.

 

Pinyin:

  • Zhège bān cái/jiù bā gè rén.
  • Zhèjiā gōngsi cái/jiù liǎng gè yuángōng.

 

 

2. When there is a verb appearing in a sentence structure, the position of ‘‘(cái) or ‘’(jiù) is either before or after the verb.

 

Subj. + 才(cái) / 就(jiù) + Verbal phrase + Measure word + Noun

or

Subj. + Verbal phrase + 才(cái) / 就(jiù) + Measure word + Noun

 

ex:

我 才/就 来上海不到两天 = 我来上海 才/就 不到两天

I came to Shanghai only for less two days.

他们 才/就 认识三个星期就结婚了 = 他们认识 才/就 三个星期就结婚了

They only knew each other for three weeks before they got married.

 

Pinyin:

  • Wǒ cái/jiù lái shànghǎi búdào liǎngtiān.
  • Wǒ lái Shànghǎi cái/jiù bùdào liǎngtiān.
  • Tāmen cái/jiù rènshi sān gè xīngqi jiù jiéhūn le.
  • Tāmen rènshi cái/jiù sān gè xīngqi jiū jiéhūn le.

 

 

Differences:

 

1. ‘’ expresses that the action taken is later than expected.  It is placed before the main verb. Sometimes, it is equal to ‘not until’, ‘as late as’ in English.

 

Subj. + Time + 才(cái) + Verb.

 

ex:

我昨晚八点才吃晚饭。

I had dinner at 8 pm last night.

她三十七岁才结婚。

She didn’t get married until she was thirty-seven.

你们怎么现在才来?

How come you just got here?

 

Pinyin:

  • Wǒ zuówǎn bādiǎn cái chī wǎnfàn.
  • Tā sānshí qī suì cái jiéhūn.
  • Nǐmen zěnme xiànzài cái lái?

 

Subj. + Verb + 了(le) + Time + 才(cái) + Verb

 

ex:

我等了两个小时才买到票。

It took me two hours to get the tickets.

他迟到了一个半小时才来。

He was late for one hour and a half.

他吃了三碗饭才吃饱。

He didn’t feel full until he’s eaten three bowls of rice.

 

Pinyin:

  • wǒ děng le liǎng gè xiǎoshí cái mǎi dào piào.
  • tā chídào le yígè bàn xiǎoshií cái lái.
  • tā chīle sān wǎn fàn cái chībǎo.

 

2. ‘‘ expresses that the action taken is earlier or sooner than expected. It is placed before the main verb. Sometimes, it is equal to ‘as early as’ in English.

 

Subj. + Time + 就(jiù) + Verb

 

ex:

我一会儿就到。I will be here in a few minutes.

他一大早就来了。He came here in the early morning.

昨晚我八点就睡觉了。I went to bed at 8 pm last night.

 

Pinyin:

  • Wǒ yíhuìr jiù dào.
  • Tā yídà zǎo jiù lái le.
  • Zuówǎn wǒ bādiǎn jiù shuìjiào le.

 

Subj. + Time + 就(jiù) + Verb + 了(le)

 

ex:

我的妹妹十五岁就上大学了。

My younger sister went to university when she was only 15.

我想给她一份礼物,可是她今早就走了。

I want to give her a present, but she left early in this morning.

他下午四点就吃晚饭了。

He had dinner at 4 pm.

 

Pinyin:

  • Wǒ de mèimei shíwǔ suì jiù shàng dàxué le.
  • Wǒ xiǎng gěi tā yífèn lǐwù, kěshì tā jīnzǎo jiù zǒu le.
  • Tā xiàwǔ sìdiǎn jiù chī wǎnfàn le.

 

 

Compare more:

 

Mix uages:

他们三点就来了,可是你们现在才来。

They came as early as 3 o’clock, but you came as late as now.

她今年就可以去中国,我明年才可以去中国。

She can go to China this year, I can only go to China by next year!

他们今天下午三点就能出发,我们要晚上八点才能走。

They can set off today at 3 pm, we can only set off at 8 pm!

 

Pinyin

  • Tāmen sāndiǎn jiù lái le, kěshì nǐmen xiànzài cái lái.
  • Tā jīnnián jiù kěyǐ qù Zhōngguó, wǒ míngnián cái kěyǐ qù Zhōngguó.
  • Tāmen jīntiān xiàwǔ sāndiǎn jiù néng chūfā, wǒmen yào wǎnshàng bādiǎn cái néng zǒu.
Ling

Ling

Hi, I’m Ling, a Chinese tutor and a language learning amateur. I create this blog with a goal to help Mandarin learners and Chinese culture lovers to study and know about this language by self-learning. Welcome to visit me from time to time and give me your precious advice! Thank you! 😛

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