“就 (jiù)” Doesn't Only Mean "Just" - A Practical Guide for Using "就"

When students first learn 就 (jiù), they're told that it means "just". But *just* like in English, the word "just" has many meanings and ways to use it. Here are 5 different ways to use "jiu" at level HSK 2 and 3.

 

1. Emphasize a Verb

Put "jiu" before a verb to emphasize the verb.

Michael是谁?就是我。

Michael shì shéi? jiù shì wǒ.

Who is Michael? It's me.

 

2. An Action Takes a Short Time

天安门广场离这儿不远,走路二十分钟就到了。

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.

 

3. An Action Will Happen Soon

This is the most common meaning of "jiu" in HSK 2 textbooks.

等我一下,我就来。

Děng wǒ yīxià, wǒ jiù lái.

Wait for me, I will come soon.

The struture "jiu...le / jiuyao... le" is the same meaning.

春节就要来了。

Chūnjié jiùyào lái le.

The Spring Festival is coming soon.

 

4. An Action Happened Earlier Than Expected

In this case, put "jiu" after the time word.

我早上8点就到公司了。

Wǒ zǎoshang 8 diǎn jiù dào gōngsī le.

I arrived the company at 8 am.

 

5. Then, As a Conjunction

只要你努力学习,你就一定能成功。

Zhǐyào nǐ nǔlì xuéxí, nǐ jiù yīdìng néng chénggōng.

As long as you study hard, then you will surely succeed.

The structure "...le...jiu..." has the same meaning but indicates two actions occurred successively.

昨天我回了家就睡觉。

Zuótiān wǒ huíle jiā jiù shuìjiào.

Yesterday I went home then slept immediately.

 

These are 5 different mearnings of "jiu" in HSK 2 and 3. Why are there so many variations at an elementary level? Maybe because it's commonly used in every day conversation. Hope this helps you understand it a little better.