Expressing earliness with "jiu"

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Level B1
Is similar to
Is used for Expressing time and date, Expressing attitude, Sequencing events in time

Just as 才 (cái) can express lateness, 就 (jiù) can be used to indicate that something happened earlier than expected.


The pattern is as follows:

Subject + Time + 就 + Verb + Object

In English this might be expressed with "as early as", but usually it's not specifically marked.


  • 我们 早上 九点 上课,可是 他 八点 来了。We have class at nine in the morning, but he came at eight.
  • 他没吃早饭 去上学了。He went to school without breakfast.
  • 她 十八 岁 大学 毕业 了。She graduated from college when she was only 18 years old.
  • 我们 上次 出去 玩,他 九点 回去 了。The last time we went out, he had to go back at nine.
  • 我 五 点 钟 到 了 饭馆,你 让 我 等 这么 久,罚 你 请客!I got to the restaurant at 5 o'clock. You made me wait for so long, so you need to pay the check.

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

See also

Sources and further reading