Expressing "small quantity" with "jiu"

(Redirected from "Just" with "jiu")

就 (jiù) is often translated simply as "just" or "only," but there are some nuances to how it is used.

Used as "Only"

就 can also be used to express one person or thing, similar to how we say in English "just one person" or "just one left." It is often paired with 一个 or similar in order to emphasize the small quantity.

Used Before the Subject


就 + Subj. + Predicate

The predicate part of the pattern can be a verb or an adjective.


  • 这 件 事 我 知道 。Zhè jiàn shì jiù wǒ zhīdào.I'm the only person that knows about this.
  • 我们 都 忘 了 , 他 还 记得 。Wǒmen dōu wàng le, jiù tā hái jìde.We all forgot. Only he still remembers it.
  • 大家 都 下班 了 , 老板 还 没 走 。Dàjiā dōu xiàbān le, jiù lǎobǎn hái méi zǒu.Everyone finished work and left. Only the boss hasn't left.
  • 其他 的 菜 都 很 好吃, 这 两 个 菜 有点 咸 。Qítā de cài dōu hěn hǎochī, jiù zhè liǎng gè cài yǒudiǎn xián.The other dishes are great. Just these two dishes are a little salty.
  • 你 觉得 别人 都 是 傻子 吗? 你 聪明 ?Nǐ juéde biérén dōu shì shǎzi ma? Jiù nǐ cōngming?Do you think everyone else is an idiot? That only you are smart?

In this case, the 就 comes before the verb, and what's being emphasized as "small quantity" comes after the verb, either as an object or some other kind of small quantity.

Used Before the Predicate


Subj. + 就 + [Verb Phrase]

In this structure, the verb phrase is going to include some kind of measure word.


  • 去 过 一 次 。jiù qù guo yī cì.I've only been there once.
  • 我 早饭 吃 了 一 片 面包。Wǒ zǎofàn jiù chī le yī piàn miànbāo.I only had a piece of bread for breakfast.
  • 点 了 两 个 菜 ?jiù diǎn le liǎng gè cài?You ordered only two dishes?
  • 他 的 事 ,我们 知道 一点点 。Tā de shì, wǒmen jiù zhīdào yīdiǎndiǎn.We only know a little about his business.
  • 她 在 我们 公司 工作 了 两个 月。Tā zài wǒmen gōngsī jiù gōngzuò le liǎng gè yuè.She has worked at our company for only two months.

Used as "Only Have"

In this case, 就 means "only have," similar in meaning to 只有. (In these cases, however, 就有 would not be correct. Just use 就.)


Subj. + 就 + Number + [Measure Word] + Noun


  • 这里 一 个 厕所 ?Zhèlǐ jiù yī gè cèsuǒ?Does this place only have one bathroom?
  • 你们 家 一 个 孩子 吗 ?Nǐmen jiā jiù yī gè háizi ma?Does your family only have one child?
  • 一 个 哥哥 。jiù yī gè gēge.I only have one brother.
  • 他 在 上海 一 个 朋友 。Tā zài Shànghǎi jiù yī gè péngyou.He only has one friend in Shanghai.
  • 我们 公司 三 个 员工 。Wǒmen gōngsī jiù sān gè yuángōng.There are only three employees in our company.

See also

Sources and further reading