Expressing "about to" with "jiuyao"
就要 (jiùyào) is similar to 快要 (kuàiyào), meaning "about to." They are interchangeable in some cases. But there is a major difference that you need to take a good look at.
(Subj. +) 就要 + Verb + 了 (，⋯⋯)
- 就 要 下雨 了 。It's about to rain.
- 他们 就 要 结婚 了 。They are about to get married.
- 我 就 要 出国 了 。I'm about to go abroad.
- 宝宝 就 要 一岁 了 。The baby is about to be one year old.
- 就 要 下课 了 ，还有 别的 问题 吗 ？The class is almost over. Are there any other questions?
In this case, 就要 can be replaced by 快要 or 快.
快要 (kuài yào) is generally "about to" [happen], but 就要 (jiù yào) could be used to mark a more specific time. 要 (yào) here can be omitted. For this one, you wouldn't normally use "about to" for this English translation, but the feeling is nevertheless that the impending event is coming up fast. This use of 就 (jiù) overlaps with its usage indicating earliness.
还有 + Time (+ Subj.) + 就 (要) + Verb + 了
- 还有 十 分钟 我 就 下班 了 。I get off work in 10 minutes.
- 还有 两 个 星期 我们 就 要 考试 了 。We're just two weeks away from the exam date.
- 还有 一 个 月 就 要 过年 了 。It will be Chinese New Year in another month.
- 还有 半 个 小时 飞机 就 起飞 了 。The plane takes off in half an hour.
- 还有 五 天 就 要 放假 了 。 I go on vacation in 5 days.
Sources and further reading
- Boya Chinese Elementary Starter 1 (博雅汉语初经起步篇) (pp. 183) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- Integrated Chinese: Level 1, Part 1 (3rd ed) (pp. 267-8) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- New Practical Chinese Reader 2 (新实用汉语课本2) (pp. 196-7) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- 40 Lessons for Basic Chinese Course (基础汉语40课上册） (pp. 271) [ →buy]
- ChinesePod: Qing Wen - 了 (le): Something's About to Happen (free podcast content)