To my understanding, both hold the meaning of "already happened long ago". What are the nuances though? Are they interchangeable?


  • 早已打定主意了。 (He made up his mind long ago.)

  • 早就搬走了。 (He moved out long ago.)


  • looked up 早已,早就 in iciba?there find many sample sentences as well definitions borrowed from baidu, 早已: long ago ; for a long time ; already 早就:long since,
    – user6065
    Commented Mar 22, 2015 at 3:47
  • @S.Rhee - thanks, iciba is great. However, these time/duration words are a bit more elusive (to me at least), and a knowledgeable explanation could help understanding the nuance. Commented Mar 22, 2015 at 4:58
  • the 百科 article concerning 早已 contains 早就 while explaining its meaning 1. [long ago]∶很早就 2. [in the past]〈方〉 早就 and the article concerning 早就 has "early on"很久前就 (1).早熟,早有所成。2).早已经。That is, the definition of either contains the other giving some indication of how much they could differ 。
    – user6065
    Commented Mar 22, 2015 at 6:33
  • They have same meaning, and for your example, they are interchangeable. In general, 早已 is used in written language more, and 早就 is used in spoken language more.
    – user4072
    Commented Mar 22, 2015 at 16:25
  • For me, they have same meaning. By the way, combine '就' and '已经' is also ok: 他早就已经打定主意了 / 他早就已经搬走了 Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 9:24

7 Answers 7


早已 and 早就 are different. They can be exchangeable in practice and may or may not have the same meaning. But their grammar structure are different.


他搬走了.(He moved) (To answer what happened to him?)

他已经搬走了.(Since he moved, he is no longer here)

他早已经搬走了.(1) (Since he moved, he is no longer here. That happened long time ago.)

他早已搬走了.(same as 1)


他搬走了.(He moved)

他早搬走了.(He moved)(That happened long time ago.)

他早就搬走了.(He moved)(I am sure that happened long time ago.) (How come you do not even know it ??? )

早已 has the basic meaning of 已经. The combination logic is the 早 is used to modify 已经.

早就 has the basic meaning of 早 as adverb to modify the verb 搬走. 就 is to emphasize and to be very sure about it.

  • "他早就搬走了" and "他早已搬走了" sound the same to me, except "早已" is somehow more formal.
    – leetom
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 10:03
  • In some cases, in Chinese, the present-perfect and the simple-past are not quit clear. I agree. Even in English, there are gray areas too.
    – PdotWang
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 11:45
  • I never paid attention to the tense in Chinese, though I am a native speaker. For these two, I would vote both for present-perfect.
    – leetom
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 13:21
  • Comparing, 他一月十日就搬走了. 他已经搬走三个月了.
    – PdotWang
    Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 0:03

早已 is more formal. It is seldom used in modern Cn Lang. In general, it brings you negative emotion. (Something/Somebody has gone/disappeared/left)

早就 has some deeper meaning such as pride, regret, impatient, etc. It broadly used in modern Cn Lang.


我早就把早餐做好了 - I have cooked our breakfast already. [PRIDE]

他早就去世了 - He has been dead already. (I missed him so much.) [REGRET]

早就做完了 - It is done already (and I don't want to talk about it any more since I have things to do. I have no time talking with you). [IMPATIENT]


These two words are the same meaning.Both mean something are already end in long time. But '早已' is used in written form more often.And ‘早就' sometime sub mean:complain something doing too late.

For example:

你怎么还不走?他早就走了。tell him keep up quickly.

你怎么现在才来?他早就走了。You are too slow.

物是人非,我们的感情早已不能回到从前。Written form.


To your specific question:

早已 is more literal. It existed in classical poems, e.g., "小荷才露尖尖角,蜻蜓早已立上头".

早就 is more verbal. It is widely existing in modern Chinese.

Nowadays, there is no difference in meaning, unless you are studying classical Chinese.

Spiting the words, 已 and 就 are just like the relationship between 早已 and 早就, one is more literal while they other is more verbal.

As other combinations like 已经, 早已经, these are already off topic.


These two words are the same meaning. 早已 often use in written when 早就 often used in spoken.


But why do I think they are all the same?Maybe "早已” is used more often in the past time and it sounds more literary.They are not so different now.


早已 is more formal and is mostly used in written. Sometimes we may also use the phrase 早就已经, which is pretty much like the combination of 早已 and 早就.

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