而 - is a connective like "and" in some situations. Etymologically this meaning comes from how hair in someone's beard are close together. 就 - is a connective in other situations. Etymology information is lost to us.

Can we say that sometimes they are equal in their meaning and function? In what circumstances are they equal?

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Actually, these two words are very different, and it's the difference - not the similarity - you need to grasp.

Both of these words indicate a rhetorical "following from," but 就 means "to follow from" in the broadest, simplest sense, rather like an English "then":

When it's used as a 'verb', it's intended to show that one thing follows as a consequence of another. An excellent example of how this usage can be precisely mapped in English is below:

"若這樣就那樣“ - "If this, then that."
"他吃了整之火雞,那他就飽了。“ - "He ate the whole turkey, so he, then, [is] full!"

As you can see, "就“ as a "verb" is easily understandable as an English "then", as well.

Now consider this:

"我渴死了“ - "I'm thirsty!"
”那,你就去喝水吧!“ - "So go drink, then...."

The many instances this phrase can be used - whether humorously, as a reprimand, as an exclamation, as an acquiescence, as mockery - all pretty much depend on "就" being the simplest, most common-sense idea anyone could have. 若一就二 - like that.

“而” is more like an "and" than a "then" - however, it is more specific and narrow because it further indicates transcendence, or moving beyond the expectations of discourse. In that sense, it's much more like "moreover" - so whether one uses it as "and," "also," "but," "however," or any other sense, it always has that meaning of saying "moreover" behind it -

"我吃飽了,而吃太飽雅。。。“ -
"I ate, moreover {but/also/however}, i ate too much."

男: “昨晚我們去看弟弟演一出布萊希特戲..."
女: "而他演的好好看啦!“

Guy: "Last night we went to see my little brother act in one of Brecht's plays."
Gal: "Moreover {And/But/Also} he really acted so well in it!"

In that exchange above, "而“ can be used to indicate a "but" -

Guy: "We went to see my brother act [implied: and i expected him to be awful]...."
Gal: "But he really looked great up there!"

Or an "and" that draws attention to the importance of what comes after, in contrast to what came before:

Guy: "We saw my brother..."
Gal: "And it was amazing!"

Generally, in modern Chinese it's going to indicate a "moreover" of some sort - but depending on the rhetorical context, it can be translated into other languages in any of many ways.

  • Respect to you, Stranger! "而-transcendence" - nice wording and image! – coobit May 10 '16 at 7:38
  • Where did you pick up those things? Any book can you suggest? – coobit May 10 '16 at 7:42
  • I'm a Chinese-as-a-Second-Language learner/speaker of 24 years, now. I have lived in Taiwan for all that time (thus, the 繁體字). I'm also a professional ESL teacher, and Chinese-to-English translator of about 15 years, now. So that explanation has come to me through my own studies of the language and experience as both learner and teacher . – Kyle Pearson May 10 '16 at 9:50
  • And i'm flattered you appreciated. I'm glad i could help. – Kyle Pearson May 10 '16 at 9:55
  • And come to think of it, the one book i do recommend unqualifiedly is probably one you already know: Li & Thompson's "Mandarin Grammar." It was a HUGE help to me when starting out - particularly the sections on the topicality of Mandarin Chinese. It really drove home how all sentences in Chinese have, at root, some frame of topical reference that may be implied, or - in formal writing - is typically stated outright, although not necessarily in a way that non-native speakers can immediately grasp. Learning the cues takes practice. – Kyle Pearson May 10 '16 at 9:58

就 is foremost a verb (closing in, move towards; engage in; accomplish) or an adverb (only, just; then; immediately; precisely), and rarely a conjunction (even if).

而 is foremost a conjunction (and; and yet) or a classical pronoun (you).

They have no common meanings, and also no particular grammar in common. They can be used together, as in 一蹴而就 or 就我而言.

according to 漢語多功能字庫 & 教育部異體字字典,

http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/lexi-mf/search.php?word=而 http://dict2.variants.moe.edu.tw/variants/rbt/word_attribute.rbt?quote_code=QTAzMjU1

http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/lexi-mf/search.php?word=就 http://dict2.variants.moe.edu.tw/variants/rbt/word_attribute.rbt?quote_code=QTAxMDc0

let look at the differences first: 就, as verb: come to, go to, complete, follow; 而 doesn't used as verb.

就, as idiom: at once; 而 doesn't imply such.

而 as noun: beard; 就 doesn't have this meaning.

so, 而 as adverb or conjunction (also, and, and yet, and then, but, nevertheless); 就 as adverb or preposition (then, thereupon, according to), they might be equal.

in literary chinese:

而者﹒承上之詞也﹒置句首或中﹒猶如也﹒若也﹒然也﹒乃也﹒則也﹒以也﹒與也﹒及也﹒其也﹒豈也﹒且也﹒猶也﹒故也﹒夫也﹒此也﹒唯也

i think that 而 and 就 have different meanings most of the time, one cannot replace each other without modifying the structure of sentence.

Your Answer

 

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.