Pimsleur's Mandarin course teaches "I'm leaving very early tomorrow morning" as:

我明天早上很早就走 (wŏ míngtiān zăoshàng hĕn zăo jiù zŏu)

It says that 就 (jiù) doesn't have a corresponding meaning in English, but, frustratingly, that's all it says about it.

What is the role of in this sentence, and how is it needed and used in a more general sense in Mandarin?

  • I HATE 就 definitely,I never know when can be used it,I've been seeking out the answer and nothing until now =[
    – user931
    Aug 14, 2012 at 15:31
  • I hated it too but now I understand. 就 is simply one of many chinese "and"s with a hint of "already". In this particular sentence it means "很早就走" = "very early and already (i'm) gone"
    – coobit
    Oct 13, 2017 at 6:35

4 Answers 4


Since 就 is a construct that has many meanings, I'm only going to concentrate on your sentence.

In your sentence it will give emphasis that it is really early. You can also write: 我明天早上很早走 but this lacks the emphasis 我明天早上很早就走 has. And the latter construction will be used much more than the former.

Some similar constructions:

  • 马上就来: to come right down
  • 一会儿就好: I'm ready in a moment

It is used for actions (after the 就). You have the structure A就B and B will be done after A is done.

就 can be used to say that one thing comes immediately or very soon after the other. For example 我明天吃了早饭就走: Tomorrow, I will immediately leave after having eaten breakfast.

In this type of sentence you normally have a verb before the 就 and when after the 就. Although there is no verb in 我明天早上很早就走, it is actually the same kind of structure and you can understand it the same. Immediately after "早上很早" you'll leave.

The opposite of this 就 is 才 (another word with many meanings). There you emphasize that something happened really or rather late. For example 我十一点才起床了: I only got out of bed at 11.

  • When 就 is used to give emphasis, is it only used with regard to time, or can it be used in other ways?
    – Cocowalla
    Aug 1, 2012 at 11:57
  • The ...了...就... structure I mentioned above is specific for time. There is also a 一...就... structure which was the same meaning (so also specific for time). 就 however has many meanings and can also mean exactly, precisely. For example 就是他. It can also mean only: 家里就是他一个人: In his family there was only him
    – BertR
    Aug 1, 2012 at 13:44

I am a Taiwanese but not a trained Chinese teacher, my explanation might not be academically correct :p.

First let me explain what changes with . Adding emphasises the fact by making the tone sounds stronger, try read it out and feel the difference. It's a word you can say it with more strength, heavily, louder, tones up. Without it sometimes there is no place in the sentence to put the power. I will know you want me to be noticed that you are leaving early tomorrow.

Second, the effect of varies depending on the reason you want to emphasise it and depending on the following or the followed statements. Maybe you don't like this place so you want to take the very first train to leave, or maybe you want me to send the kids to school because you won't be available tomorrow morning, or you are going to bed early tonight because you are leaving early tomorrow, or when you say it with no explicit reason it makes me feel you are expecting me to ask why.


The Chinese Grammar Wiki has a page on expressing earliness with 就.

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 就 来了。
  • 她 十八 岁 就 大学 毕业 了。
  • 我们 上次 出去 玩,他 九点 就 回去 了。
  • 我 五 点 钟 就 到 了 饭馆,你 让 我 等 这么 久,罚 你 请客!

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

If you're interested in the many other uses of 就, they have several related pages.

  • I don't completely agree. In the examples you give everything on the right side has already happened and hence the 了 should definitely be added. In the example Cocowalla gave the right hand side is in the future and hence hasn't finished yet and therefor the 了 doesn't need to be added (as Pimsleur also does). I believe for example NPCR reader made this distinction (but I can't verify this now).
    – BertR
    Aug 2, 2012 at 5:59

In this context, has the English meaning of will as in:

I will be leaving very early tomorrow morning.

According to Baidu, has many usages. Although Baidu has stated that just is the English word, I believe that will is more appropriate as in the following commonly used phrases:

就会 - will be

就能 - will be able to

就可 - will be able to

  • So are you saying it's used to say that something will be the case in the future? Like present would be "am able to (now)" and future would be 就可 "will be able to"?
    – Cocowalla
    Aug 1, 2012 at 11:54
  • 1
    @Cocowalla, I think the other two answerers have provided a more correct explanation on the use of the word. In this case, to add an emphasis to something that will happen, shall happen (future) or is going to happen (very soon).
    – 杨以轩
    Aug 1, 2012 at 14:19
  • Future and completion are distinct. We can talk about completed things in the future: "I will leave after I finish dinner". In grammar some languages have grammatical "tense" and others have grammatical "aspect". A few languages have both but because it's not common many people confuse tense and aspect. Future relates to tense and completion relates to aspect. All languages can express both but typically only have grammatical constructions for one and the other must be dealt with in various less systematic ways. Jul 18, 2015 at 16:10

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