What is the difference between 交易就告成立. and 交易即告成立.?

The catch: Since every book says that 就=即 I considered to create a new sentence out 交易即告成立 by switchin characters.There is no instance of 交易就告成立 have been found by me as of yet. But it should I hope bring the difference between 就 and 即 to the surface.

One native said:


Some of my reseach: As far as I know 即 the core meaning is "identity". It seems this character has been merged with 卽(to eat, fast) on the basis of sound and similarity of composition.

Here is the saying from some Buddist book:

道遠乎哉。即物而真聖遠乎哉 “Is the Way far away? Reality is wherever there is identity with things”

即(ji) here is translated as "identical, identity".

another example from some modern manual:


here 即 again means "namely or identical".

P.S. please, don't tell me it's about food. Or if you do explain how food has something to do with "identity".

P.S.S. IMHO I would say that 即 looks more like a man hunching over tracks on ground 艮+卩. IMHO. IMHO.

P.S.S. Context:

  1. 国际商品贸易合同的签汀在交易磋商过程中,一方发盘经另一方接受以后,交易即告成立,贸易双方就构成了合同关系。
  2. 在实盘有效期内发盘人受其约束,只要受盘人在规定期限内接受发盘,交易即告成立 ...\ P.S.S.S. From a random guy in the internet:


Legally speaking, “即告成立” means that transaction or deal takes effect upon the elapse of that seven days.

The wording I propose should be acceptable in most cases for such translation.

  • I think their meanings are not clear without a context. Could you give some exmaples where these phrases are used?
    – ltux
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 9:22
  • it is all in dictionaries: 就:thereupon the (business) transaction/deal was completed,即:more or less the same, maybe include "immediately", see e.g. bkrs for 即
    – user6065
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 9:33
  • I thought that 即 was more "thereupon" and 就 was more "subject of completion" But the difference is still shaky in my mind.
    – coobit
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 9:36
  • In the context you give, 即 is an adverb and can be replaced with 就 theoretically. 即 is used only in very formal occasions or some idioms, while 就 is more used in spoken language.
    – ltux
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 11:08
  • re; very formal, cf."汉语800虚词用法词典"即(副)jí (adv。)at once 有"就、立刻、马上" 的意思,表示时间短,事情发生快,用于书面或手机短语。re:idioms,用于固定格式(1)如果矛盾不到及时解决的话,日积月累,很可能一触即发(2)这两家公司的谈判进行得非常顺利,双方一拍即合,很快答了合作协议。(3)他这个人简直批评不得,常常是一触即跳。(4)这种伪劣商品根本不耐用,一用即坏。(5)我对"把"字的用法到现在仍不甚了然,往往一用即错。(6)这个足球队真是一触即溃,全场90分钟,一球未进,让对方连连破门,竟以0比5告负。
    – user6065
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 12:42

3 Answers 3


The only difference between 交易就告成立 and 交易即告成立 is that the former is more used in spoken language and the latter in written language. 即 in 交易即告成立 is a very formal word and functions as an adverb, meaning "right away/at once/immediately/thereupon". When 即 is used in this sense, usually it can be replaced with 就. There is no difference between 即 and 就 in their meanings or grammatical roles in this case. Another example:

It took the police only several days to break the case. 该案仅几天即告破/该案仅几天就告破(了).

When used in some idioms, for example, 一触即发, 一拍即合, 稍纵即逝, 即 can't be replaced with 就, though 即 still means "right away/at once/immediately/thereupon" in these words.

As for CIS即视觉识别系统, 即 is a conjunction here. In the construction A即B, 即 roughly means "namely/is also called/equals". B explains or rephrases A. It's not the same with 交易即告成立. 就 can't mean "namely/is also called/equals", so it can't be used in place of 即 in this case.

Your native friend may simply base his/her answer on intuition. If you need an exhaustive explanation, you'd better refer to some Chinese grammar books. @user6065 gave a good reference book 汉语800虚词用法词典.


I beg to differ with @wpt's claim that the use of 就 in 交易就告成立 is a misuse influenced by dictionary definition.

Here is the definition of 即 in Contemporary Chinese Dictionary, 6th Edition, page 605.

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⑥<书>[副] 就;便:一触~发 | 招之~来 | 闻过~改。

<书> means this meaning of 即 is usually used in written language. [副] means 即 is used as an adverb.

Here, the dictionary used 就/便 directly as the explanation of 即. That's just because 即, 就, 便 all have the meaning of "right away/at once/immediately/something happens soon after another". Except for some idioms and Chengyu(成语), wherever you use 即 in this sense, you can use 就 or 便 in place of 即. The three words are interchangeable grammatically and semantically. As I just said, the only difference is that 即 is more formal than 就 and 便.

There is a paper on the evolution of 即, 就, 便 from verb to function word (adverb and conjunction). cf. “即”、“便”、“就”虚化过程中的错项移植. With regard to when 就 was first used as adverb, the scholars haven't reached an agreement. The author of this paper believes it's no later than Song dynasty (960-1279).

@wpt claimed that 即告 is a set phrase. My opinion is that 即告 is just a commonly used phrase, not a set phrase. Less Google search results doesn't mean 就告 is a misuse. Greater occurrence of 即告 in formal documentatuions doesn't mean it can't be replaced with 就告 gramatically and semantically.


即 (which is) is a word particle, it can also mean:

即是= equal to ; 立即= immediately ; 即刻= immediately; right this moment

就 (be then) is a word particle, it can also mean:

就算= be considered; 就此 = just like this; 就可以= can then

Both 交易就告成立 and 交易即告成立 suggested the previous sentence has stated "under certain condition"


如無異議 (if there is no objection ) 交易[就]告成立 ( the deal agreement would [then be / be considered] confirmed)

如無異議 (if there is no objection ) 交易[即]告成立 ( the deal agreement would [then be / be immediately] confirmed)


就 and 即 are quite different, and the usual dictionary definition of 即 = 就 is misleading in many cases (but not all).

The most important thing to bear in mind here, I think, is that 就 is most common as a temporal adverb (contrasting with 才). It is a "free morpheme" in the sense that 了 is a free morpheme; within the syntactic limitations that "temporal adverb" imposes, it can be used without restriction. 即 is not a free morpheme. It is literary Chinese, and its use in the Modern Standard Chinese is usually restricted to set phrases such as 可望不可即, 即位, etc.

In your example, 即告 is such a phrase, now used only in legal terminology to mean "immediately take effect". Influenced by the dictionary definition, some do indeed substitute 就 here, but this is a recent "misuse". According to Google's very inaccurate estimates, there are 4000+ instances of 就告成立 found by the mighty google searchbot. These are mostly from books or blogs that are dated after 2000. For 即告成立, there over 250,000 instances, with no such temporal restrictions.

Based on this stark contrast, I don't think that 即告 has yet been superceded by 就告. If you want to use 就 with this sort of legal meaning, consider using the Modern Chinese compound 宣告, instead of just 告 (also classical, not modern). Googling the phrase 就宣告成立 gets 27000+ examples. This is less common than standard legal terminology, but better than the perverse 就告.

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