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光写这份提纲,就花了我一个月的时间。

It took me a month to write this outline. (this translation has been made by deepL).

I can completely link the sentences of deepL and 写这份提纲,花了我一个月的时间(removed 光 and 就)。

I want to know the meanings of 光 and 就 which are used in the original sentence.

4 Answers 4

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写这份提纲,花了我一个月的时间。
Merely writing this part of the outline, I spent a month of time.
Writing this part of this outline alone cost me one month.

The here means "merely" or "only", or even "alone" in the sense of "this one task alone..." (not in the sense of "without other people"), and it can usually be replaced by . The 就 adds emphasis, and serves as a grammar particle and balances the flow and emphasis of the sentence, as it often does.

The given sentence emphasizes how this small part of the total task alone required a considerable amount of time, so you can expect the whole task to take an incredible amount of time.

Let's check some comparable sentences generated by ChatGLM (my translations):

准备这个演讲,花了我一个星期的时间。 (Merely preparing for this speech, I spent a week of time.)
听声音,我觉得她很温柔。 (From listening to her voice alone, I feel she is very gentle.)
吃零食,会让人发胖。 (Only eating junk food, makes people fat.)
动脑,会想出好主意。 (If [sb.] just thinks about it, [they'll] come up with a good idea.)

Now there's a fair amount of flexibility with the grammar here, such as we can add 是:

光是想到工作,我充满动力。 (Merely thinking about work, fills me with motivation. [It seems the AI has a strong work ethic.])
光是看到那幅画,我感受到了艺术的魅力。 (From only seeing that painting, I felt the beauty of art.)

Or we could use 仅 or 仅仅 instead:

仅仅策划这个项目,耗费了我三个月的精力。 (On merely planning this project, I spent three months of energy.)
凭这一点,我可以判断他是一个负责任的人。 (Only relying on this point, I can deduce that he is a responsible person.)

The AI also gave alternatives to using the grammar structure, such as:

为了完成这篇论文,我花了整整两个月的时间进行研究。 (In order to finish this paper, I spent two full month of time conducting research.)

If you want to get the AI to generate more examples, I suggest the following prompt: 写一些和“光写这份提纲,就花了我一个月的时间”这个句子有关的、语法相似的句子。

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光 and 就 are for semantic, emotional emphasis.

写这份提纲,花了我一个月的时间 works, but the underlying emotional frustration, annoyance is missing.

In English, it'll be "Writing this outline took me a month" and "Merely writing this outline already took me a month"

See the difference? The former is emotionally neutral while in the latter the underlying emotional annoyance, frustration is conveyed?

So, 光 is used like "Merely" or "Just" and 就 is used like "Already"

You could get the same idea if you substitute 只是 for 光, and 已经 for 就.

Thus 只是写这份提纲,已经花了我一个月的时间。

Finally a word on why the word 光?

This word, like many others have multifarious meanings, ranging from "light", "bright" to "bare", to "smooth" or "polished" or even "naked", (as in 脱光)

But the underlying idea in our context is the element of "not much", or "nothing very much", i.e. "barely"

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Both are emphatical words. "光"(= 单/只) means "only/merely"; "就" emphasizes/exaggerates the effort required. Let's compare the two sentences:

  • 写这份提纲,花了我一个月的时间. This is a simple statement that can be translated to "I spent a month writing this outline."

  • 光写这份提纲,就花了我一个月的时间 - This sentence exaggerates the time spent to produce something that is deemed out of proportion with the effort - "Only the outline, it already took/caused me a month to write."

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I would translate 光 as just here. I also think the sentence could be better.

光是 ... 就 work together

光是写这份提纲,我花了一个月的时间。
I spent one month just writing this outline.

或者

光是写这份提纲,花了一个月时间。
Just writing this outline cost me a month.

有一些房间,光是墙纸花了四万英镑。这太疯狂了。
In some rooms, the wallpaper alone costs 40 thousand pounds. It's crazy!

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