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Lesson Plan: The Difference Between Chinese Adverbs 'Cái' and 'Jiù'

written by: Sujanti Djuanda • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 9/13/2013

The usages of Chinese adverbs 才【cái】and 就【jiù】often confuse the Chinese beginners or foreigners when learning Mandarin Chinese grammar. If you are a new teacher, here step-by-step lesson plans for teaching mandarin: how-to teach the differences between them.

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    Overview

    Step-by-step how-to teach the differences between 才【cái】and 就【jiù】:

    1. Explain the meanings and usages of adverbs 才【cái】and 就【jiù】with examples.

    2. Give the similar examples of 才【cái】and 就【jiù】to explain the different meanings, including when 才【cái】is used with 就【jiù】in the sentence and compared with the sentence that only uses 才【cái】.

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    I.Mean and Examples of 才【cái】and 就【jiù】

    a. Chinese adverb才【cái=only, just, not until】is used to express when something happened later than expected.

    Example:

    Yesterday he just went to sleep at 11.30pm.

    Yesterday he only went to sleep at 11.30pm.

    Yesterday he didn’t go to sleep until 11.30pm.

    Subject + Time + cái + Verb

    他【tā=he】 + 昨晚【zuówǎn=yester evening】 十一【shíyī=eleven】 点【diǎn=hour】 半【bàn=half】 + 才【cái=not until, just, only】 + 睡觉【shuìjiào=sleep】。

    他 昨晚 十一 点 半 才 睡觉。

    Here the action has been completed sooner than expected.

    b. 就【jiù=already】is used to express when something happened earlier than expected.

    Example:

    Yesterday he already slept at 8.00pm.

    Subject + Time + 就【jiù】+ Verb + 了【le】

    他【tā=he】 + 昨晚【zuówǎn=yester evening】 8【bā】点【diǎn=o’clock】 + 就【jiù=already】 + 睡觉【shuìjiào=sleep】 + 了【le】。

    他 昨晚 8点 就 睡觉 了。

    Here the action has been completed earlier than expected.

    c. 才【cái】can be used with 就【jiù】in the sentence. Here 才【cái=just, only】is placed before Time and the meaning is “it’s early".

    Example:

    It’s only 5.30am now, she already went to work.

    Adverb of Time + 才【cái+ Time + Subject + 就【jiù+ Verb + 了【le

    现在【xiànzài=now】+ 才【cái=only】 + 五【wǔ=five】 点【diǎn=hour】 半【bàn=half】,+ 她【tā=she】+ 就【jiù=already】+ 上班【shàngbān=go to work】 + 了【le】。

    现在 五 点 半,她 上班 了。

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    II.Similar examples of Chinese adverbs才【cái】and 就【jiù】 and explanaiont of the different meanings.

    a. The similar examples of 才【cái】and 就【jiù】

    Example 1: (later than expected)

    He just came at 7 o’clock.

    He only came at 7 o’clock.

    He didn’t come until at 7 o’clock.

    他【tā=he】 7【qī】 点【diǎn=o’clock】 才【cái=only, just, not until】 来【lái=come】。

    他 7点 才 来。

    Example 2: (earlier than expected)

    He already came at 7 o’clock.

    他【tā=he】 7【qī】 点【diǎn=o’clock】 就【jiù=already】 来【lái=come】 了【le】。

    他 7 点 就 来 了。

    b. The similar examples of 才【cái】and 就【jiù】

    Example 1: (later than expected)

    Today younger sister just got in to school at 9.45am.

    妹妹【mèimèi=younger sister】今天【jīntiān=today】 上午【shàngwǔ=morning】9【jiǔ】 点 【diǎn=hour】 45【sìshíwǔ】 分【fēn=minute】 才【cái】 到【dào=arrive】 学校【xuéxiào=school】。

    妹妹 今天 上午 9 点45分 才 到 学校。

    Example 2: (earlier than expected)

    Younger sister already got in to the school at 6 o'clock this morning.

    妹妹【mèimèi=younger sister】今天【jīntiān=today】 上午【shàngwǔ=morning】 6【liù】 点【diǎn=o’clock】 就【jiù=already】 到【dào=arrive】 学校【xuéxiào=school】 了【le】。

    妹妹 今天 上午 6 点 就 到 学校 了。

    When 就【jiù】is used, 了【le】is often needed at the end of sentence to convey a sense of completion whereas 才【cái】does not.

    Example 1:

    他 7 点 来。

    他 7 点

    Example 2:

    妹妹 今天 上午 6 点 到 学校

    妹妹 今天 上午 9点 到 学校。

    c. The similar examples of Chinese adverbs才【cái】and 就【jiù】when 才【cái】is used with 就【jiù】in the sentence and compared with the sentence that only uses Chinese adverb才【cái】.

    Example 1:

    He has only studied a half year of English, but he already speaks very well.

    他【tā=he】 【cái=only, just】 学【xué=study】 了【le】 半【bàn=half】 年【nián=year】 英文【yīngwén=English】, 【jiù=already】 已经【yǐjīng=already】 说【shuō=say】得【de】 很好【hěnhǎo=very good】了【le】。

    学 了 半 年 英文, 已经 说 得 很好了。

    Example 2:

    He has studied English for ten years, but he only can speak several words.

    他【tā=he】 学【xué=study】 了【le】 十【shí=ten】 年【nián=year】 英文【yīngwén=English】, 但是【dànshì=but】 他【tā=he】 【cái=only, just】会【huì=able, can】说【shuō=speak】 几【jǐ=several】 句【jù=a measure word for sentences】 话【huà=word】。

    他 学 了 十 年 英文,但是 他 会 说 几句话。

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