Lesson 2 from Online BLCU Chinese Teacher Angela: 就jiù and 才cái

Online BLCU Chinese Teacher Angela’s second lesson for you: the difference between ”jiù”就 and ”cái”才. 

A lot of people get confused when they learn how to use these two words: 就 and才. And it’s understandable, so let’s see what useful tips Angela can give you: 

Early or late? (the difference between jiù and cái)

You think the party that starts at 7:00 is too early? I think it starts too late!

One of my students asked me what the difference is between”jiù”and ”cái”when they are used after a time word.

This is a good question!

We use”jiù” to show that an action happens or will happen earlier than expected, and we use ”cái” to show an action happens or will happen later than expected.

Let’s see the two sentences.

Wǎnhuì qī diǎn jiù kāishǐ le!


Wǎnhuì qī diǎn cái kāshǐ.


”Jiù” is used to show something happens or will happen earlier than expected. And there is often a “le” at the end of the sentence.

jiu The structure is

“time word + jiù + V +O+ le”

So, 晚会7点就开始了!means “The party started as early as 7:00.”


The word “jiù” shows that the party started earlier than the speaker expected.

才 “cái” is used after a time word and before a verb to emphasizes that the action happens or will happen later than expected.

The structure iscai

“time word + cái + V + O”

晚会7点才开始!means “The party won’t begin until 700.” The word “cái” shows that the party started late than the speaker expected.

Qīn’ài de, wǒ jīntiān wǔ diǎn jiù xiàbān le. wǒmen qù kàn diànyǐng, hǎo ma?


Dear, I already got off work as early as 5:00. Let’s go watch a movie together, Ok?

Diànyǐng yǐjīng kāishǐ le, nǐ zěnme xiànzài cái lái?


The movie has already started. Why didn’t you arrive until now?

duìbuqǐ, wǒ wǔ diǎn jiù chūmén le, kěshì lù shàng dǔchē.


Sorry. I left at 5:00, but there was a traffic jam on the way.

blcu teacherNow can you leave a message and tell me what you should say when your Chinese friend is late for your appointment?

If you are interested in BLCU Online course, you can apply here. If you have questions, you can contact us at apply@china-admissions.com or you canapply for Chinese Universities

Shynar from Kazakhstan, studied at Beijing Language and Culture University.
Shynar Shinibekova

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