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Hi, everybody! Welcome to Chinese whiteboard lessons. I'm Yinru. Today, we're going to compare two words that can both mean “just now”. They are 刚 (gāng) and 刚才 (gāngcaí), just one word difference, one has this 才 (caí) and one doesn't. So how do we tell them apart?
Before we start, I'd like to point out their different categories or their different parts of speech or we can say their word classes are different. For 刚 (gāng), it’s an adverb which is used to describe verbs or actions. 刚才 (Gāngcaí) is a noun. It's just like other noun phrase like 昨天 (zuótiān) “yesterday”, 现在 (xiànzài) “now” or “next week” 下个星期 (xià gè xīngqī). It’s a noun that's used to describe time being just now. Because they are different word classes, we put them in different parts of a sentence. For 刚 (gāng), it's an adverb so we put it in front of, or before a verb or a verb plus object. So we have subject, 刚 (gāng) and then verb.
For example…
我刚到。 (Wǒ gāng dào.)
Very simple, very clear, 我 (wǒ) being the subject and 刚 (gāng), 到 (dào). 到 (dào) is a verb meaning “get here / arrive”.
“I just arrived / I just got here”; subject, 刚 (gāng), verb.
And second one…
Still, subject, 刚 (gāng), and it's a verb phrase 吃完饭 (chī wán fàn) means “finished eating”.
“I just finished eating.” That's where you want to put 刚 (gāng).
And for 刚才 (gāngcaí), because it's a noun, it's a time phrase or it's a time noun, you can either put it after the subject or before the subject.
So - 我刚才吃过了 (Wǒ gāngcái chīguòle), 吃过了 (chīguòle) means “have eaten or ate”. “I just now ate.” Subject, 刚才 (gāngcaí), and verb.
Or we can switch them. We can say - 刚才我吃过了 (Gāngcái wǒ chīguòle). 这样也可以 (Zhèyàng yě kěyǐ), this also works.
Here, 刚才 (gāngcaí) is before the subject.
刚才我去找你了。 (Gāngcái wǒ qù zhǎo nǐle.) “Just now, I went to look for you.”
Or you can say - 我刚才去找你了。 (Wǒ gāngcái qù zhǎo nǐle.) “I went to look for you just now.”
刚才 (Gāngcaí) can be before or after the subject.
So that's the difference in the sentence order. The second difference lies in their emphasis on the meaning. Because 刚 (gāng) is an adverb, it emphasizes on a degree. It cannot only be used to refer on to time, but also can be used to refer to the size, the amount, just being just right or something just fits. Let's look at some examples.
The first one…
我刚出门就下雨了。刚出门。 (Wǒ gāng chūmén jiù xià yǔle. Gāng chūmén.) “Just as I got outside, it started raining.”
So the first one still is used in in time. “I just got outside, it started raining.”
The second one, let's see what it means…
这个房间刚能放下我的书桌。 (Zhège fángjiān gāng néng fàngxià wǒ de shūzhuō.) 这个房间 (Zhège fángjiān) “This room”, 刚 (gāng), 能放下我的书桌 (néng fàngxià wǒ de shūzhuō) means can put in my desk.
So the whole sentence means “This room can just fit my desk / I can just put my desk in this room / This room is just big enough for my desk.”.
So it means the room just fits or my desk just fits in this room.
第三个, (Dì sān gè,)
她刚过分数线。 (Tā gāngguò fēn shù xiàn.) 分数线 (fēn shù xiàn), 分数 (fēn shù) is “score” and 线 (xiàn) is a “line” so that’s the passing line. She just passed that line, just passed that line. It's a degree. Her score is just enough to pass the line. So this is 刚 (gāng).
Whereas 刚才 (gāngcaí), 刚才 (gāngcaí) it’s a noun and it means “moments ago / just now” so it emphasizes on the time being just a little bit, a little while ago.
So we have - 我刚才检查过了 (Wǒ gāngcái jiǎncháguòle). 检查过了 (jiǎncháguòle) means “I have checked.”. So “Just now I have checked / I checked just now.”. So it's the time being a little bit ago, 我刚才检查过了 (Wǒ gāngcái jiǎncháguòle).
The second one…
刚才 (Gāngcaí) “Just now”, 张总来过我们办公室 (Zhāng zǒng láiguò wǒmen bàngōngshì). 张总 (Zhāng zǒng) is the subject. Here - 总 (zǒng), 总 (zǒng) it’s something you use a lot in the business field. You put 总 (zǒng) meaning “general” after a person's family name. So 总 (zǒng) can be used to call your CEO or your manager or the head of the department. Anybody who's in charge can be 总 (zǒng). 张总 (Zhāng zǒng) is Mr. Zhang or Manager Zhang or Mrs. Zhang.
“He has come to our office just now.” 刚才张总来过我们办公室。 (Gāngcaí Zhāng zǒng láiguò wǒmen bàngōngshì.)
第三个, (Dì sān gè,)
你们刚才去哪了? (Nǐmen gāngcái qù nǎle?)
去哪了 (qù nǎle) “Where did you guys go just now?”
刚才去哪了 (gāngcái qù nǎle). So the noun, 刚才 (gāngcaí) emphasized on the time being a little while ago.
Okay, the next part I like to point out, a very commonly used sentence pattern, which is…
刚什么什么就什么什么 (gāng shénme shénme jiù shénme shénme). It means as soon as something happens, another thing happens. So when 刚 (gāng) and 就 (jiù) go together and they often go together, it means “as soon as”.
Example…
你刚到,他就走了。 (Nǐ gāng dào, tā jiù zǒule.) “You just arrived, he left.” So as soon as you arrived, he left - 刚……就 (gāng...jiù).
And second one…
我刚把包放下,电话就响了。 (Wǒ gāng bǎ bāo fàngxià, diànhuà jiù xiǎngle.) 把包放下 (bǎ bāo fàngxià) “Put down my bag.”. “As soon as I put down my bag, the phone rang.”
Okay, the next one…
我们刚学完这个句型,你就忘了。 (Wǒmen gāng xué wán zhège jù xíng, nǐ jiù wàngle.) 学完这个句型,句型 (jù xíng) like this is a 句型 (jù xíng), a sentence pattern. “As soon as we're finished to learning this sentence pattern, you forgot.” That is not something I want to hear. So please everybody, remember this 句型 (jù xíng), 刚什么什么就什么什么 (gāng shénme shénme jiù shénme shénme).
So these are the differences between 刚 (gāng) and 刚才 (gāngcaí). Now let's look at more examples in the quiz section. Would you use 刚 (gāng) or 刚才 (gāngcaí)?
什么 (shénme) or 空格 (kònggé), 空格 (kònggé) means blank space, 空格,你说什么 (kònggé, nǐ shuō shénme). 你 (nǐ) is the subject and this blank is before the subject. We can't use 刚 (gāng) because 刚 (gāng) goes after subject so we use 刚才 (gāngcaí).
刚才你说什么? (Gāngcaí nǐ shuō shénme?) “What did you say? / What did you just say? / What were you saying?”
It's a very common phrase in everyday language. You will use it a lot. 你刚才说什么? (Nǐ gāngcaí shuō shénme?).
第二个,我什么想给打电话,就碰见你了。 (Dì èr gè, wǒ shénme xiǎng gěi dǎ diànhuà, jiù pèngjiàn nǐle.) 想给你打电话 (xiǎng gěi dǎ diànhuà) “....wanted to call you and then I ran into you.”, and here is 就 (jiù).
刚什么什么就什么什么 (gāng shénme shénme jiù shénme shénme), they go together.
So - 我刚想给你打电话,就碰见你了。 (Wǒ gāng xiǎng gěi dǎ diànhuà, jiù pèngjiàn nǐle.) “I was just thinking about calling you and then I ran into you.”
So 刚 (gāng) works better here.
The next sentence is also about calling.
什么我给你打电话了。 (Shénme wǒ gěi nǐ dǎ diànhuàle.) So subject and before the subject is the blank. So 刚才 (gāngcaí) can go before a subject.
This means “I called you just now.”
Okay, this 第四个 (dì sì gè) is a conversation. 是一段对话 (shì yīduàn duìhuà) is a dialogue.
A says - A说,你什么时候到的 (A shuō, nǐ shénme shíhòu dào de) and B说,我什么到不久 (B shuō, wǒ shénme dào bùjiǔ).
Okay, 到 (dào) “get here” and 不久 (bùjiǔ) “not too long ago”. So A says - “When did you get here?” and B says - “I just got here not too long ago.”.
Well, would you use 刚 (gāng) or 刚才 (gāngcaí)?
Here I would tell you that 刚 (gāng) works better here because - 刚到不久 (gāng dào bùjiǔ) is a phrase that's almost like an idiom. You say - 刚到不久 (gāng dào bùjiǔ) instead of 刚才到不久 (gāngcái dào bùjiǔ). It says - 刚才 (gāngcái). We don’t say 刚才到不久 (gāngcái dào bùjiǔ). 刚到不久 (gāng dào bùjiǔ), you can remember this as a phrase or as an idiom.
刚到不久 (gāng dào bùjiǔ) “...got here not too long ago.”
If you want to use 刚才 (gāngcaí) here, you can say - 我刚才到的 (wǒ gāngcái dào de), 我刚才到的 (wǒ gāngcái dào de) and 我刚到不久 (wǒ gāng dào bùjiǔ). All right, this is something you can memorize. You want to memorize this - 我刚到不久 (wǒ gāng dào bùjiǔ) “I got here not too long ago.”
The fifth one…
刚才还什么合适,现在怎么就多了两个? (Gāngcái hái shénme héshì, xiànzài zěnme jiù duōle liǎng gè?) We see two time nouns here. One is 刚才 (gāngcaí) and the other one is 现在 (xiànzài), just now and now. And here - 合适 (héshì) means “fits” and here - 怎么就多了两个 (zěnme jiù duōle liǎng gè) “How come there's two more?”.
So - “Just now, it worked or it fit just now but how come there's two more?”.
刚合适 (gāng héshì) meaning “It fits just right.
“Just now it was the right number, how come now there's two more?”
So that's the end of our lesson, the difference between 刚 (gāng) and 刚才 (gāngcaí). If you have more questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I'll try to answer them. So I will see you in the next lesson. 我们下期课再见吧。 (Wǒmen xiàqī kè zàijiàn ba.) Bye-bye.

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ChineseClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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ChineseClass101.com Verified
Monday at 05:46 PM
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Hello Michael,


Thank you for your comment. 我刚到了 sounds unnatural, but in oral Chinese you'll still be understood. 了 cannot be used at the end of a sentence if there's a 刚 in it.


Hope it helps, let us know if you have any questions.


Ngai Lam

Team ChineseClass101.com

Michael
Saturday at 10:35 PM
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I have a question regarding the first example:

我刚到。


Would it be considered it wrong/awkward if I added 了 after 到 ?

刚 means "just" so it already indicates a change in the situation, but If I would translate "I just arrived" then I would automatically say "我刚到了“ .


谢谢你的帮助

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Saturday at 04:48 PM
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你好 robert groulx!


不用谢。(Bú yòng xiè.) = No need for thanks. You're welcome. 😇

谢谢 (Xièxie) for studying with us, it's great to have you here!

Let us know if you have any questions.


Kind regards,

雷文特 (Levente)

Team ChineseClass101.com

robert groulx
Friday at 10:29 PM
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thanks for the lesson


my favorite words are 我刚到不久


robert

ChineseClass101.com
Thursday at 07:33 PM
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Hello Tais,


你好!刚 and 只 are not the same, 刚 means 'just' and 只 means 'only'.


刚才你试一试些衣服。你喜欢什么? => 刚才你试了这些衣服。你喜欢哪一件?

我刚有一本书。=> 我只有一本书。(只有 only have)

刚我到家,就我开始学习中文。=> 我刚到家,就开始学习中文了。


Let us know if you have any questions.


Ngai Lam

Team ChineseClass101.com

Tais
Wednesday at 01:40 AM
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老师, 谢谢这个课。我觉得真的很难 😞 I only got 1 question right on the quiz 😭 我写一些句子。你可以检查我的句子吗? (can you check my sentences?)


刚才你试一试些衣服。你喜欢什么? (Just now, you were trying some clothes. Which one do you like?)

我刚有一本书。(I only have one book)

刚我到家,就我开始学习中文。 (As soon as I arrive at home, I start studying Chinese).


It seems like 刚 can be used in the same way as 只?


Anyway, 谢谢,老师!

ChineseClass101.com
Wednesday at 12:04 AM
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Hello Marina,


Thank you for your comment.


'刚才还____合适,现在怎么就多了两个' means 'A moment ago it was ____ right, how come there are two more now.'


As always, let us know if you have any questions.


Ngai Lam

Team ChineseClass101.com


Marina
Sunday at 08:43 PM
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Dear 老师, I cannot understand the meaning of the sentence: 刚才还____合适,现在怎么就多了两个.

Please explain it.