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zhǐ
adv. only, merely, just
Discussion of 只
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就 and 只 can both mean “only”. Sometimes they are interchangeable. What are their differences?

1. When we direct the meaning of “only” to the object in a sentence, both 就 and 只 can be used. They are interchangeable. For example:
E.g. 1a 他只喝白水,不喝咖啡。 [phr] He only drinks plain boiled water and doesn't drink coffee. = 他就喝白水,不喝咖啡。
E.g. 1b 我就买两件。 [phr] I will only buy two (clothes). = 我只买两件。
白水 is the object of the verb 喝. And 两件 is the object of the verb 买. 就 and 只 are referring to the objects — 白水 and 两件.

2. When we direct the meaning of “only” to the subject in a sentence, we can only use 就 or 只有, and they must appear before the subject. 只 cannot be used.
E.g. 2a 就他认识那位老师,别人都不认识。 [phr] Only he knows that teacher. Nobody else knows (him). = 只有他认识……
E.g. 2b 周六就我们两个人去游泳。 [phr] On Saturday, only the two of us will go swimming. =周六只有我们……
lisaC
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