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立刻
lì kè
adv. at once, immediately
Discussion of 立刻
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In this post, we compare two adverbs: 马上 and 立刻. They seem to have the same meaning. They both indicate things will happen soon. But is there any difference?
The answer is yes.
立刻 indicates that something happens very fast right after an action or event (E.g.1), or that something is going to happen right away (E.g.2) at the time of speaking. It emphasises the short time. For example:
E.g. 1 地震发生后,军队立刻前去救灾。 [phr] Right after the earthquake, the army rushed there to rescue the victims.
E.g. 2 只要你同意,我就立刻过去。 [phr] As long as you agree, I'll go there right away.
马上 also indicates a short time, however, this “short” time is a relative concept. It may vary from person to person. It’s a subjective idea. Some people think that is a short time, while some others may think it is not that short. Therefore, when we use 马上, we might be talking about a few days, or several dozens days. For example:
E.g. 3 马上要考试了,她看起来很焦虑。 [phr] The exam is coming soon and she seems very anxious.
E.g. 4 不知不觉四年过去了,我们马上就要毕业了。 [phr] Four years passed without us realizing it, we are going to graduate soon.
In E.g. 4, it’s very like that “we” are going to graduate in two to three months, instead of in a few minutes at the time of speaking. In E.g. 3, we could be talking about a week or a few minutes. It depends on the speaker and the context of the conversation.
lisaC
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In this post we discuss the difference between 立刻 and 赶紧

1. 立刻 is used in written Chinese. It indicates that something happens very fast right after an action or event (1a), or that something is going to happen right away at the time of speaking (1b). It emphasizes the short time. The subject of 立刻 is not necessarily a person (1c).
E.g.1a 地震发生后,军队立刻前去救灾。 [phr] Right after the earthquake, the army rushed there to rescue the victims.
E.g.1b 只要你同意,我就立刻过去。 [phr] As long as you agree, I'll go there right away.
E.g.1c 若机舱内有人吸烟,报警器会立刻响起。 [phr] If someone smokes in the cabin of the plane, the alarm will sound off right away.


赶紧 is more informal. We use 赶紧 in spoken Chinese a lot. It can be used on something that has happened (1d) or something that is going to happen at the time of speaking (1e). It emphasizes “wasting no time”. The subject of 赶紧 has to be a person. In 1c, we cannot use 赶紧 to replace 立刻.
E.g. 1d 他听说自己犯了法,就赶紧逃走了。 [phr] He fled immediately on hearing that he broke the law.
E.g. 1e 别再罗唆了,赶紧工作吧。 [phr] Stop your prolixity and get to work at once.

2. Both 立刻 and 赶紧 can be used in imperative sentences. When 立刻 is used to urge someone to do something right away, the tone adopted by the speaker is considered very strong. It usually comes out as an order. 赶紧 does not take on such a tone. In 2a, when we use 立刻, it sounds firm and strong and it is an order. If we use 赶紧 instead, it’s just an urge, not as strong as an order.
E.g. 2a 请立刻结清逾期款项。 [phr] Please settle the overdue payments immediately.

3. 赶紧 can be used independently, indicating urging. 立刻 cannot be used in this way. In 3a, 赶紧 is used alone. In this example sentence, we cannot use 立刻 instead.
E.g.3a. 赶紧, 飞机就要起飞了! [phr] Hurry up, the plane will take off soon!
lisaC
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