Posted in English, Portuguese

Já and Ainda

Another one I get wrong from time to time: Vamos a isso!

Translating from this question on Ciberdúvidas: Somos três alunos estrangeiros a estudar na Univ. do Minho. A pergunta é: qual a diferença na utilização de já e de ainda?

1. “Já” “ainda” are adverbs. I usually think of já as meaning “already” and “ainda” as “still”, but já has quite a few other meanings to do with immediacy, so it can be translated as “still” or “now” in some contexts.

a) When a question contains the word “já” and you want to reply in the affirmative, you always use “já” in the reply. If you want to reply in the negative, use “ainda não”.

“Já leste este romance?” (Have you read this book already?)

  • “Sim, já o li.” (“Yes, I’ve already read it”)
  • “Já, sim.”
  • “Já.”
  • “Não, ainda não o li.” (“No, I still haven’t read it”)
  • “Não, ainda não.”
  • “Ainda não.”

b) Likewise, a question that contains “ainda” is answered with “ainda” if it’s positive or “já não” if not
“Ainda vais sair?” (Are you still going to go out?)

  • “Sim, ainda vou.” (Yes, I’m still going to”)
  • “Sim, vou.”
  • “Não, já não vou.” (No, I’m not going any more)
  • “Não, já não.”
  • “Já não.”

2. In plain speech, “ainda” can have the following meanings
a) up to the current time (english: “still”)
“Ele ainda não voltou.”
“Este velho carro ainda participa em corridas.”

b) up to that time (english: “still” again but about something in the past)
“Quando o filho nasceu, ele ainda morava em Lisboa.”

c) One day in the future
“Tu ainda hás-de ser muito feliz.”

d) Precisely, exactly
“Ainda ontem o vi.”

e) Also, furthermore (cf “ainda por cima”)
“Fui jantar, comi muito bem e ainda me diverti com a conversa do Miguel.”

f) Finally
“Tenho de arrumar a casa, ir às compras e, ainda, fazer o jantar.”

g) At least (surprised me but of course, we use “still” in this way in english too: “A meteior is about to strike the earth… still, mustn’t grumble, at least we won’t have to hear any more about Brexit”)
“Ainda se ele marcasse um golo, o dinheiro era bem gasto, mas assim…”

3. “Já” on the other hand, has the following meanings:

a) Now, at the moment
“O menino já sabe ler.”
“O pai já não tem paciência.”

b) Immediately, without delay
“Vou-me já embora.”
“Faz já isso!”

c) Before now, already
“Ele já tinha comido.”
“Eu já tinha visto este filme.”

d) Previously, before that time
“Eu já sabia que isso ia acontecer.”

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Just a data nerd

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