One of the most common adverbs of time is já, which at its core means “in this moment”. Like all other adverbs of time, já is always invariable. This is an adverb used very frequently in a lot of different situations. You’ll notice that the meaning can change quite a bit depending on the context, so try to focus more on the general influence it has on a phrase, rather than memorizing an exact translation. Let’s have a look at some of the various uses of já:
Já as Already
Perhaps the main use of já, and the most straightforward one, is when it is equivalent to the English “already”.
Ufa, já estou cansado. Phew, I’m already tired.
Já comeste? Have you already eaten?
Já estamos na estação. We’re at the station already.
Já as Now
Já as Right Away
Já is also commonly used to express something you’re just about to do in a few seconds, the equivalent to “right away”, “in a moment”, or “momentarily”.
Volto já. I’ll be right back.
Vou já tratar disso I’ll take care of that in a moment.
Já as Once
A bit counter intuitively, já can also be used to refer to the past, similar to the English word “once”. In some cases, this use of já in Portuguese is represented by the verb tense in English.
Londres já foi uma pequena cidade. London was once a small town.
Já fui ao Brasil. I’ve been to Brazil.
Já não is more or less akin to “not anymore”, “no more”, “no longer” in English, depending on the context.
Desculpe, mas hoje já não temos pão. I’m sorry, but we have no more bread today.
Já não oferecemos esse serviço. We no longer offer that service.