Já e ainda - quando usa?

Estou com confusão - quando uso cada?

Answering my own question - but still want to know why…

They’re both adverbs. If you’re responding to a statement in the affirmative, use the same adverb. If you’re responding in the negative, use the other.

Já comeste … Já, sim
Ainda estudas… Sim ainda

Já comeste… Não, ainda não
Ainda estudas… Não já não

But why?

I don’t have an actual grammatical explanation. (Já and ainda are always confusing to me too! They have a lot of different meanings depending on the context.) But the way I think about it is that it’s similar to how in English we would say:

Did you already eat? Yes, I ate already. (already —> already)
Are you still studying? Yes, I am still studying. (still —> still)

When you’re saying yes, you use the same word.

But when you’re saying no, you have to throw some different words in there or it sounds weird:

Did you already eat? No, not yet (already —> yet)
(“No, not already” would sound a little weird.)

Are you still studying? No, not anymore. (still —> anymore)
(“No, not still” would sound a little weird.)

Is it true that you would always use the opposite adverb (já vs. ainda) when responding in the negative? Or only in this example? Maybe someone can confirm.

For me, it’s easier to think about these each as separate terms:

ainda = still
ainda não = not yet
= already
já não = no longer/not anymore

…rather than thinking of each one as “ainda” + “não” = still not, etc.

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This is pretty good, Molly! I agree with your explanation and I’m actually not sure that I have anything to add to it. Does this answer your question, @stephencanthony?

By the way, regarding the many uses of “Já”, here’s another topic where this was covered in more detail:
https://forum.practiceportuguese.com/t/ja-english-translation-of-ja-with-examples/

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@Joseph it does - Obrigado @Molly!

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