What is the difference between gleich and nur? Do they both mean just?

For example, consider the translation of "I am coming back in just 2 minutes".

  1. Ich komme nur in 2 Minuten zurück.

  2. Ich komme gleich in 2 Minuten zurück.

  • 11
    Your first example should be Ich komme in nur 2 Minuten zurück (different word order), emphasizing the short period of time before returning. In your second example "gleich" is not necessary, you should choose either a specific time ("in 2 Minuten") or "gleich" to indicate a short period of time.
    – lejonet
    Nov 30, 2013 at 0:34
  • I am tempted to copy @lejonet8's comment into the answer field ;)
    – Carsten S
    Nov 30, 2013 at 13:05

2 Answers 2


Gleich means equal(ly) and, in sense of time, right away

Alle Menschen sind gleich. - All men are equal.

Ich komme gleich. - I'll be right there.

Nur means only.

Ich habe nur 3 Minuten Zeit. - I have only 3 minutes.

Just can mean only so sometimes it translates to nur. I wouldn't know of a case where just translates to gleich.


When exiting a roundabout, my German satnav informs me "Gleich kommt die Ausfahrt", which seems to me to translate as 'the exit comes in a very short time', which pretty much confirms an earlier entry above.

  • 1
    "an earlier entry above"? Do you mean the answer of Emanuel?
    – Iris
    Jan 4, 2016 at 13:55
  • 1
    Corrected: "die Ausfahrt" is a noun and therefore written capitalized in German.
    – Iris
    Jan 4, 2016 at 13:57

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