Chinese Words for Always

一直(yī​zhí=straight, continuously) Compared With 总是(zǒngshì=always) and老是(lǎoshi=always) – By Sujanti Djuanda

I. 一直(yī​zhí=straight) can be used to follow the directions.

Example 1:

Go straight ahead about 2 km, turn right.

一直(yīzhí=straight)往前走(wǎng​qián zǒu=to go straight)大概(dàgài=about)两(liǎng=two)公里(gōng​lǐ=km)左右(zuǒ​yòu=about)右拐(yòuguǎi=turn right)。

II.一直(yī​zhí=continuously) is used to express the continuous state that was not repeated. It can be only one period or non-stop period.

Example 1a:

Yesterday she was always (continuously) at home. (one period)

昨天(zuó​tiān=yesterday)她(tā=she)一直(yī​zhí= continuously)在(zài=at)家(jiā=home)。

Compared with Example 1b:

She is always (continuously) at home. (every day – non stop period)

她(tā=she)一直(yīzhí= continuously)在(zài=at)家(jiā=home)。

Compare with Example 1c:

She is always (often) at home. (80% at home – not every day – for normal things)

她(tā=she)总是(zǒng​shì=always -for normal things) 在(zài=at)家(jiā=home)。

Compare with Example 1d:

She is always (often) at home. (80% at home – not every day – for negative or dislike things)

她(tā=she)老是(lǎo​shi=always -for negative things or dislike things) 在(zài=at)家(jiā=home)。

III.一直(yī​zhí=continuously) is used to express feeling.

Example 1a:

Why you always continuously like him? (non stop – every day)


You cannot say:

你(nǐ=you)为什么(wèishénme=why)总是(zǒng​shì=always – for normal things)(or 老是(lǎo​shi=always – for bad things)) 喜欢(xǐhuan=like)他(tā=him)?


总是(zǒngshì=always – for normal things)or 老是(lǎoshi=always –for negative or dislike things) cannot be used with feeling words such as 喜欢(xǐhuan=like).

Compare with Example 1b:

Why you always (continuously) say I like him? (non stop – every day)


Compare with Example 1c:

Why you always (often) say I like him? (80% – not every day)

你(nǐ=you)为什么(wèishénme=why)总是(zǒngshì=always – for normal things)(or 老是(lǎoshi=always – for negative things)) 说(shuō=say)我(wǒ=I)喜欢(xǐhuan=like)他(tā=him)?


总是(zǒngshì)or 老是(lǎoshi) can be used with Verb (not feeling words). If you think, this is a normal thing, use总是(zǒngshì), and vice versa.

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