There are two ways to say “always” in Chinese, and these are the words “总是(zǒngshì)” and “一直(yīzhí)”. Both “总是(zǒngshì)” and “一直(yīzhí)” share the meaning of “always”, but people sometimes mistakenly use both interchangeably. One should be aware that there also are differences between them:
1. “一直(yīzhí)” emphasises a stable or continuous state. For example
I’ve always liked her.
2. “总是(zǒngshì)” emphases a high probability or frequency. For example:
Truth is always in the hands of a few.
3. You can see the differences in meaning between these two words in these two pairs of examples:
The rain never stopped during these couple of days.
It has been raining these days, but there were intervals(when it didn’t rain) .
In most cases, he is right.(It doesn’t exclude the cases in which he was wrong).
He has always been right and never wrong.
4. “一直(yīzhí)” has two other usages which “总是(zǒngshì)” doesn’t have。
(1) Emphasize the action never changed along a direction.
Go straight ahead.
(2) Emphasize a connected scope of reference.
从数学、物理、化学一直到外语，他的成绩都不错。(Cóngshùxué, wùlǐ, huàxuéyīzhídàowàiyǔ, tā de chéngjīdōubùcuò.)From mathematics, physics, chemistry to foreign language, his grades are good.
5. “总是(zǒngshì)” has two other usages which “一直(yīzhí)” doesn’t have.
(1) Emphasize that the final result will be so.
时间长了，他总是会理解的。(Shíjiānchángle, tāzǒngshìhuìlǐjiě de.)
In a long time, he will always understand
(2) Emphasize that no matter what happens, the conclusion is the same.
I always think of the problem.
Now, let’s do some exercises.Fill in the blankets.
- ________ 向前走就到我家了。(________ Xiàngqiánzǒujiùdàowǒjiāle.)
- 从老师_______到同学，都很关心他。(Cónglǎoshī____dàotóngxué, dōuhěnguānxīntā.)
- 他_______第一个到办公室。(Tā____dì yī gè dào bàngōngshì.)
- 你不能_______迟到。(Nǐ bùnéng_______chídào.)