If you’re learning Chinese, you might have come across two words that both mean “always”: “总是(zǒngshì)” and “一直(yīzhí)”. While these two words share a similar meaning, they are not interchangeable and have distinct differences in usage. Understanding these differences can help you use these words correctly and express yourself more accurately in Chinese.
In this article, we will explore the nuances of “总是(zǒngshì)” and “一直(yīzhí)” and provide examples to help you master them.
1. “一直(yīzhí)” emphasizes a stable or continuous state.
I’ve always liked her.
2. “总是(zǒngshì)” emphasizes a high probability or frequency.
Truth is always in the hands of a few.
3. Here are two examples that show the difference between these two words:
The rain never stopped during the past couple of days.
It has been raining the past few days. (but there were intervals when it didn’t rain).
In most cases, he is right. (This doesn’t exclude the cases where he was wrong).
He has always been right and never wrong.
4. There are two other uses of “一直(yīzhí)” that don’t apply to“总是(zǒngshì)”.
(1) Emphasizing an action never changed direction.
Go straight ahead.
(2) Emphasizing a full 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, and chemistry to foreign language, his grades are all good.
5. “总是(zǒngshì)” has two other uses that cannot be done with “一直(yīzhí)”.
(1) Emphasizing what the final result will be.
时间长了，他总是会理解的。(Shíjiānchángle, tāzǒngshìhuìlǐjiě de.)
In a while, he will always understand.
(2) Emphasizing that no matter what happens, the conclusion is the same.
I always think of a solution when I encounter a problem.
While both “总是(zǒngshì)” and “一直(yīzhí)” can be translated to “always” in English, they have subtle differences in meaning and usage. “一直(yīzhí)” emphasizes a stable or continuous state, while “总是(zǒngshì)” emphasizes a high probability or frequency.
Additionally, each word has unique usages that the other does not have. It is important to use them correctly to convey your intended meaning accurately. By understanding the differences between these two words, Chinese learners can improve their language proficiency and avoid common mistakes in communication.
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.)