Don't they all mean "always"? I would be grateful if you could provide example sentences.

  • 从来 should be added into the group, I believe!
    – Blaszard
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 18:08

4 Answers 4


They do all carry the "always" meaning, but each provide different finer details.

  • 向来 = always; (since the beginning)
  • 一直 = always; (have been continuously)
  • 总是 = always; (unexceptionally /universally)


向來沒有加班費 "without overtime pay since the beginning."

一直沒有加班費 "have been continuously without overtime pay."

總是沒有加班費 "unexceptionally without overtime pay ."

  • The question that was asked is "all three words can be translated to "always" , what is the difference?" A simple answer point out the difference between them, when they're acting in " always " function. should be enough. To list detailed usage of each term on their own, like giving a class lesson is too broad an answer.
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 20:40
  • the first 3 comments are all devoted to comparing 一直 and 总是 (b/c usage may be confused, not discussing them on their own). As the authors of "实用汉语近义虚词词典" must have felt, the meaning of 向来 is sufficiently different, hard to confuse with 一直 and 总是, so it was not included, similarly 永远, "always" could hardly be confused with 一直,总是
    – user6065
    Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 20:18
  • How about 从来...?
    – Blaszard
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 18:09

向来, has always been like this ( continuation in terms of time) "It has always been like this that we don't get paid for doing voluntary work."

一直, always ( either in terms of frequency or time) "He is always happy"

总是 always (in terms of frequency only). "All religious stuff aside, the fact is, people who can't kill will always be subject to those who can."


"总是" means "all the time",

“一直” means "always".

"向来" means it always like that, since the beginning. and "向来" always used in this phrase pattern:

"向来"... "都"

Learn more Chinese grammer here: http://www.hanbridgemandarin.com/course/chinese-language-course/chinese-grammar


向來 is from the beginning until now. It can also means "it's always been like this" Ex. 我向來不吃魚。I never ate fish. 陳先生向來不打電話。Mr. Chen never calls. 他向來工作很認真。He's always doing his work diligently.

一直 Means doing something continuously or endlessly. Ex. 他一直打我。He keeps beating me.

總是 also means always, but often used to imply something negative. Note that it can also be used for positive sentences also. Ex. 他總是不理我。He never gave me attention. 你為什麼總是遲到?Why are you always late?

他做事總是有始有終。He always finishes what he starts.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.