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从来 is usually translated to "always, at all times, all along, from the past till the present". But it's usually used in the negative sense, which makes it more like "never".

I have been searching for affirmative 从来 examples (which are very hard to find) and I came across this post and it made me wonder if "since always" would be a better translation than "always", since 从来 has the sense "from the past till the present".

Using the forementioned post's example, "I always buy oranges" is somewhat different from "I buy oranges since forever". "I always buy oranges" can be something that's going on just recently, while "I buy oranges since forever" is definetely something going on from a long time ago till now.

So, my question is what do you think about the the following translations:

I always buy oranges. 我总是买橙子。
I buy oranges since forever. 我从来都买橙子。
I always bought oranges (now I don't buy anymore). 我以前总是买橙子。

Thanks.

  • bkrs:从来 always at all times 从以前到现在。[always; all along] 向来, 一向--用在动词或形容词前面, 表示动作、 行为或情况从过去到现在一直是那样 从来如此 never (if used in negative sentence) affirmative/positive use:我从来都是先刷牙后洗脸。 I always brush my teeth first, then wash my face 我从来很喜欢学汉语永远地; 总是 无例外地 一直都是。 如:「他做事总是慢吞吞的。」 always always; invariably – user6065 Jul 5 '18 at 16:48
  • re 总是 see chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/20897/… esp. comments following 4 answers – user6065 Jul 5 '18 at 17:00
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从来 is usually translated to "always, at all times, all along, from the past till the present". But it's usually used in the negative sense, which makes it more like "never".

No, it is '从不' or '从来不' that means 'never'

it made me wonder if "since always" would be a better translation than "always", since 从来 has the sense "from the past till the present".

'since always/ from the beginning' and 'always' basically express the same meaning

'from the beginning' is the literal translation of '从来'

'since always/ forever' is the practical translation of '向来/一向'

'always' is the practical translation of '总是'

So, my question is what do you think about the the following translations:

I always buy oranges. 我总是买橙子。

I buy oranges since forever. 我从来都买橙子。

I always bought oranges (now I don't buy anymore). 我以前总是买橙子。

我(总是)买橙子

我(向来/一向) 都买橙子

我以前总是买橙子

I have been searching for affirmative 从来 examples (which are very hard to find)

Here are some affirmative 从来 examples:

(从来)只有我欺負人

(从来)太陽就由東方升起 = 太陽(向来)就由東方升起

採訪部和編輯部(从来)都是各自獨立 (从来 can replace 向来/一向, but using 向来/一向 is more common in this context)

Edit:

What would be the translation for 我从来都买橙子 then? How is it different from 我总是买橙子?

"我(从来)都买橙子" = " (from the beginning), I have been buying oranges" meaning you have been buying oranges for a long long time, but again, "向来" or "一向" are better word choices.

"我(总是)买橙子" = "I (always) buy orange" (not apple, not pear, just orange)

  • What would be the translation for 我从来都买橙子 then? How is it different from 我总是买橙子? – Enrico Brasil Jul 5 '18 at 17:54
  • 从来:I have always bought oranges, have been buying oranges all along.总是:I am always (invariably) buying (always buy) oranges. – user6065 Jul 5 '18 at 17:59
  • @Ebrico Brasil Please see the edition at the bottom of my post – Tang Ho Jul 5 '18 at 18:11
  • "I've been buying oranges for a long long time" means "I've been buying oranges since forever" to me... hehe – Enrico Brasil Jul 6 '18 at 0:05
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从来: adv. always; at all times; all along, from the past till the present. (Commonly used in negative sense.) It's more or less the same as 向来.

《现代汉语词典》(第五版)对“从来”的解释是:副词,从过去到现在(多用于否定式)。对“向来”的解释是:副词,从来;一向。

This section is just my personal intuition for your reference: I think because 从来 has a very strong meaning of "at all times", we always use it with negative sense to express the "absolutely not" meaning. So if you want to use it in affirmative sense, it will always be a very strong expression as an objective fact. Just like the example @TangHo gave: (从来)太阳就由东方升起。 You can say like this because it is a truth for most people on the earth except for the Poles.

Let's see your words:

I always buy oranges. 我总是买橙子。[Good]

I buy oranges since forever. 我从来都买橙子。 [It's OK. But we normally don't say like this because there must be sometimes you may buy other fruits, right? Are you sure this is the fact? You can use 一直,总是,常常,经常 instead]

I always bought oranges (now I don't buy anymore). 我以前总是买橙子。[Good, or 从前]

Here is a much more professional paper of comparison between 从来 and 向来. https://wenku.baidu.com/view/d3dbe9cd02d276a201292e31.html

  • The 'absolute' sense of 从来 came from ' since the beginning' implies "appeal of antiquity" -- 'Since it has always been like that from ancient time, it must be the absolute truth' – Tang Ho Jul 5 '18 at 18:55
  • 从来 can mean "from time immemorial" – user6065 Jul 5 '18 at 19:00
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    @TangHo You're right. I just want to show them the daily usage and how we think about it as a native speaker. What they need is how to distinguish the tiny differences in their daily lives. – Bruce Huang Jul 5 '18 at 19:04
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In my opinion, the synonym of 从来 is 一直以来,which denotes the same meaning since forever. 一直以来 can be used in both negative and positive sentences, while 从来 is typically used in a negative sentence(there are possible exceptions like examples given in other answers). 从来(+ 不) is pretty much a device to say Never. For example, 从来我就没输过: I've never lost!

Back to your examples:

I buy oranges since forever.

我从来都买橙子 is a bit stilted to my ear, but it's acceptable. 我从来都不买橙子 sounds better, however. I will translate it to 一直以来我买的都是橙子 or 我一直以来买的都是橙子.

Your interpretations for the other two sentences are fine:

I always buy oranges. 我总是买橙子。

I always bought oranges (now I don't buy anymore). 我以前总是买橙子。

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