How do you say “Once a [noun], always a [noun]” in Chinese?

For example : “Once a loser, always a loser” or “Once a flirt, always a flirt”

I have tried to look for it online and found some patterns but I’m not sure if they are correct.

Here they are :



Update : I found other patterns, but again, not sure whether they are correct :


一旦..., 就永无止境。



Are these patterns correct? If not, how do Chinese people usually say it?

Thank you!

  • 1
    I am not quite sure about the meanings of that quote. Most importantly, what is the logic behind once and always? – Toosky Hierot Sep 15 '19 at 19:07
  • Hmm, I don’t know how to explain it. Maybe it has something to do with “labelling”. For example your girlfriend/boyfriend caught you cheating on them, she/he forgives you but then caught you cheating on them again for the second time, thus saying (labelling you) : “Once a cheater, always a cheater” even though you probably won’t do it thrice. – Agnes Sep 16 '19 at 5:38
  • 1
    There is a well known saying in Chinese: 一日为师, 终生为父. There is a line in the movie Kung-fu Hustle by Stephen Chow similar to the sentence pattern: 你一天是兔子, 就一辈子是兔子. – 賈可 Jacky Sep 16 '19 at 5:44
  • 1
    Other example in modern Chinese, like 一次付费, 终身使用 or 一次付费, 终身享受, etc. – 賈可 Jacky Sep 16 '19 at 5:51
  1. [Once an X, always an X] is the short form of [once (become) an X, (will) always (be) an X]

"X" in this structure is a stigma or branding that cannot be removed from you. For example: "once a murderer, always a murderer"

The label "murderer" cannot be removed from someone who committed murder. This label will be attached to him forever, because "murderer" is permanent label, you can never un-murder someone. The same goes to the label "liar". Once you are caught lying, the fact that you lied cannot be erased.

In Chinese, it is translated as "一旦成為殺人犯,一生也是殺人犯" (once someone became a murderer, the status of murderer can never be removed from him)

you can replace "一生" with "終生" or "永遠"

  1. [Once a Y, always a Y] is the short form of [once (become) a Y, (will) always (be) a Y]

"Y" in this structure is a nature or attributes that cannot be taken away from you. For example: "once a soldier, always a soldier"

Technically, when someone retired from the armed forces, he would no longed be considered a soldier, however, the attributes of a soldier will always be in him. "Once a soldier, always a soldier" is not a literal but a figurative phrase (I am no longer a soldier, but the heart of a soldier is still in me).

In Chinese, it is translated as "一日身為士兵,一生也是士兵" (Even being a soldier for one day, the attributes of a soldier will never be taken away from me)

you can replace "一生" with "終生" or "永遠"

  • Thank you so much!!! ☺️🙏 – Agnes Sep 16 '19 at 14:20

what i can think of are:

烂泥扶不上墙 (Sludge can't help the wall)

一日为师,终生为父 (One day is the teacher, the life is the father.)

一日为贼,终生为贼(One day is a thief, and life is a thief.)

Translation is by google translate.:)

I can add more when I can think of anything else.

  • Thank you so muchhhh ☺️ – Agnes Sep 16 '19 at 14:22

最开始的翻译比较恰当。比较像中国的slang. 作为中国人很高兴看到有人在学汉语,加油!

  • 我也很高兴能学汉语 🥺🙏🙏🙏 – Agnes Sep 16 '19 at 14:21

I think, if you translated, "Once a loser, always a loser" you would have Chinese words, but not Chinese. You need the sense, not the words.


comes close.


You could look here for similar phrases.

  • Thank you so much!!! I’m still getting used to how Chinese people usually express things 😂 it’s hard to get the sense sometimes, considering I’m still a beginner. – Agnes Sep 16 '19 at 14:20
  • Tell me about it! I am always coming across sentences I just can't understand. Luckily, I have some erudite Chinese friends who take the time to explain things to me. – Pedroski Sep 16 '19 at 22:12

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