Does anyone know if 从来 translates to "always"? And if it is, is it used in the same way? For example if I want to say: "I always buy oranges", would that be “我从来买橘子”？
从来 in modern Chinese is more like "never". It is always used with other negative word like 不 or 没有. In ancient Chinese it does means "always" but nowadays nobody use this original meaning.
So it is not common to say " I always buy oranges " as "我从来买橘子" in Chinese. You can say " 我 经常/一直 买橘子"
But when you try to say " I've never bought orange" in Chinese. You can say: "我从来没买过橘子"
Without 都, 从来 does not mean always. 从来 actually means from (从) past till present (来). It is obvious where the
always come from by looking at the example given by NS.X:
Everyday, he drinks coffee when he wakes up. From past till present, it has always been like this.
每天 他 喝 咖啡 就 一起床 从 来 都 是 这样
See grammar usage here.
If you want to say "I always buy oranges", you can try using 向来都 instead. For example:
向来 means all along. 都 makes it always.
According to 现代汉语虚词词典, 从来 always means always (given that always + a negative + ... = never + ...) and it can be used in the following ways:
- 从来 as a 副词 in a positive sentence
- occasionally it can function as a 定语.
In my experience it is much more commonly used with negative sentences. So, if you want to use always in a positive sentence, such as "I always buy oranges," it may sound more natural to use some other way to express always.
it is more like the word 'ever' in (old) English, whose meaning changes as the word going with it changes, like forever(for ever) and not...ever (or never in its abbr. form) .
In this case, 从来都=forever/always, 从来不=not...ever.