Saying "ever since" with "yilai"
|Is similar to|
|Is used for||Sequencing events in time, Referring to the past|
There are a few ways to express "ever since" in Chinese. In English, we would say something like "ever since I came to Shanghai, my Chinese has improved a lot." In this article, we will first take a look at using 以来 (yǐlái) to mean "ever since". We will also take a quick look at using "ever since" with 来 （lái), which is similar but used in a somewhat different way.
Structure with 以来
To express "ever since", all one needs to do is put "以来" (yǐlái) after a specific event or time. It expresses what has happened since the event spoken until the time that the speaker talks (in other words, referring to a certain time period).
This grammar patter is usually used to start a statement.
Time or Event + 以来
- 上大学以来 ，我 一直 没逃过课。Since I was in college, I haven't skip a class.
- 到 上海 以来 ，他 的 汉语 水平 提高 了。Ever since he came to Shanghai, his Chinese has been improving.
- 住院 以来 ，常常有朋友来医院看望她 。Ever since she was in hospital, her friends have constantly come and visited her.
Form with 自, 从 or 自从
When you need to use 以来 in a more formal or written context, you can add 自, 从 or 自从 (or other similar words) before the time or event.
自/从/自从 + Time or Event + 以来
- 自从 我 拿到 驾照 以来 已经 有 五 年 了。I've had my license for five years.
- 自从 去年 夏天以来，他 一直 没有 回过家 。He hasn't returned home since last summer.
- 自从退学以来，他一直在帮父母做农活。Since he left school,he's been helping her parents do farm work.
- 自从 1979 年 改革开放 以来，中国人 的 生活水平 得到 了 提高。Ever since the 1979 reform, the Chinese people's level of living has gone up.
Structure with 来
Using 来 to mean "ever since" is basically the same as "以来", however, there is one key difference: you can only use 来 after a time interval. In other words, it needs to be used with a certain number of years, months, days, hours etc. In English this would be like saying "ever since three days ago, I have constantly had a headache." It doesn't have to be a specific number either, it could be "a few" (几).
This form cannot be used with 自, 从 or 自从 (or other similar words).
Time interval + 来
- 三 个 月来，我们 去 了 很 多地方 旅游。Since three months ago, we've traveled to a lot of places.
- 五 年 来，物价 一直 上涨。Ever since five years ago, prices have been going up.
- 我 的 同学 几 天 来 一直 没有 上课。My classmate hasn't come to class for a few days now.
Sources and further reading
- New Practical Chinese Reader 4 (新实用汉语课本4) (p. 203) →buy
- Boya Chinese Elementary Starter 2 (博雅汉语初经起步篇) (p. 25) →buy
- 现代汉语八百词 （p. 616) →buy
- 卓越汉语－公司实战篇 (p. 36) →buy