Expressing "ever since" with "zicong"
自从 means "ever since" in English, and is used to express the starting point of an action in the past. It can be followed by phrases using the markers 起 and 以后.
自从 + [Starting Point]
- 自从 来 到 湖南，我 越 来 越 能 吃 辣 了。Ever since arriving in Hunan, I've been more and more able to eat spicy food.
- 自从 金融 危机 爆发，就业 市场 变 得 越 来 越 不 景气 了。Ever since the economic crisis, the job market has been growing less and less.
- 自从 他 跟 我 分手 后，他 就 没有 联系 过 我。Ever since he broke up with me, he hasn't contacted me.
In the above examples, 从 can be used interchangeably with 自从. The main difference is that 从 can also be used to state starting points in the future, a little like "from" in English. 自从 cannot be used in this way.
- 从 明天 开始，我 要 认真 看 书。Starting from tomorrow, I'm going to study seriously.
- 自从 明天 开始，我 要 认真 看 书。
Note that 从 can be used to denote starting points in place and time, whereas 自从 can only be used to express starting points in time.
Sources and further reading
- Boya Chinese Lower Intermediate 1 (博雅汉语准中级加速篇) (pp. 218) [ →buy]