Advanced uses of "zong"
总 (zǒng) can often be simply translated as "always," but it has other advanced uses as well. It can express "no matter how long or under what circumstances, facts are facts." It can also express "no matter what." It is often paired with other words to form set phrases such as 总会, 总归, 总得, 总要, 总能, etc. It can also be structured together with other unconditional compound phrases like 无论 and 不管. You cannot place it directly after the verb.
Used with Auxiliary Verb
In this structure, 总, with its companion character (usually a modal/auxiliary verb), means "always will (fill in character/action here)" Once again, it gives the feeling of something very concrete and factual. As you'll see in the examples, below, however, the word "always" don't always work well in a natural translation to English.
总 + 会 / 得 / 要 / 能 + Verb Phrase (+ 吧)
- 这里 是 他 家，他 总 会 回来 的。This is his home. He will always come back.
- 咱们 总 得 想 个 办法 啊。We're going to have to come up with some kind of solution.
- 不管 发生 了 什么，人 总 要 吃饭 吧。No matter what happens, people still have to eat, right?
- 他 是 你 爸爸，你 总 要 礼貌 一点 吧。He is your father, so you ought to be a little more polite.
- 你 拿 了 人家 的 钱，总 得 帮 人家 做 事 吧。You took their money, so you're going to have to help them with the work.
Used with 不 and 没
When 总 is used together with a negating word (like 不 or 没), it often has a tone of speculation, judgment or suggestion. The sentence often ends with a 吧.
总 + 不 / 没 + Verb
- 你们 之间 的 联系 这么 少，看 起来 总 不 像 是 一 家 人。You talk to each other so little. It seems that you're barely family.
- 他 这么 大 年纪 了，我们 总 不 能 让 他 一个人 去 吧？He's so elderly. We can't just let him go there all alone, right?
- 这么 晚 了，总 不 会 出 了 什么事 吧？It's getting late. Do you think something bad might have happened?
- 这 件 事 总 不 会 是 内部 的 人 做 的 吧？This whole thing couldn't be an inside job, could it?
- 他 想 带 父母 去 旅行，可是 总 没 时间。He wants to take his parents traveling, but he's never able to find time.
- Comparing "zongsuan" and “zhongyu"
- "Always" with "zongshi"
- Expressing "After All" with "bijing"
- Expressing "In the End" with "daodi"
Sources and further reading