Comparing "li" and "cong"
Both 离 (lí) and 从 (cóng) can be translated into English as "from." In Chinese, however, their meanings are different. 从 is used in cases where the subject's position relative to a fixed location changes. 离 expresses a "static" distance, or a distance that is unchanging. Both can be used in defining distance or time, however 从 has more meanings than 离.
- 1 从 as "from" (Time or Event)
- 2 从 as "From" (a Place, Somebody, or Something)
- 3 离 as "Distance from"
- 4 离 as "From" (a Time or Event)
- 5 Colloquial Saying 离⋯⋯还远呢
- 6 Sources and further reading
从 as "from" (Time or Event)
从 + Time / Event + 开始 / 起
- 从 下 个 月 起 ，公司 会 越来越 忙 。Starting from next month, the company will be busier and busier.
- 从 我 上 小学 开始，就 特别 喜欢 画画 。I have really liked drawing since starting elementary school.
从那以后 means "ever since then," while 从今以后 means "from now on."
A few examples:
- 从 那 以后 ，我们 就 没有 联系 了 。Ever since then, we haven't been in touch.
- 从 今 以后 ，我 不用 再 加班 了 。I don't need to work late from now on.
从 as "From" (a Place, Somebody, or Something)
从 + Place + 上 / 里
- 你 是 不 是 从 我 包 里 拿 了 一百块钱 ？Did you take one hundred RMB from my purse?
- 我 从 他 身上 学到 了 很多 东西 。I learned a lot from him.
- 从 这 件 事 可以 看出 你 的 工作 态度 。From this incident, we can see your attitude toward work.
离 as "Distance from"
Place 1 + 离 + Place 2 + 远 / 近
- 你 家 离 公司 多 远 ？How far is your home from your company?
- 我 家 离 公司 很 远 。My home is far from my office.
Try not to say:
- 我 家 很 远 从 公司 。
- 我 家 从 公司 很 远 。
离 as "From" (a Time or Event)
Past Event 1 + 离 + Time + Duration
If you want to say "from now," try this pattern:
离 + Future Event + 还有 + Duration
- 上次 见面 离 今天 快 十 年 了 。It's been about 10 years since we met last time.
- 离 我们 的 婚礼 还有 两个 星期 。We still have two weeks until our wedding.
- 离 毕业 还有 几 个 月 。I am a few months away from graduation.
Colloquial Saying 离⋯⋯还远呢
离⋯⋯还远呢 expresses that something is very far off in terms of time.
- 我们 刚刚 开始 谈 恋爱 ，离 结婚 还远 呢 。We've just started our relationship. It's too soon to talk about marriage.
Sources and further reading
- 现代汉语虚词例释 (pp. 335) 卓越汉语－公司实战篇 →buy
- 实用对外汉语教学语法 (pp. 263) [ →buy]