Comparing "yizhi" and "yixiang"
Both 一直 (yīzhí) and 一向 (yīxiàng) mean something close to "all along," and deal with continuous actions. However, their uses are different, and they are a pair of words that are often confused (and tested on!). This article will try to clarify when you are supposed to use them.
一直 means "straight" or "constantly" and it has the sense of doing something continuously "since a certain time." This means that something may have occurred, and then 一直 can be used with the action or habit since that point. It's important to note that this point in time doesn't necessarily have to be in the past, so 一直 can be used to say something "will happen repeatedly" in the future.
- 我 会 一直 陪着 你。I will always be with you.
- 雨 一直 在下，我 没办法 出去。It's constantly raining, I have no way to go out.
- 一直 往前 走，你 会 看到 地铁站 在你 右边。Keep walking ahead, you will see the subway station on your right.
- 我看书的时候，他一直 在说话，很烦。He kept talking while I was reading.It's so annoying.
- 他 毕业以后 一直 没有找到 真正 喜欢的 工作。He hasn't found a job that he really enjoys since his graduation from his college.
一向 does not have the time constraint that 一直 has. Instead, it means that things have always been like they are. In this way, it is more like a habit. Furthermore, it is often used to express a habit or event that you don't like, and can also be used in conjunction with 不.
- 他 一向 不 迟到 ，怎么 今天 还没 到 ？He never comes late, how is it that he hasn't come yet today
- 你知道 妈妈一向 不爱 出门，所以 她 是 不会 跟 我们 去 旅行 的。You know mom has never liked going out, so she is not going on the trip with us.
- 她 这 个 人 一向 喜欢 炫耀，很 讨厌。She has always liked showing off, she's horrible.
- 我 这个 朋友一向都 很 大方，今天 肯定 是 他 请客 。This friend of mine is always very generous,so today he's definitely paying.
However, 一向 also can’t affect words that indicate change (as this wouldn’t be a habit), nor can it talk about constant future actions. For both of these cases, 一直 should be used instead.