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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.

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 to make it into a "sandwich pattern."

Structure

自 / 从 / 自从 + Time / Event + 以来

Examples

  • 他 爸爸 去世 以来 ,他 一直 没 回 过 家 。Cóng tā bàba qùshì yǐlái, tā yīzhí méi huí guo jiā.He hasn't returned home since his father passed away.
  • 毕业 以来,她 一直 在 教 汉语 。Cóng bìyè yǐlái, tā yīzhí zài jiāo Hànyǔ.She has been teaching Chinese since she graduated.
  • 改革 开放 以来 ,中国 社会 发生 了 巨大 的 变化 。 gǎigé kāifàng yǐlái, Zhōngguó shèhuì fāshēng le jùdà de biànhuà.Tremendous changes have been taking place in China since the reform and opening up to the outside world.
  • 自从 妹妹 出生 以来 ,妈妈 就 更 忙 了 。Zìcóng mèimei chūshēng yǐlái, māma jiù gèng máng le .Tremendous changes have been taking place in China since the reform and opening up to the outside world.

Structure

自从 + [Starting Point]

Examples

  • 自从 来 到 湖南,我 越来越 能 吃 辣 了。Zìcóng lái dào Húnán, wǒ yuèláiyuè néng chī là le .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 越来越 不 景气 了。Zìcóng ljīnróng wēijī bàofā, jiùyè shìchǎng yuèláiyuè bù jǐngqì le .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。Zìcóng ltā gēn wǒ fēnshǒu,tā jiù méiyǒu liánxì guo wǒ.Ever since he broke up with me, he hasn't contacted me.
  • 自从 用 手机 付款 后,我 很少 带 现金 出门。Zìcóng yòng shǒujī fùkuǎn hòu, wǒ hěnshǎo dài xiànjīn chūmén .Ever since he broke up with me, he hasn't contacted me.
  • 自从 吵 完 架,两 个 人 再 也 没有 说 过 话。Zìcóng chǎo wán jià, liǎng ge rén zài yě méiyǒu shuō guo huà .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.

  • 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.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books