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Expressing "ever since" with "yilai"

There are a few ways to express "ever since" in Chinese. In English, we would say something like "ever since I came to Shanghai, my Chinese has improved a lot." In this article, we will first take a look at using 以来 (yǐlái) to mean "ever since." We will also take a quick look at using "ever since" with 来 (lái), which is similar but used in a somewhat different way.

Pattern with 以来

To express "ever since," all one needs to do is put 以来 after a specific event or time. It expresses what has happened since the stated event until the time that the speaker talks (in other words, referring to a certain time period).


This grammar pattern is usually used to start a statement.

Time / Event + 以来 ,⋯⋯

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.

自 / 从 / 自从 + Time / Event + 以来


  • 今年 八月 以来 ,这里 一直 没 下 过 雨 。Jīnnián Bāyuè yǐlái, zhèlǐ yīzhí méi xià guo yǔ.It hasn't rained since August.
  • 结婚 以来 ,我们 没 吵 过 架 。Jiéhūn yǐlái, wǒmen méi chǎo guo jià.We've never had a fight since we got married.
  • 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.

Pattern with 来

Using 来 to mean "ever since" is basically the same as 以来, however, there is one key difference: you can only use 来 after a time interval. In other words, it needs to be used with a certain number of years, months, days, hours etc. In English this would be like saying "ever since three days ago, I've had a constant headache." It doesn't have to be a specific number either, it could be "a few" (几).


Time Interval + 来 ,⋯⋯

This form cannot be used with 自, 从 or 自从 (or other similar words).


  • 十 年 ,房价 一直 在 涨 。Shí nián lái, fángjià yīzhí zài zhǎng.In the past decade, housing prices have been going up.
  • 几 年 ,我们 公司 的 收入 一直 在 增加 。Jǐ nián lái, wǒmen gōngsī de shōurù yīzhí zài zēngjiā.Our company's income has been increasing over the past few years.
  • 实习 几 个 月 ,我 学到 了 很 多 。Shíxí jǐ gè yuè lái, wǒ xuédào le hěn duō.I've learnt a lot from my internship during the last few months.
  • 出国 几 个 月 ,她 一点 也 不 想 家 。Chūguó jǐ gè yuè lái, tā yīdiǎn yě bù xiǎng jiā.She hasn't missed home at all since she went abroad a few month ago.
  • 离婚 这 几 年 ,他 从 没 去 看 过 孩子 。Líhūn zhè jǐ nián lái, tā cóng méi qù kàn guo háizi.He hasn't visited his child since he got divorced a few years ago.

See also

Sources and further reading