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 。It hasn't rained since August.
- 结婚 以来 ，我们 没 吵 过 架 。We've never had a fight since we got married.
- 从 他 爸爸 去世 以来 ，他 一直 没 回 过 家 。He hasn't returned home since his father passed away.
- 从 毕业 以来，她 一直 在 教 汉语 。She has been teaching Chinese since she graduated.
- 自 改革 开放 以来 ，中国 社会 发生 了 巨大 的 变化 。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 来，房价 一直 在 涨 。In the past decade, housing prices have been going up.
- 几 年 来 ，我们 公司 的 收入 一直 在 增加 。Our company's income has been increasing over the past few years.
- 实习 几 个 月来 ，我 学到 了 很 多 。I've learnt a lot from my internship during the last few months.
- 出国 几 个 月 来 ，她 一点 也 不 想 家 。She hasn't missed home at all since she went abroad a few month ago.
- 离婚 这 几 年 来 ，他 从 没 去 看 过 孩子 。He hasn't visited his child since he got divorced a few years ago.