How to Say… in Chinese? Always, Never, Hang Out, Stay at Home

We have found that some of the most popular posts are those which help you navigate the usage of common Mandarin words and phrases and the differences between words with similar meanings. Today is an example of this kind of post. We hope it’s helpful!

宅(zhái )

A popular way to say “stay at home” is to use the verb “宅” / zhái which is used to mean “hang out at home”, rather than the more formal verb “待” /dāi (to stay [at a place]).

During this National Day Holiday week, you’ll hear a lot of Chinese people using the phrase.


From Baidu Chinese


Wǒ nìngyuàn zhái zài jiālǐ.

I’d rather hang out at home.

wǒ nìngyuàn dāi zài jiālǐ.


“宅” refers specifically to staying at home (its formal definition is ‘residence’). So if someone is a homebody, you might say:

Tā hěn zhái.


A common name for teens who are tied to their computers at home is:

“宅女” / zháinǔ and “宅男” zháinán (female and male terms respectively).

Like many other countries, in China, there are many national holidays. A huge number of people would take advantage of these holidays to travel with their family or friends. According to news reports, there are no less than 100 million people traveling for China’s National Day Holiday during the period October 1-7, in the year of 2014. This number has been increasing since then. So, if you plan to visit China, be sure to avoid these peak times! Here is a China travel guide for you.

待 (Dāi)

If you want to refer to staying at places other than home, choose 待 / dāi.


Dāi zài nàr, bié dòng!

在那儿 别动!
Stay there, don’t move!

Wǒmen yào zài ZhōngGuō dāi liǎng ge xīngqī.
We will stay in China for two weeks.

宅 / zhái is a super practical verb, especially as winter approaches – try it out next time you just want a quiet night in!

从来 (cónglái) and 向来 (xiànglái) are two frequency words that express continuity – something that has always previously been (done) or, when used in the negative, something that has never previously been (done).

Their usages are practically the same and both are pretty handy in conversational Mandarin, as you’ll see below:

 A airplane taking off
From Reader’s Digest

向来 (xiànglái)

Use 向来 to mean “always” or in the negative, adding 不 or 没 to mean “never” or “have never” respectively.


Wǒ xiànglái hàipà fēixíng.

I have always been afraid of flying.


Tā xiànglái hěn huì tǎojià huánjià.

He has always been excellent at bargaining.


Nǐ xiànglái shì wǒ de hǎo péngyǒu.

You have always been a great friend to me.


Tā xiànglái dōu méi bāngzhù guò wǒ.

She has never given me any help.


Tā xiànglái bu chuān piányí de yīfú.

He never wears cheap clothes.


Tā xiànglái hěn cōngmíng.

She has always been very smart.

从来 (cónglái)

从来 is almost always used in the negative to mean “never” or “have never”, though you might occasionally hear it used to mean “always”:


Tā cónglái dōu bù qù jiànshēnfáng.

He never goes to the gym.


Wǒ cónglái méi chīguò jīzhuǎ.

I’ve never eaten chicken’s feet before.



Wǒ cónglái méi jiànguò nǎinai xiào de zhème lìhài!

I have never seen grandma laugh so much!


  1. To add emphasis, add 都 directly after 从来 or 向来.
  2. 从来 and 向来 are not used when it comes to talking about the future. Only about what has always previously been up until now.
  3. 从来 cannot be followed by a single verb or adjective, whereas 向来 can. For example, you can say “她向来很漂亮” but you can’t say “她从来漂亮”; you can say “他向来很努力” but you can’t say “他从来很努力”。

Book A Free Demo Class

Questions? Comments? Feel free to leave them below.  Tell us what you ALWAYS or NEVER do!

Copyright Notice: Everyone is welcome to forward the articles in this blog as long as the links to these articles are also included.

You Might Be Interested