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yì zhí
adv. (indicating one direction) straight; always, all along, continuously; all the way
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一直 is used to indicate:

1. that an action or a state is continuous.
E.g.1 上午我一直在写作业,没有休息过 。In the morning I was doing my homework all along, without any break.

2. that an action or a state that exists during a period of time.
E.g.2 这几年,我一直在家里做一些翻译文件工作。These few years, I have been doing some translation work at home.

3. that a situation appears repetitively in the same context.
E.g.3 我一直走路上班。I always go to work on foot.

4. one's emotion or attitude towards someone or something.
E.g. 4 我一直很喜欢你。 I'm always quite fond of you.

5. one's point of view, opinion
E.g. 5a 我一直认为他不适合这份工作。I always don't think he is a good fit for this position.
E.g. 5b 我一直怀疑他是个小偷。I have suspected that he is a thief all along.
lisaC
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Could you also specify the difference between 一直 and 总是
Richard Pohl
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一直 indicates an action or a state continues to exist without changes. There exist three different senses:

1. Indicating an action or a state continues to exist without intervals or pauses. If it is an action, it's usually within a short period of time; if it's a state, it can be within a relatively long period of time. In either case, we cannot use 总是 to replace 一直.
E.g.1a (action) 他上午一直在学习,没休息过。
E.g.1b (state) 这三十多年我一直爱着他。

2. Indicating that a situation continues to exist intermittently over a period of time. We may use 总是 as well.
E.g.2 这几年我一直(or 总是)在家写作。 - Writing at home cannot be an action that continues without pauses. So here, 一直 indicates the action 写作 continues to happen intermittently over these few years.

3. Indicating in the same situation (place and/or time), a situation continues to happen repetitively. We may also use 总是.
E.g.3 爸爸一直(or 总是)开车送我上学。
lisaC
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