Chinese Grammar Bank


In this article, we will show you how to use 离 (lí) in different situations related to the distance between two places.

You’ll also see how to use 离 with time to tell how far one point in time is from another.


离 (lí) can be used to express the distance between two places.

In the case of unspecified distances, 离 is normally paired with adjectives 近 and 远 to give the distance between the places.

  • 近 (jìn) means “close to” or “near”.
  • 远 (yuǎn) means “far”.

Here, 离 normally indicates that “a place is close to or far from another place”.


Place 1 + 离 + Place 2 + Adverb of degree + 近/远

dìtiě zhàn zhèlǐ hěn jìn.


The subway station is very near here.
shànghǎi běijīng hěn yuǎn.


Shanghai is far from Beijing.
View More Phrases
图书馆离邮局很远。túshūguǎn lí yóujú hěn yuǎn. The library is far from the post office.
这个城市离海边不太远。zhège chéngshì lí hǎibiān bù tài yuǎn.This city is not too far away from the beach.
我们公司离机场很近,开车只需要几分钟。wǒmen gōngsī lí jīchǎng hěn jìn, kāichē zhǐ xūyào jǐ fēnzhōng.Our company is very close to the airport. It only takes a few minutes to drive there.



Place 1 + 离 + Place 2 + 不 + 近/远

The negative is applied to the adjectives 近 (jìn) and 远 (yuǎn) not 离.

běijīngshànghǎi bú jìn.


Beijing is not close to Shanghai.
dìtiězhàn zhèlǐ bù yuǎn.


The subway station is not far from here.


Here, 离 indicates that a place is away from another place by that specific distance.

You can use this when you want to talk about distance in kilometers, meters, miles, etc.

You can also use descriptives like 5-minute walk, two-hour drive etc, in this structure:


Place 1 + 离 + Place 2 + distance or numerical descriptive

túshū guǎn lí yóujú jiǔbǎi mǐ.


The library is 900 meters away from the post office.
běijīng lí shànghǎi yīqiān duō gōnglǐ.


Beijing is more than 1000 kilometers away from Shanghai.
View More Phrases
那家酒店离你家五百米。nà jiā jiǔdiàn lǐ nǐ jiā wǔbǎi mǐThat hotel is 500 meters from your house.
那个地方离这里走路十分钟。nàgè dìfāng lí zhèlǐ zǒulù shí fēnzhōngThat place is a 10-minute walk from here.
北京离上海坐飞机两个小时。běijīng lí shànghǎi zuò fēijī liǎng gè xiǎoshíBeijing is two hours away from Shanghai by plane.


Besides stating how far or near a place is, you might want to ask how far a place is from another.

Here, you can use two ways to ask how far a place is from another, depending on whether you want a specific distance or an estimated distance (less specific).

Structure 1 | Unspecified distance


Place 1 + 离 + Place 2 (+ Adverb of degree) + 近/远 + 吗

北京离上海(很)远吗?běijīng lí shànghǎi (hěn) yuǎn ma?Is Beijing far from Shanghai?
他家离我们公司近吗?tā jiā lí wǒmen gōngsī jìn ma?Is his house close to our company?
她的大学离她老家很远吗?tā de dàxué lí tā lǎojiā hěn yuǎn ma?Is her university far from her hometown?

Structure 2 | Specified distance


Place 1 + 离 + Place 2 (+有) + 多远

地铁站离公司多远?dìtiě zhàn lí gōngsī duō yuǎn?How far is the subway station from the company?
那家酒店离你家(有)多远?nà jiā jiǔdiàn lí nǐ jiā (yǒu) duō yuǎn?How far is that hotel your house?

NOTE || 有多远 is normally used when someone presumes that the distance between two places is large.


You can use 离 when you want to talk about how far one moment in time is from another.

You can use 近 (jìn) or 远(yuǎn) to refer to an unspecified duration (distance in time) and units that measure time for specified durations.


Moment 1 + 离 + Moment 2 + Duration

NOTE || Words like 有, 只有 and 还有 are used before specific durations for emphasis.

nà chǎng bǐsàijīntiān hěn yuǎn, yǒu shíjiān zhǔnbèi.


That game is far from today, there is time to prepare.
View More Phrases
她的生日离现在很近。tā de shēngrì lí xiànzài hěn jìn.Her birthday is very close (to) now.
圣诞离现在有六个月。shèngdàn lí xiànzài yǒu liù gè yuè.Christmas is six months (from now).
他的音乐会离现在只有五天。Tā de yīnyuè huì lí xiànzài zhǐyǒu wǔ tiān.His concert is only five days away (from today).


A helpful casual expression to know is how to say “Stay away from me” using 离 (lí). The phrase carries a command tone when said.

你离我远一点!or 你离我远点儿!

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What does 离 mean?

离 (lí) can be understood as “from” or “to be (away) from”

Structure “A 离 B” would mean “A from B”

What’s the most basic way to use 离?

The most basic structure for 离 is “Place 1 + 离 + Place 2 + distance”

Example 1: 这间餐厅离学校很近 zhè jiān cāntīng lí xuéxiào hěn yuǎn This restaurant is very close to the school.

Example 2: 学校里我家九百米 xuéxiào lǐ wǒjiā jiǔbǎi mǐ My house is 900 meters away from the school.

What’s the difference between 离 and 距离?

距离 (jùlí) is a more formal version of 离 (lí). 距离 is used more in newspapers, books and on TV. It functions the same way 离 does.

What’s the difference between 离 and 从?

离 (lí) and 从 (cóng) are both used to describe distances and durations. Their difference is seen from their sentence structures. Also, 离 CAN’T be used if you don’t mention the distance between two places or duration of time while 从 can.

离 basic structure: A + 离 + B + distance

从 basic structure: 从 + A + 到 + B

In their structures, A and B can be places or time.

离 example: 学校离我家很远。xuéxiào lí wǒjiā hěn yuǎn. The school is far from my home.

从 example: 从学校到我家很远。cóng xuéxiào dào wǒjiā hěn yuǎn. It’s far from my home to school.

What other grammar points can I learn?

Here are a three grammar point suggestions that you can learn next:

How to use 比

How to use 从…到

How to use big numbers

How do you pronounce 离?

离 is pronounced . The pinyin is sometimes written li2.

We created our own Chinese Pronunciation Trainer powered with a speech recognition technology designed to pinpoint what word exactly you need to improve.

Try it out to improve your pronunciation of 离.