Prepositions: 往 wǎng, 从 cóng, 到 dào and 离 lí
从 cóng, 到 dào
从 cóng, 到 dào are both prepositions with meanings same as “from” and “to”，when 到 dào is used as a verb, it means “reach”，such as 到家 dào jiā，到学校 dào xuéxiào. We can use the two words separately and also in one phrase, 从 cóng… 到 dào… is used in the same way as “from… to…” , and we can use this phrase for time and places. For example:
|她 从 国 外 刚 回 来。|
Tā cóng guó wài gāng huí lái.
She just got back from abroad.
从 我 家 到 公司 坐 公交 车 要 很 久。
Cóng wǒ jiā dào gōngsī zuò gōngjiāo chē yào hěn jiǔ.
It takes long time from my house to my company by bus.
从 昨天 到 现在 他 一直 生病。
Cóng zuótiān dào xiànzài tā yīzhí shēngbìng.
He has been sick since yesterday.
往 wǎng indicates direction, its meaning is similar to the word “towards” and it can precede a place or a direction, but try to distinguish it with the word 到 dào，since 到 dào is reaching the destination, but 往 wǎng focuses more on the journey, for example:
|他 往 家 走 了。|
Tā wǎng jiā zǒu le
He walked towards the direction of his house (he hasn’t reached home yet).
Also 往 can be located after a few monosyllabic verbs, which are then followed by location nouns.
|开 往 北京 的 火车。|
kāi wǎng Běijīng de huǒchē
The train to Bejing.
There is a word 向 xiàng which is really similar to the word 往 wǎng，and they often creates confusion. Generally speaking these two words sometimes can interchange between them. For Example:
|到 第 一 个 路口 往 / 向 左 转。|
Dào dì yī gè lùkǒu wǎng /xiàng zuǒ zhuǎn.
Till the first intersection, tun left.
他 往 / 向 我 这儿 跑 来 了。
Tā wǎng /xiàng wǒ zhèr pǎo lái le.
He ran towards me.
Here both words mean “towards”. But 向 xiàng has other meaning which is facing certain point (direction/location), while 往 wǎng tends to indicate something moves towards a direction. For example:
|他 向 我 打 招呼.|
Tā xiàng wǒ dǎ zhāohu
He waved at me.
我 家 面 向 大海。
Wǒ jiā miàn xiàng dàhǎi
My house faces the sea.
In this sentence there is no change of location, so we can only use 向 xiàng.
离 lí can also be explained as “from”, but it is only used to address distance. You can not say “go from one place to another” using 离 lí . The structure is:
Place A + 离 + Place B + distance
|现在 我们 离 上海 还有 110 公里。|
Xiànzài wǒmen lí Shànghǎi háiyǒu 110 gōnglǐ
We are now 110 km far from Shanghai.
Place A + 离 + Place B + Adv. + Adj.
|那 个 餐厅 离 这儿 太 远 了， 我们 还是 别 去了。|
Nà gè cāntīng lí zhèr tài yuǎn le ，wǒmen háishì bié qù le.
That restaurant is too far from here, we should not go.