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[一度]{いちど(ひとたび)} means once, but [一遍]{いっぺん} also mean once in sentences like once I did something or once I am a something.

常に means always in sentences like I always am a something or I always do something

But idiomatically, Once bitten twice shy is translated as [羹]{あつもの}に[懲]{こ}りて[膾]{なます}を[吹]{ふ}く in Japanese.

So if I want to say Once a thief, always a thief, is this phrase grammatical 盗人一度, 常に盗人?

What if I want to say Once a X, always a X? and X is a noun/noun phrase?

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There is also 一回 for "one time/once". – Earthliŋ Jun 5 '13 at 15:49
ALC has an entry for Once a thief, always a thief: eow.alc.co.jp/search?q=once+a+thief%2c+always+a+thief – snailplane Jun 5 '13 at 15:53
You might also opt for 泥棒 over 盗人... which apparently is read ぬすっと – ssb Jun 5 '13 at 16:33
up vote 7 down vote accepted

I believe you are making the mistake of attempting to replicate an English pattern in Japanese.

As snailboat points out, the idiomatic equivalent is as follows:


And if you make this search,


one finds that the nearest Japanese equivalent seems to be:

noun phrase はいつまでたっても noun phrase

If one uses the vocabulary you suggested, the nearest equivalent seems to be:

Once an actor, always an actor. 一度役者をやればやめられない。 Once an addict, always an addict. 一度中毒になるとやめられない。

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anyone want to explain 三つ子の魂百まで? or link to an explanation? – yadokari Jun 5 '13 at 19:45
@snailboat, thanks. but i still don't understand it. do you? – yadokari Jun 5 '13 at 20:36
The spirit of a three-year-old child remains the same, even when they're a hundred years old. – snailplane Jun 5 '13 at 20:49
sorry i kept reading 三つ子 as triplets. thanks. – yadokari Jun 5 '13 at 20:59

For "Once a X, always a X", some suggestions would be 「Xはなおらず」 or 「XはXのまま」.

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