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Introduction - Chinese Writing Sys tem. Chinese writing system. Chinese vs. English. Chinese characters = English alphabets There are 26 Alphabets in English There are over 50,000 characters in Chinese English alphabets contain no meaning (except for “ I,” “a”)

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introduction chinese writing sys tem
Introduction - Chinese Writing System

IC Introduction (Character)

chinese writing system
Chinese writing system

IC Introduction (Character)

chinese vs english
Chinese vs. English
      • Chinese characters = English alphabets
  • There are 26 Alphabets in English
  • There are over 50,000 characters in


  • English alphabets contain no meaning

(except for “I,” “a”)

  • Each Chinese character has meanings

IC Introduction (Character)

written chinese unifies the varied chinese people and dialects
Written Chinese – Unifies the varied Chinese people and dialects
  • 3,000 of these are frequently used (99.15% frequency rate)
  • Only 500 – 600 are most frequently used in daily life!

IC Introduction (Character)

繁体字 vs. 简体字
  • There are two types of written Chinese characters in use today: Traditional characters (fántǐzì) and Simplified characters (jiǎntǐzì). Traditional characters, stemming from the Qin Dynasty (221-207 B.C.) have a history of roughly 2,000 years. Simplified characters evolved later from the People\'s Republic of China (PRC) government\'s wish to reduce illiteracy; they simplified the strokes used in Traditional Chinese to achieve this goal. Thus, Simplified characters are derived from the Traditional characters.

IC Introduction (Character)

繁体字 vs. 简体字
  • Example:車 - 车 (chē), automobile鐘 - 钟 (zhōng), clock
  • Discuss: What are the benefits of learning fántǐzì and jiǎntǐzì? Are you learning fántǐzì or jiǎntǐzì right now?

IC Introduction (Character)

evolution of chinese characters
Evolution of Chinese Characters

IC Introduction (Character)

evolution of characters
Evolution of Characters 汉字的演变

IC Introduction (Character)

vide o
Video - 甲骨文
  • video from 孔府学院
  • Youtubevideo:

IC Introduction (Character)

Video – 汉字
  • Video from 孔府学院

IC Introduction (Character)

introduction of chinese characters
Introduction of Chinese characters

A very nice intro video from

Dikk Kelly

IC Introduction (Character)

the basic strokes of characters
The Basic Strokes of Characters
  • Some Chinese characters (pictgraphs) evolved from pictures.
  • Many people describe writing Chinese characters as similar in feeling to drawing.
  • Question: When we write Chinese characters, are we actually painting?

IC Introduction (Character)

the basic strokes of characters1
The Basic Strokes of characters
  • Of course not!
  • When we paint a painting, it doesn’t matter whether the lines are straight or curvy, nor does it matter which strokes we paint first and which ones we paint later as the final painting resembles the objects that we seek to depict.
  • When writing Chinese characters, we must carefully follow the prescribed stroke order.

《汉字 的智慧》

IC Introduction (Character)

the basic strokes of characters2
The Basic Strokes of Characters

Question: How should we write Chinese characters?

Answer: As you learn to write Chinese characters, the first thing to know is how to make the strokes. Strokes are important because they show how the characters are composed and enable you to write the characters more easily. There are six basic strokes that are commonly used. It is very important to recognize the strokes and follow the writing rules. Learning the fundamental strokes of Chinese writing and the correct order also helps memorize characters and is an essential basis to learn written Chinese.

IC Introduction (Character)

the basic strokes of characters3
The Basic Strokes of Characters

A strokeis a single unbroken line drawn from the time you set your pen to paper and move it till the time you lift it off the paper.

Question: How many strokes (笔画) are there in the writing?

IC Introduction (Character)

disciplines in character writing
Disciplines in Character writing

IC Introduction (Character)

rules of stroke order
Rules of Stroke Order

1. Horizontal first, then vertical 十、干2. Top first, then bottom 二、古3. Left-slanted first, then right-slanted 八、人4. Left first, then right 川、仁5. Center first, then both sides 小、木6. When making a dot, write it first if it is positioned on the top or upper-left. When it appears on the upper right or in the middle, write it last. 文、斗;犬、叉

IC Introduction (Character)

rules of stroke order1
Rules of Stroke Order

7. With “closed” characters, make the outside strokes (left, top, right), then the strokes in the middle, then the bottom stroke that “clothes” the character. 回、因

8. With semi-closed characters, there are three different stroke orders:

  • strokes in the middle before surrounding strokes 凶、言;
  • surrounding strokes before strokes in the middle 同、司;
  • top before middle before lower-left 匹、匠

IC Introduction (Character)


Writing Styles


IC Introduction (Character)

all radicals are pictographs
All Radicals are Pictographs
  • Radicals are pictographs which represent objects in the real world.
  • Some of them can stand alone as independent, one-semantic-unit characters. Examples include 人,口,雨.
  • Radicals may also be combined with other components to form a new character for which the radial serves as a clue to its meaning. Example include 吹 and 妹

IC Introduction (Character)

all radicals are pictographs1
All Radicals are Pictographs
  • Some radicals cannot be used as independent characters but only serve as a part of another character. Their function is to provide a semantic clue to the character, such as 宀in 家, 囗 in 国, and 辶in 逛. According to most dictionaries, there are 214 commonly used radicals in Chinese.

IC Introduction (Character)

basic radicals matching
Basic Radicals (Matching)

人 口 山 水 日 月


( ) ( ) ( ) () ( ) ( )

  • 土木雨火女门
  • tǔmùyǚhuǒnǚmén

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) () ( )

IC Introduction (Character)

3 hu y a ssociative compounds
3. 会意(huìyì)Associative compounds

Sun moon bright


People tree  rest

人rén 木mù 休 xiū

IC Introduction (Character)

4 x ngsh ng p ictophonetic characters
4. 形声 (xíngshēng) Pictophoneticcharacters

Question:The majority of Chinese characters fall under which category?

IC Introduction (Character)

guess the pronunciation combinations of radicals and phonetics
Guess the Pronunciation: Combinations of Radicals and Phonetics

IC Introduction (Character)

转注 & 假借

5. 转注(zhuǎnzhù) Mutually explanatorycharacters

e.g. 老 lǎo考kǎo

‘elder’ ‘to test’

6. 假借 (jiǎjiè) Phonetic loan characters

e.g. 来 lái花 huā

‘to come’ ‘flower/to spend’

IC Introduction (Character)

disciplines in character writing proportion structure
Disciplines in Character writing- Proportion & Structure
  • Chinese characters are called "square" characters, meaning no matter how simple or complex, each character fits inside a square. These structures will not only help you memorize characters, but also reduce problems with missing dots or strokes when writing. Understanding these structures will make even complex characters easy to remember. characters should be written with a sense of symmetry and proportion.Understanding how to mentally plot out a character within a square will give you one of the fundamentals needed for effective written communication in Chinese.

Wong, M., Fang, T., Chen, S.-h., & Chien, L.-t. (2011). 真棒. (A. M. Vargas, Ed.) St. Paul, MN: EMC Publishing, LLC and LiveABC Interactive Corporation.

structure of chinese characters identify the radicals
Structure of Chinese Characters-Identify the radicals

One-semantic-unit characters (one part)

IC Introduction (Character)


Two-semantic-unit characters (two parts)

-Identify the radicals

IC Introduction (Character)


Three-semantic-unit characters (three parts)

Identify the Radicals

IC Introduction (Character)


Review the Basic Strokes



A stroke

is a single unbroken line drawn from the time you set your pen to paper and move it till the time you lift it off the paper.





IC Introduction (Character)

let s write
Let’s write




Keep these question inmind:

1. What is a radical?

2. Why do we have to learn radicals before learning any complicated characters?

3. What is a stroke?

4. What are the basic strokes?

5. Why is it important to follow the stroke order?

6. What are the rules of stroke order?

  • Liùqībājiǔshí
  • 六七八九 十

IC Introduction (Character)

let s write1
Let’s write

IC Introduction (Character)

let s write2
Let’s write

IC Introduction (Character)

let s write3
Let’s write

IC Introduction (Character)

more practice
More Practice

2. Pronounce the name of each stoke in the following two characters

Mark tone marks for the following pinyin. Match them with the basic strokes.

  • 横钩
  • 竖钩
  • 斜钩
  • 横折
  • 竖折

dian pie shugou





IC Introduction (Character)

other useful links
Other Useful Links
  • Character Stories
  • Character Strokes
  • Confucius Institute Character Book

IC Introduction (Character)