Learn Chinese for Free - Lesson 1

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Today's Chinese characters:

Here we are with your first Chinese characters! How do you feel? When I started to learn Chinese characters I felt pleasantly excited and at the same time terrified!

That's why I have carefully selected the characters in this first lesson. I want to soften as much as possible the impact.

Are they not the simplest signs you've ever seen? They are four numbers, number 1, number 2, number 3, and number 10, respectively.

Using our first, simple, pretty today's characters, you're going to learn how to write and read in Chinese the following numbers:

1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 12, 13, 20, 21, 22, 23, 30, 31, 32, and 33.

Characters' Knowledge Meter
Today with this lesson your characters' knowledge will reach 2.04% of all the Chinese characters usage! 2.04%

Characters' Essentials

Character Pronunciation Meaning
yi1
ATTENTION: When alone, before shi2 or at the end of a word or a sentence, it is pronounced in the first tone. When it precedes a syllable of the first, second or third tone, it is pronounced in the fourth tone. It is pronounced in the second tone when it is followed by a fourth tone.
-One
er4
-Two
san1
-Three
shi2
-Ten

Description and Examples

Combining the above four Chinese characters, more numbers can be obtained.

For example, writing yi1 after shi2, we get number eleven.

shi2yi1 eleven

Writing er4 or san1 after shi2, we get numbers twelve or thirteen, respectively.

shi2er4 twelve

shi2san1 thirteen

On the other hand, if we put er4 or san1 before shi2, we obtain numbers twenty or thirty, respectively.

er4shi2 twenty

san1shi2 thirty

ATTENTION: Number ten doesn't need yi1 before shi2. Anyway, as you're going to learn in a future lesson, if shi2 is inside a bigger number, such as 310 or 3010, yi1 is needed before it.

What if we write er4 before and after shi2? Well, we get number 22!

er4shi2er4 twenty-two

Other examples:

er4shi2yi1 twenty-one

san1shi2yi1 thirty-one

san1shi2san1 thirty-three

Exercise

Using Chinese characters, write, on paper, the following numbers:

1 
2 
3 
10 
11 
12 
13 
20 
21 
22 
23 
30 
31 
32 
33 

That's all for today. Please feel free to browse the rest of this site.


Characters' Details

Chinese Character 1 of 1000
character's usage score# 2
frequency 1.5765677%

Character Help Animation Help Strokes Help
1

Pronunciation Help Meaning Help
yi1
ATTENTION: When alone, before shi2 or at the end of a word or a sentence, it is pronounced in the first tone. When it precedes a syllable of the first, second or third tone, it is pronounced in the fourth tone. It is pronounced in the second tone when it is followed by a fourth tone.
-One; same; also; whole; wholehearted; single; each
-As soon as
-A note (equivalent to 7) of the scale in gongchepu (a traditional Chinese musical notation)
-Used as structural particle:
1. indicating that the action occurs once, lasts for a short time or is a try;
2. used before a verb or a verbal measure word to indicate an action and its result;
3. used before certain words for emphasis

There's no difference between the simplified and the traditional version of this character.Help

Chinese Character 2 of 1000
character's usage score# 157
frequency 0.1382431%

Character Help Animation Help Strokes Help
2

Pronunciation Help Meaning Help
er4
-Two
-ATTENTION: For details about the different use of er4 and liang3, please see liang3
-Different

There's no difference between the simplified and the traditional version of this character.Help

Chinese Character 3 of 1000
character's usage score# 125
frequency 0.1572432%

Character Help Animation Help Strokes Help
3

Pronunciation Help Meaning Help
san1
-Three; more than two, many
-A surname

There's no difference between the simplified and the traditional version of this character.Help

Chinese Character 4 of 1000
character's usage score# 112
frequency 0.1751663%

Character Help Animation Help Strokes Help
2

Pronunciation Help Meaning Help
shi2
-Ten
-Topmost

There's no difference between the simplified and the traditional version of this character.Help

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