Learn Chinese for Free - Lesson 51

48   49   50   51   52   53   54

Today's Chinese characters:

木文古

On Lesson 49 we introduced briefly the concept of radicals. Today we are going to talk about them and see again how to use our n.1 most common character .

Character Knowledge Meter
22.0%
Today with this lesson your knowledge of Chinese characters will reach 22.0% of all the Chinese language usage!

Characters' Essentials

Character Help
Pronunciation Help
Meaning Help
-Tree; wood, timber
Character Help
Pronunciation Help
Meaning Help
-Writing; culture
Character Help
Pronunciation Help
Meaning Help
-Ancient, paleo-, archeo-

Description and Examples

Dictionaries adopt a number of different criteria to classify Chinese characters.

In the body of the dictionary, characters are usually sorted out alphabetically according to their pinyin. But what if you don't know a character's pronunciation? In that case, the pinyin classification alone would be useless. That's why almost all dictionaries contain two specific (and cryptic, as they appeared to me the first time I saw them) tables with all the characters sorted according to their "radicals".

Simply said, a character's radical is a part of the character. It may be a single stroke or a complex figure. For example, the radical of the characters , , , , and is their left part . is radical to itself as well. Or, another example, the radical of the characters and is . is also radical to itself.

Therefore, how can you use those two tables?

In the first table you find the list of all radicals sorted by number of strokes. Guess which part of your character is its radical, then follow the reference to the second table page where all characters with that radical (characters with less strokes come first) are listed. Here, if lucky enough, you'll find your character and its pinyin (or the dictionary page number where the character is).

I said "guess" and "if lucky enough" because I know from experience that many times it has been difficult for me to find which part of the character was its radical.

A counsel I can give you is to get acquainted with the list of radicals and to try first the character's left or upper part.

Good practice: Half English, Half Chinese!

What if you don't know how to say in Chinese some words, but you do know the Chinese sentence structure? For example, you already well know how to structure the Chinese sentence for "the radical of is " (or "'s radical is "), but you still don't know the Chinese word for 'radical'. No problem! Just insert the English word 'radical' into a Chinese sentence! The habit of doing so is very useful for learning to think Chinese.

Examples in "Chinglish"

radical

radical

The following dialogue shows how the component parts of Chinese characters are often an object of conversation.

Dialogue 31

A:
B:
A:
什么lin2
B:
A:
B:
什么hu2
A:
什么
B:
明天
A:
再见
B:
再见

How to say: How do you spell it?

"Smith, ess em i tee aitch!" The surname Smith is made up of five letters. To clear up all doubt on how to write it, we just read it letter by letter. Chinese surnames (actually all Chinese characters) are not made up of letters, but of strokes, figures, parts. How can we ask to and actually "spell" a Chinese character? Chinese people "spell" a character in two ways:

  1. refer to the character's component parts;
  2. refer to words composed by that character.

Example 1

Question:
什么 hu2
That is: Out of those characters whose pronunciation is hu2, which one?
Answer:

That is: The character, whose pronunciation is hu2, that is composed by the symbols and .

Example 2

Question:
什么 ming2
That is: Out of those characters whose pronunciation is ming2, which one?
Answer 1:

That is: The character, whose pronunciation is ming2, that is composed by the symbols and .
Answer 2:
明天
That is: The character, whose pronunciation is ming2, that is contained in the word 明天.

Exercise

Use please your dictionary's tables of radicals (you have a dictionary, don't you?) to find meaning and pinyin of tomorrow's characters: , , , and .


That's all for today. I wish you like my website and go on clicking and clicking on its other sections!


Characters' Details

Chinese Character 97 of 1000

appearance score: # 694
frequency: 0.0281301%
Character Help
Animation Help
Strokes Help
4
Pronunciation Help
Meaning Help
-Tree; wood, timber; coffin
-Wooden; plain, simple, honest
-Numb
-(A surname)

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

Chinese Character 98 of 1000

appearance score: # 148
frequency: 0.1417138%
Character Help
Animation Help
Strokes Help
4
Pronunciation Help
Meaning Help
-Culture; writing; language; literary composition; formal ritual; certain natural phenomena
-Tattoo; paint over
-Civil; gentle; elegant; refined; cultured
-(A surname)

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

Chinese Character 99 of 1000

appearance score: # 509
frequency: 0.0415774%
Character Help
Animation Help
Strokes Help
5
Pronunciation Help
Meaning Help
-Antiquity; books of ancient sages
-Ancient; paleo-; archeo-
-(A surname)

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

48   49   50   51   52   53   54

Meet me on Skype?

I will contact you ASAP!

Skype name:
Email (just in case):
Your online teacher

WearYourChineseName - By Giuseppe Romanazzi
Biaoyu Business Consulting Services LTD
Shanghai, China
Copyright © 2001-2020 All Rights Reserved
Wear Your Chinese Name Home Page
| About Us | Privacy Policy | Site Map | Italiano English |


Meet me on Skype?

I will contact you ASAP!

Skype name:
Email (just in case):
Your online teacher