Learn Chinese Characters Lesson 3

Strokes Order

In the previous lessons you have come to know that every Chinese character is composed by strokes and you have got the complete list of both simple and complex strokes.

In this lesson you are going to learn that strokes cannot be written in any order one wishes. A definite strokes order must be followed.

You may wonder why (I did!-) After all, wouldn't the result be exactly the same?

In order to understand why, please consider this:

Usually dictionaries list characters alphabetically according to their pronunciation (pin yin). But what if you need to find a character, but you don't know its pronunciation?

Dictionaries have lists of characters grouped by number and/or sequence of strokes, so that you'll find, for example, a list of characters all composed by ten strokes and all starting with a vertical stroke, or a list of ten strokes characters starting with a dot, and so on.

That's why it's imperative to standardize strokes and strokes order.

One more reason:

How would a Chinese girl feel watching you writing a Chinese character ignoring any rule about direction or strokes order? She would feel exactly as you watching someone writing "Frank" this way:

Frank animation

Did you get the point?

As you can see in the table below, I have used animations to illustrate the rules about the right sequence to follow writing Chinese characters. Enjoy it!

horizontal first, vertical laterExample 1Animation 1
left-falling first, right-falling laterExample 2Animation 2
from top to bottomExample 3Animation 3
from left to rightExample 4Animation 4
outside first, inside laterExample 5Animation 5
last close the doorExample 6Animation 6
center first, left and right sides laterExample 7Animation 7
passenger first, car laterExample 8Animation 8

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