Learn Chinese for Free—Lesson 21

Lesson 21 of 360

Today's Chinese characters:


The other Chinese characters contained in this lesson have already been studied previously. You can just click on them and go back to the corresponding lesson.

Do you know why these three+three characters come together in this lesson? Do their shapes suggest you anything?

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Today with this lesson your knowledge of Chinese characters will reach 28.7% of all the Chinese language usage!

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Description and Examples

As said in the help page (if you still have not read it, please click here and read it now) Chinese characters are made up of strokes. Anyway, in most cases the strokes constitute fixed units which in turn form characters. These units are called parts.

For example, let's take today's first three characters. As you can see, is made up of two parts: and .

In this case, the "fusion" of these two parts into one has an interesting meaning. Woman plus son equals good!

Woman + Son = Good

+ =

Let's go back a few lessons to the pronouns and , both pronounced "tā". One of them means "she", the other one means "he". Which one means "she"? The one with the woman, of course.

character: left part:

character: left part:

But that's not always the case! If we take today's last three characters, you can see that the character is made up of two parts: and .

In this case, the "merging" of these two parts into one character doesn't mean anything at all: mouth plus horse equals interrogative particle?!? What should that be, a horse with a big question mark instead of its mouth? :-)

Mouth + Horse = interrogative particle

+ =

You may have noticed, however, that and are pronounced with the same syllable (but with a different tone). This sometimes can help to remember the pronunciation. Other times, however, it is even deceptive. So beware.

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Lesson 21 of 360

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