Learn Chinese for Free—Lesson 36

Lesson 36 of 360

Today's Chinese characters:

林木胡古月

Today we introduce the concept of radicals.

Character Knowledge Meter
32.8%
Today with this lesson your knowledge of Chinese characters will reach 32.8% of all the Chinese language usage!

Characters' Essentials

Character Help
Pronunciation Help
lín
Meaning Help
-Forest, woods, grove
-Lin, a surname
Character Help
Pronunciation Help

Meaning Help
Tree; wood, timber
Character Help
Pronunciation Help

Meaning Help
-Moustache, beard
-Hu, a surname
Character Help
Pronunciation Help

Meaning Help
Ancient, paleo-, archeo-

Description and Examples

Dialogue 35

A:
女儿医生认识
B:
认识医生姐姐
A:
B:
A:
妈妈
B:
母亲老师
A:
B:
儿子老师
A:
老师儿子老师妈妈朋友

Radicals

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.

Example in "Chinglish"

radical

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

Dialogue 36

A:
B:
A:
什么lin2?
B:
A:
B:
什么hú?
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 míng
That is: Out of those characters whose pronunciation is míng, which one?
Answer 1:

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


That's all for today. I wish you like my website and go on clicking and clicking on its other sections! However, if you need personalized lessons and want to make your pronunciation perfect click here.

IMPORTANT: About the ads in this page, if you see something inappropriate please tell me immediately (even anonymously) clicking here.


Lesson 36 of 360

Thank you!

WearYourChineseName.com - By Giuseppe Romanazzi
Biaoyu Business Consulting Services LTD
Shanghai, China
Copyright © 2001-2021 All Rights Reserved
wearyourchinesename.com Home Page
| About Us | Privacy Policy | Site Map | Italiano English |


Chinese Lessons on WhatsApp?

Learn Chinese Online

WhatsApp:
Email:
Your online teacher