Chinese characters originate from pictograms. They have more than 5000 years of history.
In modern Chinese, there are about 60,000 characters, but most educated Chinese know about 5,000-6,000 characters. Some characters are extremely rare and not commonly used. For a foreigner who learns Chinese, knowing between 2,000 and 3,000 Chinese will be enough to be fluent in reading Chinese newspapers and books.
Now let’s talk about how Chinese characters are written. There are some basic rules you need to follow, as long as you follow them, writing Chinese will be a piece of cake for you. :-D
Chinese characters are written by combining various kinds of “strokes”-lines, hooks, dots, etc. Actually, these “strokes” are always repeating, so once you know them all, you are good to go. There is a special order when you write Chinese characters, some “strokes” go first, some go after.
Here are the rules of writing Chinese characters, as I said, some “strokes” should be written before the others.
- Horizontal stroke always goes before vertical.
- Downward-left goes before downward-right.
- Generally, strokes should be written from left to right.
- And from top to bottom.
- From outside to inside.
- Outside part is always written before the inside part, and when closing the character ( for inner parts ).
- Middle stroke is written before two sides, if there are any.
Now let’s take a look at examples of some common characters in Mandarin Chinese:
Nihao-”Hello”, literally, “you good”
Wo-”I” and shi-”am”
When you subscribe for PDF transcripts and worksheets of our lessons, you will see that we use both traditional and simplified versions of Chinese characters. What’s the difference between the traditional and simplified characters? Well, traditional characters are used in Taiwan and simplified in China, you will have a choice to access both versions. Considering China’s role in today’s world, most people prefer simplified characters, unless if you have a special interest in ancient Chinese literature or live in Taiwan, then you choose traditional characters.
Now you can also learn Chinese characters from our writing video lessons. Please sign up and become a registered member.