Let’s take a look at examples of some common Chinese characters:
Nihao-“Hello”, literally, “you good”
Wo-“I” and shi-“am”
Chinese Characters originate from pictograms. They have more than 5000 years of history.
In modern Chinese language, there are about 60,000 characters, but an educated Chinese person knows about 5,000-6,000 characters. Some characters are extremely rare and not commonly used.
For a foreigner, knowing between 2,000 and 3,000 characters will be enough to read Chinese newspapers and books.
The common means of classifying Chinese characters is by using radicals. Radicals indicate a category to which a particular character belongs. E.g.: trees, grass, fire, person, etc. So if you see a Chinese character that has a radical ‘grass’ at the top, it will mean that this character belongs to some sort of plant of vegetation. Usually, the radical is on the left or at the top of the character. The other part, known as the phonetic, gives a clue to the pronunciation.
Now let’s talk about how Chinese characters are written. There are some basic rules, as long as you follow them, writing Chinese is not that hard.
Chinese characters are written by combining various kinds of “strokes”-lines, hooks, dots, etc. These “strokes” (radicals, phonetic) are repetative, so once you know them all, you will start recognizing the characters more quickly.
There is a special order when you write Chinese characters, some “strokes” go first, some go after.
Basic rules for writing strokes:
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.
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