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This article helps you understand the basics of Mandarin Chinese characters and helps you Learning Mandarin Characters.

Mandarin Chinese is not written in a phonetic alphabet in the way that European languages are. Mandarin Chinese characters are used in the writing of the Chinese language. They are called 汉字(hanzi) in Chinese. Mandarin Characters are built from strokes written in a virtual square box. For each Mandarin character, you learn its shape, its pronunciation, its radical, its meanings, and words or idioms that use the character. The way to memorize the shape is to write the Mandarin character over and over again following a specific sequence order, called stroke order. The pronunciations of Mandarin characters are represented using phonetic symbols, called Pinyin. A student needs to learn pinyin, the phonetic system before starting to learn Mandarin characters. In reality, knowing the radical and the exact sequence order of the strokes of each character is not necessary, but recommended for learning Mandarin characters.

As you learn more Mandarin characters, you will start to notice recurring themes and patterns. This will help you to guess the meanings of new Mandarin characters. The more Mandarin characters you learn, the easier it will become for you to learn new ones.

Mandarin Characters' Strokes

A stroke is a single brush of pen on the paper. All Mandarin Chinese characters are made of one or more strokes. Every stroke should be written in a specific way, called stroke order.

Strokes are traditionally classified into eight basic forms.

1. "Dian" - A simple dot.

2. "Heng" - Horizontal stroke, left to right.

3. "Shu" - Vertical stroke, top to bottom.

4. "Gou" - Hook appended to other strokes.

5. "Ti" - Diagonal stroke, rising from left to right.

6. "Pie" - Diagonal stroke, falling from right to left.

7. "Duan Pie" - Short diagonal stroke, falling from right to left.

8. "Na" - Horizontal stroke, falling from left to right.

Mandarin Characters' Radicals

There are around 200 so-called "radicals" or "bushou" in Chinese writing, which are common components of a Chinese character. Some radicals give you a partial idea of the meaning/pronunciation of the Chinese character, while others are pictograms: they visibly resemble the objects they have evolved from.

The most commonly accepted table of radicals for traditional Chinese characters consists of 214 entries.
The following is a list of the most 40 common Chinese radicals.

人 (rén) – person
刀 (dāo) – knife
力 (lì) – power
又 (yòu) – both, again
口 (kǒu) – mouth
囗 (wéi) – enclosure Used as a radical only, not as a character itself
门 (mén) – door
土 (tǔ) – earth
夕 (xī) – sunset
大 (dà) – big, large
女 (nǚ) – female, woman
子 (zǐ) – son
寸 (cùn) – inch
小 (xiǎo) – little, small, young
工 (gōng) – labor, work
幺 (yāo) – tiny, small
弓 (gōng) – bow
马 (mǎ) – horse
心 (xīn) – heart
戈 (gē) – dagger-axe
手 (shǒu) – hand
日 (rì) – sun, day
月 (yuè) – moon
贝 (bèi) – shell
木 (mù) – wood
水 (shuǐ) – water
火 (huǒ) – fire
田 (tián) – field
目 (mù) – eye
示 (shì) – to show
糸 (mì) – fine silk, Used as a radical only, not as a character itself
耳 (ěr) – ear
衣 (yī) – clothing
言 (yán) – speech
走 (zǒu) – to walk
足 (zú) – foot
金 (jīn) – metal, gold
隹 (zhuī) – short tailed bird
雨 (yǔ) – rain
食 (shí) – to eat

Worksheet for Learning How to Write Mandarin Characters

Each Chinese lesson has Printable PDF Chinese worksheet, which provides exercises for the Kids Chinese Podcast MP3 audio Chinese lesson. Using the worksheet, you can practice reading and writing Mandarin characters, words, and daily conversation sentences.

Just like any student needs to do exercise in order to master one subject. Chinese Worksheet is a must for you to learn how to read and write Mandarin Characters and achieve mastering Chinese learning goals.

For more detail on Learning Mandarin Characters, please refer to Chinese characters.


If you are interested in learning Chinese, please take a look at the Free Chinese Lessons that are practical and fun.

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