Chinese radicals

Radicals are common components in Chinese characters. Some indicate pronunciation and some suggest meaning. E.g.


Some radicals themselves may be single-component characters, such as 女 and 马.

However, some are not single-component characters, but may be combined with other components to form characters. E.g. 氵(shuǐ – water)- together with 工 (gōng – work) forms 江 (jiāng – river).

In order to understand and write Chinese characters correctly, it is important to make sense of the radicals.



木 (mu4) means tree or wood as a single character. It is a radical too. It can be put left, right, underneath or inside of a character indicating things related to tree or wood.


A person leaning against a tree makes the character for ‘rest’ (休, pinyin: xiū).

Radicals can be placed on the left, right, top, bottom and outside of a Chinese character.

Images courtesy of Chineasy.


Punctuation marks


(Xiao Mei’s mother has a farm, there is a white horse, a goat and a calf.)

Here we see three different punctuation marks; the first is ‘,’, the second is ‘、’ and the third is ‘。’. The first mark, ‘,’ (dou4 hao4) is a Chinese comma.

The second mark, ‘、’ (dun4 hao4), is used to separate items in a list. You can call it a ‘pause mark’ or ‘enumeration comma’. In English, you would use a comma or ‘and’ for this purpose; in Chinese, we either use the pause mark, ‘、’ (dun4 hao4) or the character ‘和’ (he2; and).

The last mark, ‘。’ (ju4 hao4), is the equivalent of a ‘.’ (full stop) in English. It is used to mark the end of a sentence.

Of course, those aren’t the only Chinese punctuation marks. Let me know if you want to learn more!

Source: Chineasy


So, what are the new marks for today? There are THREE of them: () (round brackets, aka parenthesis; yuan2 gua1 hao4), : (colon; mao4 hao4) and 「」 (single quotation marks or Left/right corner bracket; yin3 hao4). The first two punctuation marks (yuan2 gua1 hao4 and mao4 hao4) are used exactly like () and : in English.

The third punctuation mark, 「」 (single quotation marks or left/right corner bracket; yin3 hao4), is similar to ‘’ (single quotation marks) and “” (double quotation marks) in English; they can be used for proper nouns, titles, quoted speech and sometimes for emphasis. One thing to note is that Western-style quotation marks are used in simplified Chinese, but traditional Chinese writing will use 「」.

Here is a summary of today’s Chinese punctuation marks:

1. () (round brackets aka parenthesis; yuan2 gua1 hao4 圓括號/圆括号) is like ‘()’.
2. : (colon; mao4 hao4 冒號/冒号) is like ‘:’.
3. 「」 (single quotation marks; yin3 hao4 引號/引号) are like ‘’ and “” in traditional Chinese

Source: Chineasy

Chinese characters


Which of the following characteristics stand out when you think of Chinese characters? Balanced, symmetrical or aesthetic?

In today’s better-writing task, you will need to use more than one characteristic from the above to help you decide which character is best. What you need to do is to choose the best character for the word ‘six’ from the three grids. Just give us the grid number (in the comments below). I would be great if you could also tell us why you chose your answer. Like this: 

I think grid ….. is the better writing for ‘six’ because it is….. (one of the characteristics) and …. (one of the characteristics).

Good luck!



There are three characteristics of Chinese characters: balanced, symmetrical and aesthetic.

On that note, let’s take a look at the answer to this challenge:

Of the 3 grids, grid 3 was the best because the character in it is balanced and symmetrical.

Grid 1 — the two strokes in the bottom of the grid are too short, which makes the top bit (亠) look slightly out of proportion.

Move to grid 2 — the left-to-right stroke in the bottom is too short, which makes the character looks a bit unbalanced.

How about ‘aesthetic’? Of course, being Chinese, I do think Chinese characters are very beautiful to look at. How about to you? What written languages do you appreciate in an artistic way?

Source: Chineasy

Chinese strokes


This stroke is called 橫 (heng2) in Chinese. Remembering the shape and writing order is most important, but it’s useful to learn the name too!

(Traditional, Simplified and Kanji)
Pronunciation/Stroke Order:
一 (yi1): http://bit.ly/1ywQ19f
二 (er4): http://bit.ly/1xtWZKz

Source: Chineasy


The second stroke is called 豎 (shu4) and a pretty simple one too! A straight vertical line drawn from top to bottom.

Now, if we look at the character 十, we can say that it is composed of two strokes: 橫 (heng2) and 豎 (shu4). Now it is your turn, what strokes is the character 工 made up of? Can you list them in the correct order?

(Traditional and Simplified)
Pronunciation/Stroke Order:
十 (shi2): http://bit.ly/1Bw9inb
工 (gong1): http://bit.ly/1vr2SVy

Source: Chineasy


This stroke is called 點 /点 (dian3) in Chinese. Sometimes it appears on the top of the character like the example on the left 主 and sometimes it hides away between strokes like the example on the right 玉.

Using our new knowledge, we can say that 主 is composed like this: One 點 /点 (dian3), three 橫 (heng2) and one 豎 (shu4). How is 玉 composed? Try it on your own!

(Traditional and Simplified)
Pronunciation/Stroke Order:
主 (zhu3): http://bit.ly/1rns8wV
玉 (yu4): http://bit.ly/1mGMlwf

Source: Chineasy



The stroke used in both examples in the image above is called 撇 (pie3) and is a downward falling stroke that always travels from right to left. When you practice this stroke, or write it in a Chinese character, make sure you do it slowly. If you do it too fast, the curve won’t be smooth!

Using our new stroke, we can say that the component 亻 (the compound form of person) is composed of 撇 (pie3) and 豎 (shu4). Likewise, the character 人 is composed of 撇 (pie3) and ??

Pinyin: ren2
(Traditional, Simplified and Kanji)
Pronunciation/Stroke Order:
人: http://bit.ly/1nA5wZn
亻: http://bit.ly/1yI69AY

Source: Chineasy


This stroke is a mirrored version of 撇. It’s called 捺 (na4; down stroke to the right). To write this stroke correctly, start from the top and move to the bottom right. That’s pretty easy!

So now we know that 人 is composed of the strokes – 撇 (pie3) and 捺 (na4). How about the other character (木) in the image? First of all, count how many different strokes there are in the character and then try to name them one by one. I know you can do it!

(Traditional, Simplified and Kanji)
Pronunciation/Stroke Order:
人 (ren2): http://bit.ly/1nA5wZn
木 (mu4): http://bit.ly/1x883f4

Source: Chineasy




The two characters in today’s image share a common stroke. Do you know which one I’m referring to?

It is called 豎鈎 (shu4 gou1; vertical hook). It starts with a 豎 (shu4; vertical stroke) and ends with the 鈎 (gou1; hook) at the bottom. You can remember that the stroke 豎鈎 follows the same writing direction as the English letter “J”.

Can you think of any other characters you learnt that has a 豎鈎? 

Source: Chineasy



Do you remember all the basic Chinese strokes we have learnt since October? Let’s recap them quickly! They are:

橫 (heng2; horizontal stroke): http://on.fb.me/1zkgyXK
豎 (shu4; vertical stroke): http://on.fb.me/1BN1gfj
點 (dian3; dot): http://on.fb.me/1wYg9n4
撇 (pie3; down-stroke to the left): http://on.fb.me/1xTDTfT
捺 (na4; down-stroke to the right): http://on.fb.me/1yjJ7jf
豎勾 (shu4-gou1; vertical hook): http://on.fb.me/1tzv1aa

Today, the new stroke we’re going to learn is called 提 (ti2; rising stroke), which looks like a forward slash (/)! Be careful, 提 can be easily mistaken for 撇 (pie3; down-stroke to the left). The way to distinguish between these two strokes is the way we write them.

For 撇 (pie3; down-stroke to the left), we write from top-right to the bottom-left. 提 (ti2; rising stroke) starts from the bottom-left and ends at the top-right.

Now, here comes a challenge for you! In our illustration of 扣 (to fasten), it is the combination of 扌(the component form of 手: hand), and 口 (mouth). Let’s focus on 扌and see if you could name the strokes in 扌in correct writing order?? Good luck!


Source: Chineasy


永 means “forever”. There’s something special about this character when we associate it with basic Chinese strokes. Can you guess why?

Let’s try to name each stroke one by one in the character 永. I have filled in the first two strokes and the last one for you below. Can you fill in the blanks?

點 (dian3) -> 橫 (heng2) -> …… -> 捺 (na4)

If you’d like to know how to write 永 correctly, here’s a video for you: http://bit.ly/1yymbwM

Source: Chineasy

Stroke called 橫鈎 (heng2 gou1; horizontal hook) is classified as an advanced, compound stroke. Compound strokes combine two or more basic strokes in one SINGLE stroke, which you write without lifting the pen.

For example, when you write the compound stroke 橫鈎, the two basic strokes are 橫 ( horizontal line) and 鈎 (a hook), write it out in one go.

Now, let’s put what you just learnt into practice. How would you write the building block 宀 (roof) correctly?
Like this:
1. 點 (dian3; dot)
2. 撇 (pie3; downward falling stroke)
3. 橫鈎 (heng2 gou1; horizontal hook)

The correct number of strokes in 宀 is three. If someone tells you that there are four strokes in 宀, it’s because they didn’t write 橫鈎 as a compound stroke!

Now, it’s your turn to show us what you learnt today. How would you write the character牢 correctly, and how many strokes are in it?

Too easy? Here’s an extra challenge: Do you know why some Chinese compound strokes, such as 橫鈎 (heng2 gou1; horizontal hook) or 豎鈎 (shu4 gou1; vertical hook) is written in one stroke?

(Traditional and Simplified)
Pronunciation/Stroke Order:
宀 (mian2): http://bit.ly/14Xyfya
牢 (lao2): http://bit.ly/1xokQal

Source: Chineasy


In Chinese writing, there are two major types of strokes, one is called ‘basic stroke’ and the other is called ‘advance stroke’ or ‘compound stroke’. If you are confused about what a compound stroke is, here’s a quick review:

Compound strokes combine two or more basic strokes in a SINGLE stroke, which you write without lifting the pen.

Do you remember the compound strokes that I’ve already taught you? They are:
豎鈎 (shu4 gou1; vertical hook): http://on.fb.me/1Cew7iR
橫鈎 (heng2 gou1; horizontal hook): http://on.fb.me/1zHhOxO

Today, I’m going to teach you a new one – 彎鈎/弯鈎 (wan1 gou1; curved hook). As its name suggests, there is a curve in the 彎鈎 stroke. So, in the image, among all the strokes in 豕, can you tell which stroke is the 彎鈎 stroke?

Yes, the 3rd stroke in the example 豕.

Once you can spot 彎鈎 easily in a character, the next step is to learn to write it. When you write 彎鈎 stroke, start it vertically, then gradually curve the stroke to the right, then end with a hook. Give it a try and share your good work with us!

Source: Chineasy


Q1: which character has two 橫 strokes?
a) 人 b) 本 c) 川

Q2: which character has two 豎 strokes?
a) 二 b) 竹 c) 川

Not sure about what 橫 or 豎 mean? Don’t worry, you can catch up here:
橫: http://on.fb.me/1Mvg17s
豎: http://on.fb.me/1B7ffgz

Both 橫 and 豎 belong to what we call basic Chinese strokes. Besides these basic ones, there are some strokes that are classified as compound strokes. Compound strokes combine two or more basic strokes in one SINGLE stroke, which you write without lifting the pen.

We’ve covered three compound strokes so far. There’s 橫鈎 (horizontal hook; on.fb.me/1zHhOxO), 豎鈎 (vertical hook; on.fb.me/1Cew7iR) and 彎鈎/弯鈎 (curved hook; on.fb.me/1INaE5H). Today, I am going to teach you a new one – 橫折 (heng2 zhe2; horizontal turning).

橫折 (horizontal turning) stroke is made up of a horizontal (橫) stroke with a pause at the TURN (折) then continue on with the downwards part. When you look at our examples, the 橫折 stroke appears after the first vertical stroke on the left.

Some of you may wonder, what’s the difference between 橫折 (horizontal turning) and 橫鈎 (horizontal hook) since they look so similar? An easy way to tell them apart is to remember that when you see the mouth shape (口), it’s always 橫折 (horizontal turning), and when you see the roof shape (宀), it’s always 橫鈎 (horizontal hook). So, how about the character 国? Does it have a 橫折 or a 橫鈎?

Here is a little challenge for you: take a look at the character 五 (wu3; five). How do you write 五 correctly? Write the stroke order down below in the comments section.

1. 橫 (heng2; horizontal stroke)
2. 豎 (shu4; vertical stroke)
3. _________ (橫折 or 橫鈎?)
4. 橫 (heng2; horizontal stroke)

Source: Chineasy