There are many characters in Chinese that look o sound very similar. If you feel tough to learn them, just take minutes to check out how to master them.
Semantic components really do count for differentiating the meaning
To differentiate characters with the same structure, the first thing to do is check the semantic components.
Let’s take these four characters for example 赢, 羸, 蠃 and 嬴.
赢 yíng, 羸 léi, 蠃 luǒ, 嬴 yíng are four characters that look very similar in writing because of the same structure, but they are totally different in meaning.
The key to distinguishing between them is to check the semantic components：贝 shell, 羊 sheep, 虫 worm, 女 female.
贝 shell denotes money, so 赢 relates to money and it means: win, make money, get profit, etc. The ancients believed that sheep 羊 is a weak animal, so 羸 relates to weak. 蠃 contains 虫, so it relates to a species of parasitoids or a bug. 嬴 contains 女, and 女 is a person, so 嬴 means something related to a person (嬴 is a surname).
To differentiate characters with both the similar writing and similar pronunciation, the first thing to do is still check the semantic components.
Let’s see another example 弩, 努 and 驽
弩, 努 and 驽 have the similar pronunciation because they share the same phonetic component 奴, but their semantic components are 弓, 力, and 马. Therefore, you can get that 弩 must have a meaning related to 弓, 努 to 力, and 驽 to 马.
From these examples, you can see that semantic components really count in character learning. Remember to spot the semantic component before you differentiate between the similar characters.
Phonetic components really do count for making so many characters with the same or similar pronunciation
Many Chinese characters look very similar because they have the same structure and share the same component such as 赢, 羸 and 蠃; 街 and 衔; etc. If you are not clear about the character structure, check it now.
Also, there are many characters that sound the same or alike because they share the same phonetic component. Examples: 油 邮 抽 袖 柚; 桶 诵 捅 俑 涌; 苹, 评, 萍, 坪, 枰.
There are also many characters that not only look alike but also sound alike because they share the same structure and the same phonetic component such as 裁, 栽, 载.
We all know that the vast majority of Chinese characters are phono-semantic characters. Therefore, you will meet lots of phono-semantic characters with the same or similar pronunciation because they share the same phonetic components such as 架, 驾; 忠, 钟; 峦, 恋; 惕, 踢, 剔, 锡; etc.
So you are eager to know which components can serve as phonetic components to form many characters with the same or similar pronunciation? To find them out, don’t forget to check the components learning.
More examples of similar characters: