The right route to learning characters

The right route to learning characters

After learning Chinese for quite a while, you should know the right route to learning characters better. The right route will make your vocabulary multiply. To get the right route to learning characters, it’s required to know the property of the compound characters.

A compound character can combine with its semantic component to form a new word




The semantic component of a compound character can be either on the left or on the right to form a new word. Some characters can only combine with its semantic component in one way, that is to say the semantic component can be either on the left or on the right.

Examples:

他 +人 = 他人 others; another person (人 is the semantic component of 他, and it can stay on the right of 他 to form 他人)

人 + 们 = 人们 people; the public (人 is the semantic component of 他, and it can stay on the left of 们 to form 人们)

河 + 水 = 河水 river water (水 is the semantic component of 河, and it can stay on the right of 河 to form 河水)

水 + 流 = 水流 water flow

土 + 堆 = 土堆 mound

打 + 手 = 打手 hired thugs

金 + 钱 = 金钱 money

石 + 碑 = 石碑 stone tablet

明 + 日 = 明日 tomorrow

孩 + 子 = 孩子 child

树 + 木 = 树木 trees

口 + 吃 = 口吃 stutter; stammer

做 + 人 = 做人 behave; conduct oneself

… etc.

We can’t say all the compound characters have this property, but most of them do have it.




Some compound characters can combine with its semantic component in both ways, that is to say the semantic component can be both on the left and on the right.

Examples:

火 + 烧 = 火烧 burn

烧 + 火 = 烧火 make a fire; light a fire

水 + 流 = 水流 current

流 + 水 = 流水 current

水 + 滴 = 滴水 drip

滴 + 水 = 滴水 drip

…etc.

The right route to learning characters: 

To learn any compound character, try to see if it can combine again with its semantic component to form another words.

See also:

How Chinese components form phono-semantic characters?

Compound ideograms

The eight combinations of the semantic and phonetic components

One thought on “The right route to learning characters”

  1. Yes, the Chinese language has a logic to it and you are helping us see that. It is a shame that there are so many useless Chinese language related blogs on the web, but I can not say that about this site. Everything that you are showing us is practical and a real
    part of Chinese. Sooner or later, those reading useless Chinese learning sites will discover this resource and realize that they have been missing something. Keep up the good work.

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