Radicals and components of Characters

Radicals and components of Characters

A.   Basic Chinese radicals (部首, bùshǒu)

About 80% of all characters are phono-semantic or picto-phonetic characters with with one component indicating meaning and the other referring to the pronunciation. Traditionally, Chinese characters are grouped according to their shared components known as “radicals(部首, bùshǒu)”. There are about 200 radicals(部首, bùshǒu)” in most Chinese dictionaries.

According to previous students, knowing well the radicals and other basic components of characters helps a lot to recognize, remember, and reproduce characters and thus makes the character learning process more effective and easier. Knowing the radicals is also a must when using dictionaries that arrange characters according to their radicals. When you are writing character, spend some time on analyzing the structure and components of a character, then write it component by component, instead of stroke by stroke.

The following is a selection of radicals that will be helpful for you to know and make your characters learning process more effective when starting to learn characters.

Please click basic radicals to download the character worksheet to practice the 55 most commonly used radicals.


B. Structures of Chinese characters

The pattern of Chinese character structures can be roughly categorized into the following types:

  • Single structure 一 二  三  人 王 日
  • Left (,middle) and right structure 你 好  吗;谁
  • Top (,middle) and down structure 老 美  名 字 贵
  • Semi-enclosure structure         还
  • Enclosure structure                  国