Learn Chinese Characters
Learning to read and write Chinese doesn’t need to be hard.
With this guidebook, you’ll be shown how to read clearly, write concisely, and comprehensively understand over 1200 Chinese characters that you’ll see when traveling or on business in China.
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chinEASE will guide you through the foundation and provide you with the necessary tools to learn hundreds, if not thousands of Chinese characters. You’ll also learn interesting words and phrases, as well as Chinese culture and history along the way. If you want to learn how to read and write Chinese, I highly recommend it as your guide! Fiona Tian Founder and Host of MandarinMadeEZ.com
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In This Guidebook, You Will Discover How To…
Finally Understand Chinese Characters
Though you may have been studying the language for a while, use this guidebook to finally get a solid grasp on how Chinese characters are read, written, and pronounced.
Comprehend the World Around You
Never get lost again while traveling. Successfully read street signs and maps. Understand Chinese menus for yourself …and what you’re really ordering!
Communicate Better with Clients
Being able to read Chinese, you’ll not only become more confident with business deals, but you’ll also broaden relations by proving that you actually have an interest in your clients’ culture.
How Does This Guidebook Help You?
Mastering thousands of characters doesn’t have to be an struggle. Like anything else, it just takes the right practice to set you on your way.
This guidebook is designed to help you get that practice, starting you off slowly so that you can fully understand what the basics of Chinese characters are all about. Next, it you learn some of the more difficult aspects of Chinese characters, such as radicals and stroke order. Lastly, you’re taken through practical applications of real-world use, such as how to read menus, understand business cards, and comprehend street signs.
Along the way, you also learn how to read characters you’ve never seen before, and even how to guess at their pronunciation with just one look — native Chinese speakers actually do this all the time too with characters they don’t recognize.
chinEASE provides a systematic layout for studying Chinese characters. From radical formation and character development to how these characters are applied in the modern world, this guide organizes its material in a highly effective and easy-to-use manner. Learners will come away with a greater proficiency in what are often considered two of the most challenging aspects of the language to master — reading and writing. Peggy Lee Founder of PeggyTeachesChinese.com
Are Chinese Characters Actually Tough to Learn?
You’ve probably been trying your best to learn Chinese. Maybe it’s for a college course or maybe you just found it interesting and thought you’d give it a try (like I did over a decade ago). Learning this language is a great idea, so good for you for starting! No doubt you’ve heard people remark how Chinese is going to be so important in the 21st century — China’s century.
However, those same people might have forgotten to tell you that learning Chinese characters is not necessarily a walk in the park at first, and you might have only discovered this after you started.
You’ve probably seen by now that it can be a challenge to remember all the correct pen strokes — if you can make out the individual strokes at all! And how can you possibly know what any of them actually mean or how they’re pronounced? After all, there’s no alphabet to refer to.
Maybe you’re not only trying to read, but also to write. Great challenge, but I’m sure it wasn’t easy at first, right? Maybe it’s still not. Don’t worry though — it gets better from here.
The good news is that learning Chinese doesn’t have to be ridiculously complicated and difficult. And it can even be fun to learn!
What if you could learn it for yourself without the trouble that comes from trying to remember all those new characters?
You can become the language expert you want to be! Maybe even impress a few people while you’re at it. I’ll show you in no time how to read, write, and understand Chinese characters without pulling your hair out or giving up on the first try.
I’ll show you how Chinese characters are actually very methodical in their makeup and how each character you need to learn does not in fact have a unique form from all the other thousands out there.
How Many Characters Do You Need to Actually Read Chinese?
Although 2500-3000 is the “recommended” amount, you might be surprised to know that you can actually get by with far less. In fact, if you know just 200 characters, you’ll be able to recognize about 50% of the characters you come across.
If you increase that number to 1000, you’ll already be at 90%, and that’s a huge jump from 50% just a few seconds ago! Increase again to 2500 characters and that lands you all the way at 98%.
Consider that the average educated Chinese person knows 5000-8000 characters and I think you can start to see how knowing even just 1000 of them (or roughly 1/5 of what an educated Chinese person knows) already allows you to recognize most of the characters (90%) used in China on a daily basis.
When it comes down to it, you have the potential to learn a lot quickly, and while increasing the number of characters you can recognize will obviously help you understand more and more of what you see, all you need is just a couple hundred to get yourself started.
And with the better understanding you’ll get from this book about how Chinese characters are formed, you’ll learn how to start reading every character for yourself, even far beyond the initial 1200 presented here!
This guide “teaches a man to fish” — to actually provide you with a deep understanding of how and why Chinese characters are written like they are — rather than just throwing some random characters at you and making you memorize them blindly!
Never Learned Any Chinese Before Now? No Problem!
In order to help you see why Chinese characters are written like they are today, this guide also goes into depth about how they have changed over time — this will help show you how to better understand their current forms.
For example, as you can see displayed directly below, these four Chinese characters look quite different.
However, upon further inspection, you might come to realize that they’re actually just different forms of the same character!
Look at the character on the left-hand side. You don’t need a good imagination to guess that it’s just a drawing of a sideways horse. And in actual fact, this is how the character for horse was written about 3500 years ago.
All characters used to quite clearly represent the objects that people saw in everyday life, kind of like the simple drawings that you or I might sketch on a piece of paper when bored.
However, these characters also changed over time, and horse is written today like the character on the far right-hand side (but you can still see the four legs at the bottom, and the long tail at the back!)
While no one is expecting you to also learn these ancient character forms, this guidebook does dedicate a section to clearly explaining many of these gradual shifts in character formations so that you’ll be able to better understand the actual modern forms that you will need to learn.
You’ll see that Chinese characters do indeed have a predetermined design and that you too can easily learn to understand them.
chinEASE is a delightful, absorbing, and interesting introduction to Chinese characters which especially appeals to me as a late learner of the language who is still attempting to absorb the fascinating cultural differences between Chinese and English. The book’s approach to providing clear and simple explanations of how characters were developed and how they are constructed and used in everyday situations helps put everything into perspective and makes one feel that reading these figures isn’t nearly as daunting as might be feared when first starting in this language. Jack Feka Retired Entrepreneur
Chinese Writing is Actually Straightforward
Although there are probably more than 50,000 existent characters out there that have been used throughout time, only a few thousand are regularly used today, and probably less if you’re doing more simple tasks that only require certain types of characters.
This is good news for you, since the characters needed, for example, to read a menu, are often similar and easy to learn.
Remember how I said above that many characters share a small set of common parts? On a menu, these parts may indicate animals, so the characters for chicken, turkey, and pheasant would all have a part indicating “bird” within them. If you knew how to spot this “bird,” you would know right away that the menu item you’re looking at is a type of bird dish, probably without having ever learned these characters before.
The picture on the far left presents the character for eternal, or yǒng, and the picture on the right shows the order in which the strokes are written. If you want to write properly in Chinese, you’ll need to learn this skill for every character in the language.
Sound like a big task? Well, it isn’t actually. And this guidebook shows you why.
Chapter 7 specifically goes into great detail about how all Chinese characters are written from top to bottom and from left to right. The character on the left here is no exception. Just count the order and direction of the strokes and see for yourself.
Take a Peek Inside the Guidebook
In Chapter 1, you start by being eased into a basic understanding of some of the most widely-used characters and how they all look just like pictures that you might doodle on a piece of paper when bored or when killing time.
In Chapter 3, we start to break characters down and see exactly how they’ve transformed from “doodles” to the forms they now have today.
In Chapter 7, you’ll learn why Chinese characters have specific spacing properties to them and why a block of Chinese text can actually be more straightforward than a block of English text.
This chapter will prove to be indispensable since you’ll also learn how to properly write characters with their correct stroke orders (something many students really struggle with).
Chapter 9 details the different types of Chinese punctuation. You’ll see several differences from English, but through the detailed usage of example after example, you’ll quickly learn to use these punctuation markers with ease.
Chapter 10 is your true goldmine. I’m sure you know how varied a Chinese menu can actually be. Well, with this in-depth chapter, you’ll come away understanding not only the most important characters for ordering your favorite dishes, but also how to understand those slightly more exotic foods not found here at home.
Duck feet? Beef tongue? Pork ear? Knowing how to recognize the characters for these foods is especially important if you’re not interested in eating them. This way you’ll know how to avoid them completely (but if you are adventurous enough to try them, now you’ll know what to look for!).
Chapter 11 will definitely help you when it comes to conducting business. Understanding what is written on a client’s business card is essential if you want to know how to address them and make a lasting impact in their memory.
With this chapter, you’ll discover how to successfully locate a person’s name on a Chinese business card, their position, and their address, as well as a whole host of the most common Chinese surnames and positions within a company.
Additionally, this guidebook also includes several detailed appendices that contain information about pinyin, or the method of writing Chinese characters with the English alphabet, as well as a chart that includes information on every possible sound combination in the Mandarin Chinese language (hint: the number is far less than in English!).
Moreover, the appendices also include information on how to set up your computer so as to type in Chinese, as well as exercise sheets with grids on which to practice your Chinese writing by hand.
Chinese characters are the most challenging aspect for foreign language learners. However, this guidebook utilizes an effective method and a fun way to master the characters, and has been applied by many Chinese learners to date. I strongly recommend it to anybody who wants to learn how to read and write Chinese effectively. Gerrie Ying Instructor of Chinese Language & Culture Studies
I have never seen another resource like this anywhere. I’ve studied Chinese for over 10 years and I wish I had something this thorough and accessible to get me started. This book is packed with tons of interesting and useful tidbits and is a fantastic value. Tom Hazelton Software Engineer
Full Guidebook Table of Contents
Chapter 2: The Origins of Chinese Characters
- Mythical Beginnings
- The Actual Formation of the First Characters
Chapter 3: Modern Characters
- How Basic Chinese Characters are Formed
- What About Even More Complicated Characters?
- Chinese Radicals
Chapter 4: The Six Character Structure Types
Chapter 5: The Five Major Chinese Scripts
Chapter 6: Character Simplification
- Traditional vs. Simplified Characters
- Second-Round Simplified Characters
Chapter 7: Character Spacing and Stroke Order
- Character Stroke Order
- Names of Individual Strokes
Chapter 8: Outside Influences and Influencers
- Using Chinese Characters to Translate Foreign Ideas
- Substituting in English Vocabulary
- Using Chinese Characters to Write Japanese and Korean
Chapter 9: Other Types of Markings
- Chinese Punctuation
- Chinese Numerals
Chapter 10: Learn to Decode a Chinese Menu
- Common Meats
- Intestines, Brains, and Tongues
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Other Common Foods and Spices
- Methods of Preparation
- Methods of Cooking
- Chinese Dishes: Characters in Context
Chapter 11: Learn to Understand a Chinese Business Card
- How Chinese Names are Formed
- Chinese Phone Numbers and Addresses
- Common Chinese Surnames
- Names of Positions within a Company
Chapter 12: Take the Long Road to Learning Chinese
Chapter 13: How to Get Good at Mandarin in 4 Steps
Appendix A: An Introduction to Pinyin
Appendix B: Chart of All Possible Sounds in Mandarin
Appendix C: How to Type in Chinese
Appendix D: Practice Grids to Improve your Chinese Handwriting
BONUS: 36 Extra Resources for Further Study
I always thought learning Chinese was an impossible task that just didn’t make any sense. But after reading this guide, it made me realize that it’s very possible for beginners to excel when learning Chinese characters, even if you have no prior knowledge. I’ve gone from knowing nothing to being able to read another language and THIS IS AWESOME! I would absolutely recommend this guide to anyone who wants to get a good handle on reading and writing in Chinese. Braden James Internet Marketer
Here’s What You’ll Get in the Guidebook Package
- chineEASE, 160-page full-color PDF guidebook
- Bonus handbook #1: Your First 50 Chinese Phrases
- Bonus handbook #2: Your Next 100 Chinese Phrases
- Special report on learning foreign languages
- Pinyin pronunciation chart
- 88 most common Chinese radicals chart
- Chinese character practice grids
- 36 bonus resources
A Few Words From The Author
My name is Aaron Posehn and I’ve compiled over 15 years of experience studying Mandarin Chinese to let you see first-hand how simple it actually can be to learn this notoriously tricky script.
Although Chinese characters may appear daunting at first, it’s likely that you have yet to grasp their distinctive subtleties.
Find out why Chinese characters are actually very systematic in their formation, and by extension, why this means that they’re absolutely 100% accessible to a language learner like you.
Questions about the guidebook?
If you have any questions about this guidebook, or about learning Chinese in general, feel free to contact Aaron at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy learning from chinEASE and gaining a deeper understanding of how to read and write one of the most widely used languages on the planet today!