Structure of the Chinese characters

A Chinese character is made up of one or more components, for example,

Character with one component: 山 (mountain)

Character with two components: (the Sun)      +       (the moon)      =       (bright)

Character with three components: (wood)   +   (eyes)   +  (heart)     =      (to think)

Some components have meanings, but some don’t, and some of them can match up with other components, to form a new character, therefore, a different meaning too.

Generally speaking, there are six formations of the Chinese characters.

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Strictly speaking, there are about 91,251 Chinese characters collected throughout the whole history, and there are 3,500 characters in The List of Frequently Used Characters in Modern Chinese in 1988. Although learning 2,000 characters would probably be sufficed to read newspapers, have a conversation or even live in China.

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