Asia Blog: China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam

Chinese 101-102: Learning Chinese Characters

Posted in China, Language by Elliott Back on May 11th, 2006.

For Chinese 101-102 at Cornell University, we have to learn about 250 Traditional Chinese characters (hanzi 汉字). We’re using P.C. T’ung & D.E. Pollard’s Character Text, which can be bought off Amazon relatively cheaply. It gives stroke order, vocabulary, simplifications, and little dialogues and sketches translated from its companion book, Colloquial Chinese. Here I want to present a simple lesson in basic Chinese words, but more for my own practice in the language than for you to learn how to read or write or speak Chinese. Standard pinyin and characters will be used, though without tone markings. I will also attempt to classify words into useful categories roughly by part of speech.

Nouns:

  • 天气 – Tianqi – Weather
  • 同志 – Tongzhi – Comrade
  • 人 – Ren – Person
  • 名字 – Mingzi – Name
  • 地方 – Difang – Place
  • 咖啡 – Kafei – Coffee
  • 茶 – Cha – Tea
  • 电视 – Dianshi – TV
  • 文 – Wen – Writing
  • 书 – Shu – Book
  • 外国人 – Waiguoren – Foreigner
  • 菜 – Cai – Dish [of food]
  • 反 – Fan – Cooked rice
  • 朋友 – Pengyou – Friend
  • 晚上 – Wanshang – Evening
  • 水 – Shui – Water
  • 酒 – Jiu – Wine
  • 普通话 – Putong Hua – Common Tongue
  • 老师 – Laoshi – Teacher
  • 字典 – Zidian – Dictionary
  • 汉字 – Hanzi – Chinese characters
  • 女人 – Nuren – Women
  • 男人 – Nanren – Men
  • 孩子 – Haizi – Child
  • 孙子 – Sunzi – Grandchild
  • 家 – Jia – Home / Family
  • 客人 – Keren – Guest(s)
  • 鸡 – Ji – Chicken
  • 鱼 – Yu – Fish
  • 青菜 – Qingcai – Green Vegetables
  • 钱 – Qiang – Money
  • 份报 – Fenbao – A newspaper

Place Names:

  • 中国 – Zhongguo – China
  • 北京 – Beijing – Peking
  • 上海 – Shanghai – Shanghai
  • 英国 – Yingguo – England
  • 美国 – Meiguo – America
  • 德国 – Deguo – Germany
  • 法国 – Faguo – France

Forms of Address:

  • 小姐 – Xiaojie – Miss
  • 先生 – Xiansheng – Mr
  • 太太 – Taitai – Mrs
  • 夫人 – Furen – Madam
  • 父母 – Fumu – Parents
  • 妈 – Ma – Mother

Time Words:

  • 今天 – Jintian – Today
  • 昨天 – Zuotian – Yesterday
  • 年 – Nian – Year

Measure Words:

  • 位 – Wei – For persons
  • 两 – Liang – For two of a thing
  • 本 – Ben – A volume of a book
  • 岁 – Sui – For years of age
  • 个 – Ge – Generic classifier
  • 杯 – Bei – For a cup of a drink
  • 口 – Kou – For wells, family members
  • 只 – Zhi – For birds and animals, pairs
  • 条 – Tiao – For fish and other long narrow things
  • 瓶 – Ping – A bottle of

Pronouns:

  • 我 – Wo – I
  • 你 – Ni – You
  • 您 – Nin – You (Polite)
  • 他 – Ta – Him
  • 她 – Ta – Her
  • 我们 – Women – Us
  • 你们 – Nimen – You
  • 他们 – Tamen – They
  • 这 – Zhe / Zhei – This
  • 那 – Na / Nei – That

Question Words:

  • 谁 – Shei – Who
  • 什么 – Shenme – What
  • 哪 – Na / Nei – Which
  • 几 – Ji – How many
  • 多少 – Duoshao – How many
  • 怎么 – Zenme – How
  • 怎么样 – Zenme Yang – In what manner

Stative Verbs:

  • 好 – Hao – Good
  • 冷 – Leng – Cold
  • 热 – Re – Hot
  • 忙 – Mang – Busy
  • 早 – Zao – Early
  • 老 – Lao – Old
  • 小 – Xiao – Young
  • 累 – Lei – Tired
  • 大 – Da – Big

Adjectives:

  • 华侨 – Huaqiao – Overseas chinese
  • 半 – Ban – Half of a thing

Adverbs:

  • 很 – Hen – Very
  • 不 – Bu – Not
  • 真 – Zhen – Really
  • 也 – Ye – Also
  • 都 – Dou – All
  • 再 – Zai – Again
  • 只 – Zhi – Only
  • 常常 – Changchang – often
  • 应该 – Yinggai – Ought to
  • 一点儿 – Yidianr – A little
  • 就 – Jiu – Just now
  • 因为 – Yinwei – Because
  • 所以 – Suoyi – Therefore
  • 总 – Zong – Always
  • 多 – Duo – Many
  • 一定 – Yiding – Certainly
  • 一共 – Yigong – Altogether
  • 还 – Hai – Still

Particles:

  • 吗 – Ma – Questions
  • 呢 – Ne – Followups
  • 啊 – A – Intensifier
  • 吧 – Ba – Suggestion
  • 跟 – Gen – Along with
  • 的 – De – Possession
  • 对 – Dui – Towards

Verbs:

  • 请 – Qing – Please
  • 坐 – Zuo – To sit down
  • 见 – Jian – To see
  • 爱 – Ai – To love
  • 姓 – Xing – To be surnamed
  • 是 – Shi – To be
  • 叫 – Jiao – To be called
  • 进 – Jin – To come in
  • 问 – Wen – To be excused
  • 喝 – He – To drink
  • 看 – Kan – To look [at]
  • 喜欢 – Xihuan – To like
  • 吃 – Chi – To eat
  • 学 – Xue – To study
  • 会 – Hui – To be able to
  • 说话 – Shuohua – To talk [speech]
  • 想 – Xiang – To think/plan/want to
  • 谢谢 – Xiexie – Thanks
  • 做 – Zuo – To do / make
  • 有 – You – To have / There is / To exist
  • 没有 – Meiyou – To not have
  • 能 – Neng – To be able to
  • 要 – Yao – To want
  • 可以 – Keyi – To be permitted
  • 知道 – Zhidao – To know [something]
  • 买 – Mai – To buy
  • 够 – Gou – To be enough
  • 行 – Xing – To pass muster, to be OK
  • 准 – Zhun – To be allowed / To allow [something]
  • 抽烟 – Chou – To smoke
  • 对不起 – Duibuqi – To be sorry
  • 用 – Yong – To use

Surnames:

  • 张 – Zhang
  • 王 – Wang
  • 李 – Li
  • 汤 – Tang

Numbers:

  • 一 – Yi – 1
  • 二 – Er – 2
  • 三 – San – 3
  • 四 – Si – 4
  • 五 – Wu – 5
  • 六 – Liu – 6
  • 七 – Qi – 7
  • 八 – Ba – 8
  • 九 – Jiu – 9
  • 十 – Shi – 10

Of course, the characters we’re using are all in traditional, so forgive any incorrect simplified characters. This list represents the first five chapters of basic characters I am studying for my test. There seven or eight more that I also need to know, which are more complicated than I have time to put up here. If you want to correct some bad translation, just leave me a comment!

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 11th, 2006 at 12:05 pm and is tagged with . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback.

6 Responses to “Chinese 101-102: Learning Chinese Characters”

  1. china man says:

    dude. what the ****? you have too much ******* time! get a life.

  2. Living in Shanghai says:

    Nice work. Quite a handy little reference guide.

    Correction:
    饭 – rice -left out the radical. 
    问 – question. If I wanted to ask you something (我想问你…)
    普通话 – translated would mean common language, but used in China to specifically mean Mandarin.

    another measuring word:

    辆 – liang – measuring particle for cars. (一辆车)

    (how I stumbled onto this site whilst looking for bee tatoos remain a mystery)

  3. fase says:

    I think the language chart is absolutely great idea. I’ve bookmark, i always wanted to learn how to speak chinese and the chart is definitly a good start.

  4. tea fans says:

    补充2个
    喝茶 (he cha) drink tea
    茶楼 (cha lou) tea house(room)

  5. yuri yoshizaki says:

    Awesome dude

  6. Tony says:

    Hi Pal! Cool stuff! Just one tip, in China we don’t say 份报. Actually we say 报纸 (Bao Zhi), if you mean newspaper. By the way, that tatoo you saw in Mexico is 知.

    Have fun

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