Components of Chinese Characters

[green_message]Larger Chinese characters are cobbled together from smaller ones. In fact, there may be half a dozen different component characters inside a large Chinese character And certain component characters are particularly common as building blocks for larger characters.

The most common component characters are the 214 “radicals” (root characters). These are usually found on the left-hand sides of larger characters. But there are also non-radical component characters that have well-known meanings.

Understanding the meanings of these component characters helps with the interpretation of larger characters because the meanings of the smaller components reveal the “story” behind the larger characters. Learning some common components – like the characters for “door” and “person”  – can be the first step in adding many dozens of words to your Chinese vocabulary.

All characters in this animation are Traditional (rather than Simplified) characters.

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