The 100 Most Common Chinese Characters

The 100 Most Common Chinese Characters

Have you ever wondered what the most common Chinese characters are? In a language of approximately 50,000 individual characters, mastering the most commonly used Chinese characters—and knowing their order of frequency—will benefit you on your path to language...

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Guilin Opera is a beloved artform throughout southern China and is one of country's ten major forms of opera. This kind of opera utilizes 桂林话 (Guìlín huà, Guilin dialect) and various regional 方言 (fāngyán, dialects) to tell stories of tragedy and comedy. Guilin Opera...

The Anatomy of Chinese Characters

The Anatomy of Chinese Characters

Reading and writing Chinese characters is often considered the most ambitious challenge that language students face in order to achieve fluency. Indeed, the intricacies which have shaped this character system over thousands of years are both complex and vast. While...

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10 Reasons to Study Mandarin in Guilin

10 Reasons to Study Mandarin in Guilin

十 Great public transportation of Guilin Near and far Guilin is connected with buses, 面包车, domestic and international flights, conventional & bullet trains (it's now 2.5 hours to Guangzhou from Guilin by bullet train). 九 Ideal city size at 1 million people Guilin...

Concept Chinese

You’ve come to the right place to learn Chinese. At Concept Chinese:

1. We use English to illuminate how the Chinese language works. Through simple English, we explain Chinese.

2. We use frequency dictionaries to introduce everyday vocabulary first based on how frequently the term or structure in question comes up in a typical day.

3. We aim to take a simple and direct path to explaining the Chinese language and sharing an optimal order to learn it.

The 100 Most Common Chinese Characters

Have you ever wondered what the most common Chinese characters are?

In a language of approximately 50,000 individual characters, mastering the most commonly used Chinese characters—and knowing their order of frequency—will benefit you on your path to language greatness. Whether you’re a new learner ready to begin reading and writing Chinese or a seasoned student brushing up on the basics, learners of all levels benefit from reviewing the most essential Chinese characters. The following list of 100 most common Chinese characters is based on data from classical and modern Chinese writings collected by linguist Jun Da.

The 100 Most Common Chinese characters:

10 Reasons to Study Mandarin in Guilin

Near and far Guilin is connected with buses, 面包车, domestic and international flights, conventional & bullet trains (it’s now 2.5 hours to Guangzhou from Guilin by bullet train).

Guilin is large enough that it offers many of the options you’d expect of a modern city yet Guilin’s small enough that you can traverse the city in about a 30 minute bike ride or 12 minute taxi cab ride (which would cost roughly 15rmb, about $2.50 USD).

Guilin has the feel of a hybrid between country and urban. Downtown is bustling with excitement while riding a bicycle 20 minutes in any direction will take you to tranquil countryside.

No.CharacterpīnyīnEng­lish
1de(possessive particle), of / really and truly / aim, clear
2yī / yì /yíone / single / a(n)
3shìis, are, am, yes to be
4(negative prefix) no, not
5le/liǎo(modal particle intensifying preceding clause), (past tense marker) / to know, to understand, to know
6rénman, person, people
7I, me, myself
8zài(located) at, in, exist
9yǒuto have, there is, there are, to exist, to be
10he, him
11zhèthis/ these
12wéi / wèi act as, take…to be, to be, to do, to serve as, to become / because of, for, to
13zhīhim, her, it
14big, huge, large, major, great, wide, deep, oldest, eldest / doctor
15láito come
16to use, take, according to, because of, in order to
17(a measure word), individual
18zhōngwithin, among, in, middle, center, while (doing something), during
19shàngabove, on, over, top, (go) up, last, previous
20men(plural marker for pronouns and a few animate nouns)

Make it your own

“Travel writing should be exciting to read. It should make the reader feel like they are next to you on the powdery beach with a warm breeze tickling their shoulders. They should be able to taste the curry, rich with coconut milk, lime, and lemongrass. They should be able to hear the chaos of the city traffic and smell the sewage wafting from the grimy streets,” says Katie Diederichs of Two Wandering Soles, which she runs with her husband, Ben Zweber.

In other words, details matter, and so does your unique perspective.

“Figure out what’s important to you and focus on that; write about your experience, and what’s unique about it. We live in a world where so much information is at our fingertips, but the way you experienced a trip—your emotions, your reactions, the crazy things that went wrong, the people you met and chatted with—is unique. That’s what makes interesting writing,” says Kendle.

Know the general rules of travel writing

Every type of writing has its own conventions—things that are expected and generally agreed upon as best practices within the space. For travel blogs, that often means the writing should:

  • Be written in first-person
  • Tell the story in the past tense
  • Be conversational in tone (dialogue can be useful here)
  • Contain sensory details
  • Give the reader value in some way, whether that’s providing useful tips for navigating or insight into a culture
  • Make it relatable to the audience

Since you’ll also be writing online, readability is key. For Diederichs, that means doing things like including a table of contents so the reader can jump to what they’re looking for, using short paragraphs, bolding key sentences, and segmenting the article with subheads. She adds, “Also, keep in mind that the majority of your audience is likely coming from mobile, so make sure that the text is an appropriate size and it is easy to read while scrolling.”

You don’t have to stick to the established rules and conventions, but it’s helpful to know what’s common—that way you’ll be able to break those rules with intention and purpose, rather than accidentally.

Intermediate 1 – ¡Bienvenidos!

Vocabulario y gramática:

1. Te pones rojo – Ponerse rojo se refiere en este caso al cambio de color en la piel bajo los
efectos del sol – to get sunburned. Ponerse rojo también significa tener vergüenza – to go
red from embarrassment.

2. Informática – Tecnología y ordenadores – I.T.

3. Consultora – Empresa que presta empleados especialistas a otras empresas – Consultancy, e.g. Accenture, Deloitte & Touch…

4. Quería que nos contases – Nota gramatical: “Querer que + subjuntivo”, e.g. Quiero que tomemos una cerveza antes de cenar.

5. Da igual que tu eres – ¡Error de Ben! “Da igual que + subjuntivo” = Da igual que tu seas… “Da igual que…” significa que no importa – it doesn’t matter.

6. Por si acaso – Just in case. Por ejemplo: Parece que va a llover… Voy a llevarme el
paraguas por si acaso.

7. Yendo – Nota gramatical: Yendo es el gerundio del verbo ir – Going.

8. Problema (m.) – Problem. Una profesora de Ben le enseño una manera muy buena de
acordarse de que ‘problema’ es masculino: “Es como todo en la vida, ¡los problemas son
masculinos, y las soluciones femeninas!”

9. Cita a ciegas – Cuando tienes una cita, o has quedado, con alguien que no conoces –
Blind date.

10. Estoy el chico más contento del mundo – ¡Error de Ben! Debería ser “Soy el chico más
contento del mundo”.

11. Campitos bonitos – La terminación o sufijo “-ito” se usa para indicar que algo es pequeño,
en este caso el campo.

12. O sea – Expresión que se usa constantemente en lenguaje hablado y que no aporta
ningún significado. Este tipo de palabras se llaman “muletillas” (verbal pauses).

Diálogo

Marina—Hola y bienvenidos a Notes in Spanish Intermediate.

Ben—Hola, ¿qué tal? Yo me llamo Ben y estoy aquí con Marina y hoy vamos a hacer una pequeña
introducción y contaros un poquito quiénes somos y qué hacemos. Empezamos contigo, Marina.

Marina—Muy bien, pues me llamo Marina, soy de Madrid, soy madrileña.

Ben—Sí, es verdad, porque la gente de Madrid, se llaman o madrileños o…
Marina—O madrileñas.

Ben—Si claro. Una cosa: a mí también una vez me dijo una mujer de San Sebastián, en el norte
de España, que las chicas de Madrid se llaman también…

Marina-Gatas.

Ben-…gatas, ¿verdad?

Marina—Gatas. Sí, las llaman gatas. Pero oficialmente eres madrileña. Pero no sé por qué, de
dónde viene la historia, lo miraremos en Internet.

Ben—Yo creo…es porque a las madrileñas les gusta irse así por la noche, andando por las calles de Madrid, ¿verdad?

Marina—No lo sé, puede ser. Es una buena opción.

Ben—Bueno, pues tú eres de Madrid y eres madrileña y española, ¿verdad?

Marina—Mhm.

Ben-Y yo…

Marina-¿De dónde eres tú? Cuéntanos.

Ben—Por otra parte, yo soy inglés, pero llevo ocho años en España. Y pues cada vez me siento más español, casi.

Marina—Yo tengo un amigo que dice que Ben cada vez parece más español.

Ben—Pues no sé por qué.

Marina—Sí, dice “cada vez, Ben, estás más españolizado: estás menos rubio y ya no te pones rojo”.

Ben—Pues eso, no me pongo rojo porque paso todo el día a la sombra… ¡porque aquí el sol es tan fuerte que yo no puedo estar mucho tiempo en ello! Bueno, pues cuéntanos Marina un poco lo que haces. ¿En qué trabajas?

Marina—Pues trabajo en una empresa informática, en una consultora francesa, y normalmente, no trabajo en mi propia empresa: trabajo en una empresa-cliente. Y ahora mismo estoy trabajando en un proyecto que es un centro de control de satélites.

Ben—Bueno, bueno, ¡qué complicado! A veces, Marina me explica lo que hace en su trabajo y yo me quedo…

Marina—Alucinado.

Ben—¿Alucinado se dice? Alucinado: muy sorprendido, ¿verdad? ¡Que no entiendo nada! Porque yo, yo trabajo con el ordenador, como todo el mundo, pero yo trabajo en casa. Y yo soy, aparte de otras cosas, soy traductor. Hago traducciones del español al inglés, y también hago páginas web, cosas que tienen que ver con Internet. Y eso, tengo la suerte de poder trabajar en casa, todo el día.

Marina—Muy bien, pues yo quería que nos contases ¿cómo es que se te ocurrió venir a España?

Ben—Bueno, yo vivir… vivía en Londres, antes de venir a España, y quería ser fotógrafo, pero en Londres para ser fotógrafo pues tienes que ser más que nada un hombre de negocios. Da igual que tú eres el mejor fotógrafo del mundo, si no sabes nada de los negocios, pues es muy difícil. Y entonces yo no sabía mucho de los negocios. A mí me gustaba hacer fotos. Y entonces era demasiado competitivo, para mi gusto. Y decidí que preferiría pasar un año viviendo en un país interesante, donde hace más calor… y elegí entonces España.

Marina—Muy bien, ¿y sabías español cuando viniste a España?

Ben—Mira, te digo, cuando yo llegué aquí a España, yo no sabía nada de español. Podía pedirme una cerveza.

Marina-Pedir.

Ben-¡Una cerveza!

Marina—Pedir una cerveza.

Ben—Sí. Podía pedir, no pedirme, pedir una cerveza, y poco más. “Una habitación doble, por favor”.

Marina—¿Doble?

Ben—Doble, por si acaso.

Marina—Jajaja. Bueno, ¿y cómo aprendiste español, entonces?

Ben—Pues yendo a clase, primero. Fui a una acadamia… ¿Cómo se dice?

Marina—Academia.

Ben—Una academia, aquí en Madrid y pues tomé todas las clases que podía entonces. Y luego, también haciendo intercambios. Bueno, explícanos, Marina, ¿qué es un intercambio?

Marina—Bueno, pues un intercambio es cuando se juntan dos personas de nacionalidad distinta, como Ben y yo —Ben es inglés y yo española— y nos juntamos durante, a lo mejor, dos horas a tomar una cerveza en un bar y hablamos la mitad del tiempo en español y la mitad del tiempo en inglés.

Ben—Te da la oportunidad de practicar las dos idiomas, ¿verdad? ¿”Las dos” o “Los dos”?

Marina—Los dos idiomas.

Ben—Los dos idiomas, eso todavía, aunque llevo ocho años en España, hay veces que tengo problemas con palabras, como por ejemplo “problema”. Porque piensas problema, la problema – ema… la problema. Pero no el problema.

Marina—Es el problema, aunque acabe en –a, que parece que es femenino

Ben—Es como otro ejemplo: sofá, el sofá; tema, el tema. Los… bueno no son falsos amigos, pero son difíciles, a veces, estas cosas. Bueno, entonces ¿de qué hablábamos?

Marina—A ver, hablábamos del intercambio. ¿Y qué te aportó entonces a ti el intercambio?

Ben—Me aportó una mujer.

Marina—Jejeje, aparte de una mujer.

Ben—Porque Marina y yo hicimos un intercambio y ahora estamos casados, ¿verdad?

Marina—Sí.

Ben—Así que nunca sabes. Vas a aprender español y a la vez… ¡tienes muchas más posibilidades!

Marina—Y puedes encontrar a gente muy interesante porque el intercambio se hace también con personas del mismo sexo. Nosotros tenemos una amiga que hacía muchos intercambios con chicas, y es una manera de conocer a gente del país y hacerte un grupo de amigos muy interesante.

Ben—Pero también hay muchos chicos que lo hacen…

Marina—También.

Ben—…en plan cita a ciega, ¿verdad?

Marina—Sí.

Ben—Porque están buscando una novia… ¡y hay chicas que lo hacen para buscar novio! Pero la intención normalmente es para aprender…

Marina—El idioma, sí.

Ben—Bueno, pues nada, por cierto. Yo digo mucho: “pues nada”. Y “pues nada” es una manera muy buena de hacer una pausa, en una conversación. Si estás hablando en español y quieres tomar un momento para pensar, pues muchas veces es ideal decir “pues nada”, mientras tú piensas en lo que quieres decir a continuación, ¿verdad?

Marina—Muy bien.

Ben—¿Qué más os podemos contar de nosotros?

Marina—Pues yo quería que nos contases ¿qué es lo que más te gusta hacer?

Ben—La fotografía todavía me encanta. Cuando dejé de vivir en Londres y vine a España, hice más fotos que nunca. Y todavía sigo haciendo muuuchas muuuchas fotos. ¿Y qué más me gusta? A mí me gusta el campo. Me encanta porque pasamos tanto tiempo en la ciudad que las veces que podemos salir y tomar un poquito de aire fresco, bueno, estoy el chico más contento del mundo.

Marina-Muy bien.

Ben-Y eso es lo que más me gusta. ¡Me encanta!, vamos. ¿Y a ti?

Marina—A mí me gusta mucho hacer deporte, me gusta estar mucho en la naturaleza. Y el deporte que me gusta hacer en la naturaleza es montar en bici, ir por campitos bonitos11 donde huele muy bien y hay árboles muy bonitos. Eso me gusta mucho. Y luego lo que más, más me gusta de todo es hacer yoga.

Ben—¿Hacer qué?

Marina—Yoga.

Ben—Ah, yoga como los indios.

Marina—Igual, jajaja.

Ben—Jajajaja. Te relaja mucho, ¿verdad?

Marina—Sí, me quedo como nueva. Me siento mucho mejor después de hacer yoga.

Ben—Una pregunta: otra manera de decir “me gusta mucho” o “me encanta”… yo he oído mucho “me chifla”.

Marina— “Me chifla” es lo que dirían… a lo mejor, no es un lenguaje muy actual, pero mi madre lo diría. “Me chiflan los helados”, por ejemplo.

Ben—Ah, yo pensé que era más de la gente joven.

Marina—No, eso es por ejemplo “me mola”. La gente joven diría “me mola salir por ahí los viernes por la noche”, o “me mola…

Ben—“Montar en bici” o jugar…

Marina—O “me mola una chica”, puedes decir también, si una chica te gusta.

Ben—O un grupo. “Me mola mucho U2”.

Marina—Por ejemplo.

Ben—U two, en inglés.

Marina—Pero lo de “me chifla” no es lenguaje… o sea12, es coloquial, pero no es lenguaje de los jóvenes, es totalmente aceptado. Mi madre lo usaría perfectamente.

Ben—Vale pues, muy bien.

Marina— “Me chifla el chocolate”, por ejemplo…

Ben-¿Si?

Marina-que a mí no me gusta nada. Jajaja.

Ben—A ti no. Jajaja.

Marina-Pero bueno.

Ben-¡A mí me chifla la comida española! ¡Bien!

Marina—O “me chifla mi sobrina”.

Ben—A mí me mola ir de vacaciones.

Marina—A mí también.

Ben—Bueno, pues hoy lo vamos a dejar así y tenemos muchos podcasts pendientes para vosotros. Así que mándanos un e-mail a través de la página web y danos sugerencias también. Bueno, nos vemos la semana que viene.

Marina—¡Hasta luego!

Ben—¡Adiós!

3. Ejercicios:

A. Rellenar los huecos…
Utiliza algunas palabras o frases de la sección ‘Vocabulario y gramática’ para rellenar los huecos de las siguientes frases.

1. Ve _______ tu y ahora cuando termine de vestirme voy yo.

2. Hoy voy a echar más arroz a la paella ____ ___ ______ viene tu sobrina.

3. Nico es tan tímido que cuando alguien le habla __ _____ _____ como un tomate.

4. El ayuntamiento de Madrid organiza cursos de __________ para que la gente mayor aprenda a usar el ordenador.

5. Rosa tiene un _________ con la vista, así que le han puesto gafas.

6. Esta tarde voy a ir a comprarme un vestido para la _____ __ _______ que tengo este sábado.

B. Verdadero o Falso

Decide si las siguientes frases son verdaderas o falsas.

1. A Marina la podríamos llamar gata.

2. Ben parece más español ahora que cuando vivía en Inglaterra.

3. Cuando vivía en Londres, Ben tuvo mucho éxito cuando trabajó como fotógrafo.

4. Ben opina que muchos chicos hacen intercambio sólo para ligar.

5. Marina disfruta mucho de estar en la naturaleza.

6. A Marina le encanta el chocolate.

C. Comenta con tu compañero (Para hablar en clase, con un intercambio etc…)

¿De donde eres?

¿Dónde viviste durante tu infancia?

¿Qué es lo que más te gusta hacer en tu
tiempo libre?

¿Qué es lo que más te chifla?

4. Soluciones

A. Rellenar los huecos…

1. yendo

2. por si acaso

3. se pone rojo

4. informática

5. problema

6. cita a ciegas

B. Verdadero o Falso

1. Verdadero

2. Verdadero

3. Falso

4. Verdadero

5. Verdadero

6. Falso

Student Testimonial from Blair

My name is Blair and I’m a student here at CLI. Wǒ jiào 我叫 Blair. (My name is Blair.)

I’m from Canada and I have been living in China for one year, teaching in an international high school. I have enjoyed my time in China, but also I know that my experience has been limited because I found it difficult to pick up the language. So because I think my stay in China will be longer, I felt it would be beneficial for me to spend my summer vacation in Guilin and to study Chinese for four or five weeks to really give me the boost and the encouragement that I feel that I needed to kind of begin my path.

And I have really enjoyed my time here at CLI and feel that it’s not only been a great experience, but really has given me a foundation so that I can continue my studies when I return to Guangzhou.

So I just want to thank everyone at CLI for the wonderful experience for the many friendships and the continual encouragement I’ve received here.

– Blair Marshall

The 100 Most Common Chinese Characters

The 100 Most Common Chinese Characters

Have you ever wondered what the most common Chinese characters are? In a language of approximately 50,000 individual characters, mastering the most commonly used Chinese characters—and knowing their order of frequency—will benefit you on your path to language greatness. Whether you’re a new learner ready to begin reading and writing Chinese or a seasoned student brushing up on the basics, learners of all levels benefit from reviewing the most essential Chinese characters. The following list of 100 most common Chinese characters is based on data from classical and modern Chinese writings collected by linguist Jun Da.

The 100 Most Common Chinese characters:

No. Character pīnyīn Eng­lish
1 de (possessive particle), of / really and truly / aim, clear
2 yī / yì /yí one / single / a(n)
3 shì is, are, am, yes to be
4 (negative prefix) no, not
5 le/liǎo (modal particle intensifying preceding clause), (past tense marker) / to know, to understand, to know
6 rén man, person, people
7 I, me, myself
8 zài (located) at, in, exist
9 yǒu to have, there is, there are, to exist, to be
10 he, him
11 zhè this/ these
12 wéi / wèi act as, take…to be, to be, to do, to serve as, to become / because of, for, to
13 zhī him, her, it
14 big, huge, large, major, great, wide, deep, oldest, eldest / doctor
15 lái to come
16 to use, take, according to, because of, in order to
17 (a measure word), individual
18 zhōng within, among, in, middle, center, while (doing something), during
19 shàng above, on, over, top, (go) up, last, previous
20 men (plural marker for pronouns and a few animate nouns)
No. Character pīnyīn Eng­lish
21 dào to (a place), until (a time), up to, to go, to arrive
22 shuō to speak, to say
23 guó country, state, nation
24 hé / huò and, together, with, peace / harmony
25 de / dì -ly / earth, ground, field, place, land
26 too, also, as well
27 child, son
28 shí time, when, hour, period, season
29 dào direction, way, method, road, path, principle, truth, reason, skill, method, Tao (of Taoism), a measure word, to say, to speak, to talk
30 chū to go out, to come out, to occur, to produce, to go beyond, to rise, to put forth, to occur, to happen
31 ér and, as well as, but (not), yet (not), (shows causal relation), (shows change of state), (shows contrast)
32 yào / yāo vital, to want, to be going to, must / demand, ask, request
33 at, in, in regard to
34 jiù at once, then, right away, only, just
35 xià below, under, (go) down, next (as opposed to previous/last)
36 dé / de / děi obtain, get, gain, to have to, must, ought to, to need to
37 can, may, able to, certain(ly), (particle used for emphasis)
38 you
39 nián year
40 shēng to be born, to give birth, life, to grow
No. Character pīnyīn Eng­lish
41 from, self, oneself, since
42 huì can, able, meet, meeting, society, union, party
43 that,those
44 hòu back, behind, rear, afterwards, after, later
45 néng can, may, capable, energy, able
46 duì couple, pair, to be opposite, to oppose, to face, for, to, correct (answer), to answer, to reply, to direct (towards something), right
47 zhe/zhuó/zhāo/zháo verb particle marking a continuing progress/state
48 shì matter, thing, item, work, affair
49 his, her, its, theirs, that, such, it (refers to something preceding it)
50 within, inside
51 suǒ actually,place
52 to go, to leave, to depart
53 háng / xíng a row, profession, professional / all right, capable, competent, okay, to go, to do, to travel, temporary, to walk, to go, will do / behavior, conduct
54 guò (past tense marker), to cross, to go over, to pass (time), to live, to get along, (surname)
55 jiā home, family, a person engaged in a certain art or profession
56 shí ten
57 yòng to use
58 fā/fà to send out, to show (one‘s feeling), to issue, to develop / hair
59 tiān day, sky, heaven
60 as (if), such as
No. Character pīnyīn Eng­lish
61 rán correct, right, so, thus, like this, -ly
62 zuò to regard as, to take (somebody) for, to do, to make
63 fāng square, quadrilateral, direction, just
64 chéng finish, complete, accomplish, become, turn into, win, succeed
65 zhě -ist, -er (person), person (who does something)
66 duō many, much, a lot of, numerous, multi-
67 day, sun, date, day of the month
68 dōu all, both (if two things are involved), entirely (due to)each, even, already
69 sān three
70 xiǎo small, tiny, few, young
71 jūn army, military, arms
72 èr two
73 -less, not to have, no, none, not, to lack, un-
74 tóng like, same, similar, together, alike, with
75 me (interrog. suff.)
76 jīng classics, sacred book, pass through, to undergo, scripture
77 law, method, way, Buddhist teaching
78 dāng / dàng to be, to act as, manage, withstand, when, during, ought, should, match equally, equal, same, obstruct, just at (a time or place), on the spot, right, just at / at or in the very same…, to pawn, suitable, adequate, fitting, proper, replace, represent
79 qǐ:to rise, to raise, to get up
80 yú / yǔ / yù (interrog. part.) / and, to give, together with / take part in
No. Character pīnyīn Eng­lish
81 hǎo / hào good, well / be fond of
82 kān / kàn to look after, to take care of, to watch, to guard / it depends, think, to see, to look at
83 xué learn, study, science, -ology
84 jìn advance, enter, to come in
85 zhǒng / zhòng kind, type, race (of people), seed, type / to grow, to plant
86 jiāng / jiàng (will, shall, future tense), ready, prepared, to get, to use / a general
87 hái / huán also, in addition, more, still, else, still, yet, (not) yet / (surname), pay back, return
88 fēn / fèn to divide, minute, (a measure word), (a unit of length = 0.33centimeter) / part
89 this, these
90 xīn heart, mind
91 qián before, in front, ago, former, previous, earlier, front
92 miàn face, side, surface, aspect, top, face, flour, noodles
93 yòu (once) again, also, both… and…, again
94 dìng to set, to fix, to determine, to decide, to order
95 jiàn / xiàn to see, to meet, to appear (to be something), to interview / appear
96 zhī/zhǐ only, just, but, measure word for one of a pair
97 zhǔ to own, to host, master, lord, primary
98 méi/mò (negative prefix for verbs), have not, not / sink, disappear
99 gōng just, honorable (designation), public, common
100 cóng from, since,obey, observe, follow

How well do you know Chinese characters? Review the 40 most common Chinese radicals and the anatomy of Hànzì 汉字. Learn more.

  

  

Learn Chinese in Guilin, China

The Guilin Opera

The Guilin Opera

Guilin Opera is a beloved artform throughout southern China and is one of country’s ten major forms of opera. This kind of opera utilizes 桂林话 (Guìlín huà, Guilin dialect) and various regional 方言 (fāngyán, dialects) to tell stories of tragedy and comedy. Guilin Opera originated during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) when the traditional artform spread to Guilin from northern China. Once in Guilin, it was adapted by local people and took on a life of its own.



Guilin Opera is deeply related to Qi opera traditions of southern Hunan Province. In the past, artists from these two regions worked and studied together, so their theatrical traditions have similar names and singing styles. Many Guilin Opera scripts are borrowed from Beijing Opera; only 40 original scripts are performed exclusively in Guilin Opera. Most Guilin Opera shows are presented at temple fairs where actors give uninhibited, simple performances that tell historical stories. In cities, where opera tends to be a bit more sophisticated, performances often center on stories about young men and women.


Guilin Opera actor on stage during a show


Caidiao is another kind of theater in Guangxi Province that originates from singing and dancing traditions of the Guilin countryside. It is livelier and easy to follow compared with Guilin Opera. Stories in Caidio are lifelike and express the traditions of local ethnic minority groups. Actors generally speak and sing at the same time. Caidiao stories usually center around romance between men and women, or the admiration of nature. Fans and handkerchiefs are common stage props. Actors will often use these items to imitate other materials, bringing a greater sense of fantasy to the audience.


Guilin Opera musicians performing


Want to learn even more about the diverse, fascinating traditions of Chinese opera? Find out how CLI’s program options can greatly enhance your understanding of Chinese language and culture, and check out the following photos of a Guilin Opera performance we held at The Chinese Language Institute in June 2019! We look forward to enjoying a night out at the opera in Guilin with you soon.


CLI students perform Guilin opera



CLI students perform Guilin opera



CLI students perform Guilin opera



CLI students perform Guilin opera


Chinese Vocabulary Related to Guilin Opera:

Hànzì pīnyīn Definition
1. 中国戏曲 zhōngguó xìqǔ Chinese opera
2. 桂剧 guìjù Guangxi Opera
3. 舞台 wǔtái stage
4. 演出 yǎnchū performance
5. 表演 biǎoyǎn show
6. 演员 yǎnyuán actors
7. 歌手 gēshǒu singer
8. 戏剧 xìjù drama
9. 音乐 yīnyuè music
10. 戏服 xì fú clothing (only used for theatre)
11. 戏妆 xì zhuāng makeup (only used for theatre)
12. 音乐剧 yīnyuè jù musical theater
13. 剧院 jùyuàn theater
14. 艺术 yìshù art
15. 歌剧院 gē jùyuàn Opera house
16. 后台 hòutái backstage
17. 舞台艺术 wǔtái yìshù stage arts
18. 观众 guānzhòng audience
19. 头饰 tóushì head ornament
20. 传统乐器 chuántǒng yuèqì traditional music instrument
21. 二胡 èrhú erhu (two-stringed bowed musical instrument)
22. drum
23. 月琴 yuèqín zither
24. luó gong (musical percussion instrument)


Improve Your Chinese Listening Comprehension

Improve Your Chinese Listening Comprehension

Who doesn’t like talking to a great listener? It’s a pleasure to speak with someone who pays attention to every word and responds with a keen astuteness to the subject being discussed.



As a Chinese language learner building your listening comprehension is key to thriving in Chinese conversations. While there are countless ways of practicing your listening skills, this blog post focuses on an excellent (and free) resource — Melnyk’s Chinese. Simply put, polishing your Chinese listening ability with Melnyk’s Chinese Audio Lessons is an excellent means of improving.



Serge Melnyk introduces us to a vocabulary list explaining the meaning and usage of each new word, enriching the lesson with cultural insights about chinese culture. The second part of the lesson includes several situational dialogues that put in practice what you just learned. Here’s a list of the lessons our students at CLI like the most:

Chinese Tones and Pronunciation

The most essential of the basic lessons! 4 different tones, all different meanings, mispronounce a word at your own peril.

What’s your name?


The best way to start a conversation and make new friends. Learn basic vocabulary for asking and answering phrases like ‘Can I ask you a question?’, ‘What’s your name?’ ‘Nice to meet you’, ‘I’m Sorry’, ‘Please come in’ and much more!


Chinese Food is ‘Good to Eat‘!


Chinese Food is delicious! We’ll learn how to say ‘restaurant’, ‘menu’, and the name of many the most popular chinese dishes. We love Mr. Melnyk’s recommendations!
Learn how to order in a Chinese restaurant. Yum!


Meeting New People. Business Cards in China


This episode not only offers new vocabulary, but includes an entire lesson that touches on cultural aspects that are essential when meeting new people and making a good first impression. Pay attention to the sentence patterns in the featured situational dialogues.


My Family


This lesson features a special guest from Taiwan! Mr. Melnyk’s comments on the cultural background will help you understand how to use the new words. Learn words like ‘she looks very lovely’ or ‘are these your children’ and all the different names for each family member.


Time Concepts and Calendar


You’ll find a super complete overview with clear explanations about the main time and calendar concepts and how to use them: Years, months and days of the week all applied in real life, in the situational dialogues.


Sing and learn. Sweet Sweet.


Singing is a great way to practice your chinese! Pause and play to learn at your own pace, look for the lyrics online, try with other songs. You might be able to apply this lesson’s learnings in a chinese KTV sometime!


Travel in China. Part 1.


Traveling to China for the first time will always be a life-changing experience. Do not let the language barrier be an obstacle for your adventures! This lesson will help you travel smoothly with essential phrases and words like: hotel, train ticket, toilet, passport and how to change USD into RMB and passport.


Buying food from a supermarket


Visit a supermarket in China, it’s a unique experience that you can’t miss!
Mr. Melnyk also talks about products Westerners can’t live without, ones that are not very easy to find in China. You’ll probably need to ask someone to help you find them. Also, this lesson includes useful everyday phrases and expressions.


Playing sports and exercising

Mr. Melnyk teaches us different sports names. We learn words like ‘gym’ and ‘to exercise’, ‘sports’ and ‘team’. Plus, some practical phrases like ‘I often go to gym to workout’ and ‘a strong team will win’.



Don’t hesitate to visit Melnyk’s Chinese website and explore further. You’ll find other free lessons and up to 276 lessons, once you’ve subscribed. Subscribers can also learn pinyin and how to write chinese characters. Download the mobile app to continue learning wherever you want and at your own pace.

Is it hard to learn Chinese?

Is it hard to learn Chinese?

Chinese language has a notoriety
for being a difficult language to learn. Like learning any language, learning Chinese has its challenges. As a language learner, placing yourself in an ideal learning environment is key to learning the Chinese language. Let’s have a look at both the difficult and easy aspects of Chinese.



Learning Chinese one-on-one in China is the best method to fluency


Difficult Aspects of Learning Chinese

Writing Chinese script


Chinese is a difficult language to learn primarily because of the pictographic script. This is in contrast to most other languages including English which uses phonetic script. In a phonetic scripts, the symbols represents sounds. This makes reading easier as there are not as many symbols to memorize.

On the other hand, Chinese is a pictographic script, which means that there are many characters to memorize. In fact, there are about 3,500 characters in standard Chinese. In English, if you come across a word that you have never heard of, you will at least know how to pronounce the word. In Chinese, if you come across a word that you have never heard of, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to guess exactly how it sounds like.



Tonal Language


Another major difficulty for foreigners in learning the language are the tones. There are four tones in mandarin, five if you consider the neutral tone as well. This means same syllables with different tones can mean two completely different things.

Most beginners struggle with tones when starting to learn Chinese, but it is very important that you get a good grasp of tones. Here two examples of possible mistakes:

  • 1. Mā (妈) : Mother vs mǎ (马) : Horse
  • 2. Wèn (问) : Ask vs wěn (吻) : Kiss


Easy Aspects of Learning Chinese

Grammar/ Structure


Chinese has few grammar patterns—all of which are straight-forward. Moreover, there are no tenses in Chinese language. Chinese words do not change forms like English verbs. This is something Chinese learners can be grateful for.




Pinyin


Pinyin is the standard system of romanized transliteration of Chinese characters. It is an enormous help for Chinese learners. One great thing about pinyin in this digital age is that, you can type pinyin into your computer and they will give you character suggestions. This means that you can text or write emails in Chinese without needing to know each stroke of the character.

As long as you know the pinyin and recognize the character you are looking for, you can type in Chinese.



CLI's Chinese teachers have degrees in teaching Chinese as a second language


How to make learning Chinese easier?

The easiest way to learn Chinese is by immersing yourself in the language and the best way to immerse yourself is by traveling to China. Furthermore, the absolute most ideal way to learn Chinese is through one-on-one immersion classes at CLI. CLI offers a culturally vibrant environment for you to immerse yourself in Chinese language while taking one-on-one lessons with top-notch Chinese teachers. For more information about CLI, please visit www.studycli.org/about. See you in China.


The Anatomy of Chinese Characters

The Anatomy of Chinese Characters

Reading and writing Chinese characters is often considered the most ambitious challenge that language students face in order to achieve fluency. Indeed, the intricacies which have shaped this character system over thousands of years are both complex and vast. While they may appear bewildering at first, Chinese characters are actually composed of distinct building blocks that form a straightforward and logical structure. Once you grasp a basic understanding of Chinese character anatomy, you will be reading and writing your way across the Middle Kingdom in no time. Explore below and continue your journey to learn Chinese characters.

 

the chinese character for husband has evolved over many centuries

Chinese characters are used to illustrate meaning rather than sound
Images courtesy of confuciusmag.com

Unlike the Roman alphabet, Chinese characters are used to illustrate meaning rather than sound. In fact, most characters were originally intended as visual representations of physical elements like trees, houses or humans. Evolving since their earliest forms, simplified versions of these symbols, known as character radicals, serve as the foundation for contemporary written Mandarin. Making up approximately 80% of the language, radicals are an essential starting point for anyone who wants to read or write fluently in Mandarin. Jump to the list of the 40 most used Chinese radicals and continue learning Chinese characters.


 

chinese characters are used to illustrate meaning rather than soundchinese characters evolved from visual representations of physical elements

chinese characters used to be visual representations of physical elements
The evolution of the characters 人, 从, and 众. 人=rén=person 从=cóng=from/follow 众=zhòng=crowd.

When two or more radicals are combined, they work together to create a single character; the radical on the left indicates the character’s category or meaning, while the radical on the right might indicate its pronunciation. The majority of the written Chinese language is comprised of character compounds, in which several characters are combined to make one word. Most Chinese dictionaries include about 20,000 characters, though linguists estimate literate speakers know between 5,000 and 8,000. For language learners, being familiar with just 2,000 to 3,000 characters will give you the tools to read most newspapers and magazines.


An important rule to note is that characters are written according to a standardized stroke order, which typically moves from left to right, top to bottom and outside to inside. Skritter is an excellent APP to help you learn stroke order. Although Chinese characters may seem daunting at first, patterns will quickly emerge once you develop a basic foundation. So, review your radicals, familiarize yourself with the most commonly used Chinese characters, and watch as your Mandarin skills grow exponentially!

 

An Introduction to Chinese Characters

Having a deeper understanding of Chinese characters will help reveal the language’s logic structure as well as China’s history and culture. Watch the following video to delve deeper into the pictographic and ideographic nature of Chinese characters. You’ll learn the difference between the phonetic alphabet and the Chinese character system.

 

The 40 Most Common Radicals:

There are over 200 radicals that make up Chinese characters, though only a portion of them are regularly used in simplified Mandarin today. Check out the list below to find out the 40 most common character radicals – you might find that you’ve encountered most of them before! Remember, because they serve as the building blocks of the written character system, radicals are absolutely crucial in helping language learners become literate in Mandarin.

No. Radi­cal pīnyīn Eng­lish
1 rén person
2 dāo knife
3 power
4 yòu right hand; again
5 kǒu mouth
6 wéi enclose
7 earth
8 sunset
9 big
10 woman
11 child
12 cùn inch
13 xiǎo small
14 gōng labor;work
15 yāo tiny; small

No. Radi­cal pīnyīn Eng­lish
16 gōng bow
17 xīn heart box
18 dagger;axe
19 shǒu hand
20 sun
21 yuè moon
22 wood
23 shuǐ water
24 huǒ fire
25 tián field
26 eye
27 shì show
28 fine silk
29 ěr ear
30 clothing
No. Radi­cal pīnyīn Eng­lish
31 yán speech
32 bèi cowrie; shell
33 zǒu walk
34 foot
35 jīn gold
36 mén door
37 zhuī short-tailed bird
38 rain
39 shí eat
40 horse

Additional Chinese Learning Resources:

Review the 100 Most Common Chinese Characters.

Things to Know About Christmas in China

Things to Know About Christmas in China

Christmas has arrived in China and we’re ready to celebrate! Despite not being as popular as traditional Chinese lunar holidays like Mid-Autumn Festival and Spring Festival, the storied date of December 25th has come to take on its own special role on the Chinese holiday calendar. Over the past several decades more and more Chinese have come to observe Christmas; this is particularly true among younger Chinese generations eager to get a taste of Western culture. Thus, Christmas has received a warm welcome in the Middle Kingdom.


Chinese people dressed for Christmas

During the days and weeks leading up to Christmas, it’s very common for Chinese students of all ages to exchange Christmas cards, wear costumes and get into the holiday spirit. As a unique Christmas Eve tradition, many young couples present each other with red apples, a custom born out of the Mandarin word for Christmas Eve, which sounds similar to the word for apple. Friends and family members might also take advantage of holiday sales and give each other small gifts, some even purchasing faux Christmas trees to adorn their living rooms. If you find yourself in China during Christmas time, keep your eyes peeled for restaurants offering 八宝鸭 (bā bǎo yā, eight treasures duck), duck stuffed with chicken, ham, shrimp and more — a Chinese-style Christmas dinner!



Chinese people dressed as Santa playing Chinese drums


Chinese people dressed for Christmas

(China Photos | Getty Images | Washington Post)



Here’s what else to expect if you’re in China during the Christmas season:

  • Servers, salesclerks, and other attendants may be wearing holiday-themed costumes.
  • Malls, restaurants, and public places will be playing those oh-so-familiar Christmas tunes — learn how to sing ‘jingle bells’ in Chinese.
  • Shops of all kinds may be holding special sales, selling winter clothes and seasonal products at massive discount prices.
  • Public squares and walking streets may be decorated with twinkling lights, red streamers, or even decorated Christmas trees.
  • Some international restaurants, schools or offices may be closed in observance of Christmas.

Electronic Christmas tree shop in China

(Photo by Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera)


Christmas in Guilin at CLI

See you at CLI!


How much is there to learn about China? Learn more.

  


Christmas Themed Chinese Flashcards:

Chinese vocabulary flashcards-Christmas
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-Christmas tree
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-white Christmas
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-candy cane
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-gingerbread man
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-gingerbread house
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-stocking
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-reindeer
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-snowman




Additional Christmas Vocabulary:

Hànzì pīnyīn Definition
1. 圣诞节 shèng dàn jié Christmas
2. 圣诞夜 shèngdàn yè Christmas eve
3. 白色圣诞 bái sè shèng dàn White Christmas
4. 圣诞快乐 shèngdàn kuàilè Merry Christmas
5. 圣诞树 shèngdànshù Christmas tree
6. 拐杖糖 guǎizhàng táng candy cane
7. 礼物 lǐ wù gift/present
8. 圣诞袜 shèngdàn wà stocking
9. 圣诞红 shèngdàn hóng Poinsettia
10. 姜饼屋 jiāng bǐng wū gingerbread house
11. 圣诞卡 shèngdànkǎ Christmas card
12. 圣诞老人 shèngdàn lǎorén Santa Claus
13. 雪橇 xuěqiāo sleigh
14. 麋鹿 mílù reindeer
15. 基督教徒 jī dū jiào tú Christian
16. 雪人 xuě rén snowman
17. 姜饼人 jiāng bǐng rén gingerbread man
18. 报佳音 bàojiāyīn caroling


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