Chinese characters are also called Hanzi in Mandarin.

According to the Kangxi dictionary 康熙字典 (the imperial dictionary published in the 18th century), there are roughly 50,000 characters. However, don’t panic! You don’t have to memories them all! Most of them are rare characters and are not used anymore.

In fact, a native Chinese person only knows around 5,000 – 6,000 characters, surprisingly few compared to 17-22k English words for a native English speaker. For daily conversation and basic literature, you only need 1000 characters. With 3000-4000 characters, you should be able to read newspapers and magazines quite comfortably.

What is the difference between a character and a word? Click here to find out more.


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