Chinese characters may seem very complex at first glance. However, it is much more logical than you think!

Within every Chinese character, there is a component called Radical. Often the radical gives indication to the meaning.

Here is an example. Have a look at the three characters below:

妈 [mā] mother

姐 [jiě] elder sister

她 [tā] she

You may notice all three characters have the same component on the left side. This component, which looks like this <女>, is the character for “female”, and also forms part of the characters that relate to “female”. We call this the “radical” of a character.

Radical provides categorisation of characters. You can think of radical as the root to a “family” of Chinese characters.

Here is more examples:

木 (tree/wood radical)       林(forest)         果 (fruit)      枝(branch)     柜(cupboard)

火(fire radical)                  灭(extinguish) 烟(smoke)   烤(grill)          灯 (lamp)


How many Chinese characters do I need for daily conversation? Click here to find the answer

How do these characters make up words and phrases? Here is the answer.


 Go Back to Mandarin A-Z