It’s a very good question, and the answer is definitely YES!! Learning Chinese characters is a huge part of learning Chinese though it’s not an easy task.


 We all know that Pinyin (Chinese phonetic syllables) is very easy, but the phonetic syllables only contain about 400 sounds and these 400 cover 8000 characters and each character sometimes has more than 1 meanings.

Take a look at the second picture above.

       It’s a screenshot from my cellphone which I type a random pronunciation “yi”, then it goes out lots of characters with the same “yi” pronunciation. So now imagine, if you happened to read a sentence says “ yì jiàn yīfú” (一億件衣服/一亿件衣服) which means a hundred million clothes, how many “yi” with different tones do you see in this sentence?! Do you think you can quickly figure out the meaning without Chinese characters? Let me tell you, it’s possible, but you’ll be reading very slowly and it’s very difficult!!


So yes, leaning Chinese characters is necessary not only it helps you understand the meaning also it’s crucial to learn how to read signs and daily written materials while traveling or living in China or Taiwan.

There are two kinds of Chinese characters – simplified and traditional. In China, people use simplified Chinese characters whereas in Taiwan, people use traditional characters. Make sure which one you need to learn before you start.

 Here is an example:

Traditional Chinese VS Simplified Chinese

他喜歡看書。VS. 他喜欢看书 /(tā xǐhuān kànshū.) /He likes to read

 Now we know the importance of learning the characters and its kinds. I guess your next question would be…”how many characters do I need to learn?” There are more than 5000 and it’s actually around 8000 of them according to a Chinese dictionary.

 Don’t worry and don’t panic!!! Just take a deep breath and relax because trust me, you are definitely NOT going to learn all of them! In our next post, we’re going to talk about ”how many characters do I need to learn?”.

 Have fun learning Chinese! ;)

 Katrina Lee

SMART Mandarin




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