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How to Write Chinese Characters Like a Native

How to Write Chinese Characters Like a Native

For westerners, it’s easy to assume that English or Spanish are the most commonly spoken and written languages in the world. After all, those are the primary languages taught in schools and it seems like everyone has at least a basic knowledge of one of the two. However, the truth is that Mandarin Chinese is almost as popular as both English and Spanish combined. An estimated 955 million people speak it – or 14.4 percent of the entire global population.

While it can take years to learn Mandarin, many people with a casual interest in the language find the idea of learning to write Chinese characters intriguing. If you’re in that cohort, there’s no better time to learn than right now! Within 10 minutes, you can go from having zero knowledge of Chinese to being capable of writing five unique characters.

Grab a pen, snag a piece of paper, and let’s go!

The Chinese Character for “Big”

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    Let’s start with the Chinese character, Da, which means “Big” or “Adult” in English.

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    This character is very simple and looks like an upside-down “V” with a perpendicular line cutting through the top. To draw it, start at the upward point and draw a sweeping line down and slightly to the left. Then, do the same thing on the opposite side. Finally, draw a line through the top.

    In order to remember it better, you can picture it like an adult stick figure with arms and legs.

    The Chinese Character for “Mouth”

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      Kou – or mouth – is arguably the easiest character to draw. It’s essentially a square with two of the lines slightly protruding beneath the base. It looks something like this:

      In order to remember the character’s association with the meaning, you can picture it as an actual mouth, like this:

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        The Chinese Character for “Mountain”

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          The Chinese character for “Mountain” – shan – looks a lot like a pitch fork with no handle. You start by drawing the center line in a top to bottom direction. You then draw the line on the left, followed by the line on the right (which is slightly longer than the other two). Finally, you connect the three lines with a perpendicular stroke.

          Here’s a helpful way to remember that the shan character means “mountain.”

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            The Chinese Character for “Moon”

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              The character for “Moon” – yue – is pretty simple to draw. You simply start with by drawing two downward lines. The one on the left sweeps out at the bottom, while the one on the right hooks upward on the inside. You then draw two perpendicular lines in the middle to form two rectangles.

              And here’s a visual to help you remember the character:

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                The Chinese Character for “Fire”

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                  “The Chinese character for “Fire” – huo – is one of the easier ones for beginners to draw.” You start with the same two lines as you do with the character for “Big,” and then draw one short line on side, like this.

                  Here’s an easy way to visually remember the character huo:

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                    Don’t Fret – It Takes Time

                    While these are some of the more simple Chinese characters, don’t worry if you don’t get them right away. Even adult Chinese people will tell you that it took a long time to learn and memorize each individual character. However, with consistent practice and a commitment to learning, you can increase your knowledge of written Chinese characters and consistently add new ones to your repertoire. The top three tips for patiently learning Chinese characters are as follows:

                    • Practice every day. The best thing you can do is practice every single day. Whether its 10 minutes or 2 hours is up to you, but making regular and consistent time to practice will help you retain the information you learn and improve accuracy.
                    • Make analogies. Much like the five examples above, it’s important to make analogies to help you remember what each character means and looks like. While you may not rely on these images forever, they can especially help in the beginning stages.
                    • Use helpful resources. Finally, you should use all of the available resources you have at your disposal. Whether this is the help of a friend, books at the library, websites, or mobile applications, it’s important to surround yourself with knowledge.

                    Top Resources for Further Study

                    In particular, you should focus on some of the following resources: 

                    • Best mobile application. The Monki Chinese Class iPad app is arguably the single most valuable tool for learning basic Chinese characters. Check out this video to see why.
                    • Best writing utensil. According to this infographic from PensXpress, a provider of custom pens, the pen has been around since at least 400 BC. But, what’s the best option for practicing your Chinese characters today? Opt for a fine pencil or pen; the finer the better.
                    • Best print resource. You can’t forget about print resources and books. For a comprehensive look at basic Chinese characters, check out Reading & Writing Chinese: Simplified Character Edition by William McNaughton.

                    Everyone has a different learning style, so make sure you use the tools and resources that are helpful and interesting to you. Start with the five characters taught in this article and then feel free to expand your knowledge and tackle even more difficult Chinese characters!

                    Featured photo credit: Popping Pandas via poppingpandas.com

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                    Larry Alton

                    Business Consultant

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                    Last Updated on August 20, 2018

                    What Highly Successful People Do Every Day To Perform At Their Best

                    What Highly Successful People Do Every Day To Perform At Their Best

                    What separates highly successful people from the “average crowd?” This is a topic that is widely discussed.

                    If you want to be successful, you have to watch carefully what other successful people do and imitate them. While every successful person has his or her own unique approach, there are a couple thoughts and actions they have in common.

                    Here are 7 habits many successful people have!

                    1. They make a difference

                    If you have an idea, that idea has to change peoples life’s. As long as you’re not helping other people, it’s useless. Don’t start with an activity or business primarily to make money, it won’t work. When you create fans by offering your expertise, they are willing to pay for it. The problem with today’s entrepreneurial mindset is that’s all about “quick” money and not necessarily about making a difference.

                    “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” — Albert Einstein

                    2. They focus on productivity instead of on being busy

                    Do you know those people who always say they can’t meet up with you or help with a certain thing because they’re always busy? I do, and to be honest I was one of them.

                    When I look back, I don’t actually know with what I was being busy. I thought I was being busy, but now I realize I could have done many things in a much more productive way.

                    Is 8 hours of work actually 8 hours when you’re checking your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram updates every 30 minutes? It’s necessary to take a rest once a while, but don’t get lost in hundreds of status updates that make you forget about your priorities.

                    Looking for some tips? Check out this infographic: How to be productive by doing more and working less

                    3. They keep setting S.M.A.R.T. goals

                    You can never reach the success you want if you’re not setting goals. The trick is to set up a couple small, achievable goals and a couple of bigger ones. If you only set up huge, unachievable goals, you’ll get unmotivated and fall back into your old mindset. The small goals keep you motivated and give you the feeling you’re being productive once you achieve them.

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                    Try setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, which is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. These goals are concrete and well-defined measures of your progress.

                    A while ago, I asked a friend of mine what his goal was this year. He told me he wanted a sports car. I told him he will have much trouble reaching that goal because it isn’t specific. He needs to know the brand, the model, the color, what kind of rims etc. Only then he can define how long it’s going to take and what he needs to do in order to buy that car.

                    4. They take action

                    There is a big difference between talking or actually taking action. I’m pretty sure you have people around you who’ve said, “This year, I’m going to lose weight, become fit, and look like I’ve never looked before!” Or, “I’ve got such a good idea, I’m planning to start a new business, but first I’m going to do some research,” which probably results in never taking any action.

                    Many of those people do take action, but the majority do not. It could be many things that keep them from taking action, like fear, no money, or no motivation. The trick is to make a plan and take action right from the start—choose to put in the effort to overcome those obstacles.

                    5. They exercise and eat right

                    The better you treat your body, the better you will feel, which results in better results. Successful people take time to prepare healthy meals and work out for at least 30 minutes a day.

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                    Not having time to work out or prepare a healthy meal is nonsense. If you have time to watch TV or check your social media profile, you also have time to care about your body.

                    You don’t necessarily need to lose weight or gain muscle, but try to stay in shape and watch your junk food intake.

                    6. They always step out of their comfort-zone

                    Successful people are willing to do everything they have to succeed. If they fail, they try it again and learn from it. The vast majority of people think differently and want to stay in their comfort zone.

                    You can’t expect magic is going to happen when you always do the same things over and over again. You need to step up and start doing new things. The fear of failure is usually the reason that keeps people from acting.

                    Think about something you’ve done in the past. Something that was so scary that it made you sweat, feel nauseous, or become overly nervous. That could be giving a speech in front of a big crowd or asking someone on a date. In the end, it wasn’t as scary and difficult as you thought, right? And you’ve learned from it.

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                    Approach everything in your life this way. If you really want to become successful, you need to step out of your comfort zone.

                    “Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” — Brian Tracy

                    7. They lead

                    Successful people are also incredibly good leaders. How can you stand out of the crowd if you follow the herd like anyone else does? The main thing successful people do differently is that they think and act differently from the rest. But they do it in a way that creates fans who follow and support them.

                    You don’t have to be a born leader, but you can learn to be one. An example of a great leader and entrepreneur is Elon Musk. He is the founder of SpaceX and co-founder of Zip2, PayPal, and Tesla Motors. By following his example, you just might find the great leader inside you.

                    Have these tips helped you? Share them!

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                    Featured photo credit: Steve Jurvetson via flickr.com

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