A very short example for beginners. In less than 5 minutes of your time you read and write around 3% of all Chinese characters used in any text.
The easiest character in Chinese is the character for Number one.
一 (one stroke) .
Number two in Chinese writing will be 二 (two strokes).
And how would you write the Number 3 in Chinese ?
三 (three strokes).
Summary: To learn to write the first three numbers it is only required to learn one stroke. If you write the numbers in English with letters you will need to learn the words: one, two, three.
The first stroke, which resembles also a chinese word and character:
How to write ten ? You just need to use a vertical stroke to cross the stroke for number one. So ten looks like this: 十 in Chinese.
The second stroke:
What is the meaning of 十一 ? It is number elven.
And how would you write 12 ? 十二.
I think by now I do not have to tell you how to write the number 13.
If I put the two 二 before the ten 十 I get twenty 二十. How would you write thirty ?
Can you tell me how to write twenty-one ? Yes, it is written 二十一.
Twenty-two is 二十二 and twenty three ?
How would you write thirty-three ? 三十 三. And now again the challenge for you to write thirty-one and thirty-two in Chinese.
If you cannot figure it out please send me an email.
Summary: With one more stroke that you have learned you can write this amount of English words in Chinese characters: Ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, thirty, thirty-one, thirty-two and thirty-three.
And not only does every Chinese in China understand you but as well every person in Japan and even in Korea or Vietnam.
Tell me: how long did it take you to learn these two strokes and to write the numbers in Chinese ?
If you just add the horizontal stroke 一 on top of the character that symbols the number ten 十 you will get the character for the number thousand 千. All what you have to do is add a little angle to the horizontal stroke so that the left part is slightly lower than the right part. If you want to write the number one thousand please write it as 一 千. You can now write as well two thousand and three thousand. But watch out if you want to write 1001 or 1003 or 1023 you will need to learn a new character. The same applies if you want to write 13 000 or 32 000. Please see the converter:
Converter from Numbers into Numbers written in Chinese Characters
Summary: Add one horizontal line with an angle to the character of the number ten 十 and you will get three more words – one thousand, two thousand and three thousand.
We don’t stop here. If you learn just another 4 strokes you will add several words to your newly acquired Chinese reading and writing capabilities.
Think of the half moon . 月 is the Chinese Character for moon. It is also the character for month. One way to remember this character is to think about the number two (2 Strokes 二) and then to add the shape around the number two strokes.
If you want to write January in Chinese, it is 一月. February will be 二月. And what will be the characters for March ? 三月.
You already know how to write ten in Chinese. Therefore also October will be easy for you – it is 十月. And November ? 十一月. Well, December I won’t tell you, I let you guess it….
Summary: With just 4 more strokes you can now write seven more words: Moon, Month, January, February, March, October, November and December.
Are you still not convinced that Learning Chinese Writing can be much faster than learning English ?
Okay, if you are still in doubt I will add another example. Another 4 more strokes to remember. So far you have learned 6 strokes which make up 6 Chinese characters and which gives you 27 English words.
Think of the sun with one big sun spot in the middle . In Chinese it is written nowadays like this 日. It is the literal meaning for sun, but usually it is used for the word day. You could also remember the character by thinking of the number three 三 to which the vertical stroke from the number ten in Chinese is added to the left and right side.
If you read a Chinese newspaper on the front page you will find the Chinese character for moon/month and the Chinese character for day/sun. Guess what is 三月三日 ? It is March 3. March 2 is 三月二日. And what March 1 ? Clearly February 2 is 二月二日. And November 12 ? 十一月十二日. Okay, I won’t tell you January 1, December 13 or any other dates you now could write in Chinese.
Summary: With four more strokes you can now write: sun, day, January 1,2,3,10,11,12,13,February 1,2,3,10,11,12,13,March 1,2,3,10,11,12,13,October 1,2,3,10,11,12,13,November 1,2,3,10,11,12,13, December 1,2,3,10,11,12,13.
At least when you come across any Chinese newspaper you know what date the article or the newspaper was published.
And without telling you anything, you can probably guess what this means 2013 年 三月三日 ? March 3, 2013. And what is the meaning of the character 年 ? …..
Do you really want to stop here ? I will give you more convincing examples that Chinese can be so easy and even fun.
Another four strokes: See the 5. See the Number 5. The Chinese Characters looks very similar: 五 for 5. Not much difference really.
Actually all of the strokes you more less have seen before. The stroke for one 一, which is used at the bottom and the top of the character. The half-moon stroke 月 used on the left side of the character and the right and down stroke used in the middle of characters which is the same used in the sun character 日.
Now that I have shown you how to write 5 in Chinese – how many more words can you write now ? Plenty, isn’t it. First five, then fifteen 十五, twenty-five 二十五, thirty-five your take, and fifty-one 五十一, fifty-two you do,fifty-three 五十三,fifty-five you know, what about May 五月 and what about May 5 ? ….Guess….Yes….Now….Okay…五月五日. Wow, so many more words with just one more 4 stroke character whereby you have learned all the strokes of the Number 5 before. What means 五 千 ?
– You have learned 5 types of strokes – see Chinese writing strokes – or Chinese Character Dictionary
1. The stroke heng (horizontal) 一 for the Number 1
2. The stroke shu (vertical) 丨 for the Number 10
3. The 2 strokes tóngzìkuàngr to write the moon
4. The stroke hengzhe (horizontal stroke with a vertical turn) for Sun
With these 5 Strokes you now can write 6 Chinese Characters 一 , 二, 三, 月, 日, 五
which represent 78 English words.
What happens when you bring the sun 日 and the moon together ? You will get the character 明, which means bright. Isn’t it brighter if you see the full moon and the sun during morning hours ?
What happens if you add a dot on top of the sun 白 ? The dot looks like the drop of a paint. Written like this 白, this characters stands for the color white.
Now what do you get if you use the character for bright 明 together with the character for white 白? These two characters together 明白 represent the meaning of to understand or to realize.
Summary: Just one more stroke, a little dot on the sun 日 and the combination of characters you already have learned, presented you three new words: bright, white and to understand.
You have come so far now. Did you notice how interconnected the above characters are. Isn’t this magic. Well, if there are still sceptics left….
I add one more . 了 – two strokes. 明白了 means “I see!” Your first grammar. The character 了 is used behind verbs to show that the action has finished, that the action was completed. So with high probability if you see the character 了 the two Chinese characters before will be a verb.
This character alone will represent 1.1% of all Chinese text.
These type of suffixes as 了 are used in other instances. There is a suffixes to indicate a question or there is one to show the plural form. They are always used as indicators after the content is given. But do not worry about these
suffixes for now. We come across those as we scale slowly upwards through the the most used characters in Chinese.
By the end of circulating a few times through the five elements of the Chinese Language you will arrive at 25% of all Characters used in Chinese….
Key in the applied method as probably you have realized by now is not to learn all the numbers or all the rules related to the grammar introduced, rather it is to weave an associative map. As you learn and more characters at a certain point you will add to this association base the charactes for the number of four, six, seven, eight, nine and so on when the time is right. It will be an effortless learning journe. Learning will just happen while you enjoy a peaceful mind.