Chinese Writing: Basic Chinese Radicals

In the dictionary, English words are arranged according to an alphabetical order. Chinese words are often classified according to their radicals. There are 214 radicals all together.

It is very useful to learn the Chinese radicals and their meanings, since each radical gives essential meaning to a Chinese character. Every Chinese character has a radical or the character may be itself a radical. For example, is the character for woman. It is also the radical for other words related to woman:姐姐 = older sister, 妈妈 = mother.Learning Radicals


The following downloadable material from The Learning Lotus Project — This website contains useful visual-based learning materials for Chinese radicals, vocabulary, idioms, etc.:

Learning Radicals (including three Radical Sets): Here are the downloadable first Radical Set with details info about each radical:


The following radicals with pictures are based on Vivid Chinese, authored by Moanna:



Here is a good article about Chinese radicals (偏旁部首)

ID Chinese Trad. Pinyin English Definition
ID Chinese Trad. Pinyin English Definition
1 偏旁 piān páng the left- and right-side of a split Chinese character, often the key (radical) and phonetic
2 部首 shǒu the Chinese radical

Here are basic radicals I encourage you to learn:

ID Chinese Trad. Pinyin English Definition
ID Chinese Trad. Pinyin English Definition
1 rén man; person; people
2 dāo  knife
3 power
4 yòu (once) again;
5 kǒu mouth
6 wéi enclosure
7 mén door; gate
8 earth
9 dusk; evening
10 big
11 female; woman
12 son; child
13 cùn  inch
14 xiǎo small
15 gōng labor
16 yāo tiny; small
17 gōng  a bow
18 horse
19 xīn heart; mind
20  dagger; spear
21 shǒu hand
22  sun; day
23 yuè moon; month
24 bèi cowry (shell)
25 wood; tree
26 shuǐ water
27 huǒ fire
28 tián field; farm
29 eye
30 shì to show
31 fine silk, Used as a radical only, not as a character itself
32 ěr ear
33 clothing
34 yán words; speech; to say; to talk
35 zǒu to walk
36 foot
37 jīn  metal; gold
38 zhuī short-tailed bird
39 rain
40 shí to eat
  • radicals_simp_lores

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Kickstart your character learning with the 100 most common radicals

Chinese Radicals icon

This app includes the following radicals:

Quizlet on Integrated Chinese Level 1, Part 1, Radicals

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