Chinese characters originally came from simple representations of objects and through time they evolved to include more abstract meanings to more fully express language.
The earliest Chinese writings are marks scratched on bones and shells that were used for divination.
A great place to start learning Chinese characters is through the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi, otherwise known as the HSK.
There are 349 characters in HSK Level I and having knowledge of these characters mean that you’re able to understand simple Chinese phrases, and have the basic foundation for communication.
The 5 Rules of Chinese Characters
The stroke order is the most important and fundamental part of Chinese writing.
- Left before right
- Top before bottom
- Horizontal before vertical strokes
- Outside before inside strokes
- Bottom last
Chinese radicals are considered the building blocks of Chinese characters.
Being able to identify a radical is very useful because it can give you an idea about the meaning of a character and second, radicals is how you can look words up in a dictionary (probably less useful today if you’re doing all of your reading electronically).
There are 30 to 40 very commonly used radicals and those are the ones spending time to understand and remember.