Oops! It appears that you have disabled your Javascript. In order for you to see this page as it is meant to appear, we ask that you please re-enable your Javascript!

Structure and Classification

 

Character Structure

The Chinese character structure can be divided into single component and the compound. Most of the Chinese characters are made up of two or more components, and the major structures of these characters are left-right structure, top-bottom structure and enclosed structure.

Structure Type

Description

Chinese Description

Example

Single

Single component

独体结构

Compound

 

Left to Right

左右结构)

Above to Below

上下结构)

Left to Middle and Right

左中右结构)

Above to Middle and Below

上中下结构)

Full Surround

全包围结构

Half Surround

半包围结构

 

Traditional Classification

All Chinese characters are logograms, but there are several derivative types. These include a handful which derive from pictograms and a number which are ideographic in origin, but the vast majority originated as phono-semantic compounds. Below are five main categories of Chinese characters.

Categories

Description

Chinese Name

Example

pictograms

 

idealised pictures of the thing it refers to

象形文字

= mountain

symbols

abstract idea by means of an arbitrary sign

 指事文字)

= up

 

picto-phonogram

character composed of the meaning and pronunciation

 形声字)

艹+采cǎi =菜cài

plant + pick = vegetable

ideogram

combination of meaningful components

 表意文字

女+子 = 好

woman + child =good

phonetic-loans

 

Borrowed characters, two homonyms like too and two.

假 借 文 字

要 = 腰

want = waist