Radicals,  Read

Learn 10 Words Special: Radicals 偏旁部首

This is a special episode of Learn 10 Words. Today we will be exploring 10 common radicals.

Radicals are the building block of Chinese characters. Chinese characters can be very intimidating to those new to the language, and learning the Radical system will help with recognizing characters, writing them, and also helping you to make best guesses of characters you have never seen before.

Chinese characters are made up of radicals, if you think of the characters as a lego structure, the strokes are like the individual lego pieces, and the radicals are like the semi-built clusters. You combine strokes to make radicals, then radicals come together with the rest to form the character. Although there are over 200 radicals, learning them means you will know how to write all possible combination of those radicals and therefore means you will be able to write a lot more words.

In general, radicals on the left or at the top will often suggest what the character is about, where the part that is not the primary radical will suggest how to possibly pronounce the word. This is why learning radicals can be extremely beneficial since it allows you to understand the character differently, and guess the meaning and pronunciation of characters you do not yet know.

For example: the character 盯 is made up of the radical 目and 丁. It means to stare, which is what the eye radical suggests, and pronounced dīng, as the right side suggests. This doesn’t work for all characters but does work with a lot of them.

In my video, I will review 10 common radicals, what they mean, and how to remember them easily.


You can download the full resolution printable, and the printer friendly version in the download section.



  • Betty

    This is so helpful, Carol! I’m so impressed that you were able to create this right after we chatted about it! 🙂 What a great resource, and I truly appreciate the sentence examples, too! There were a couple radical names that I had not learned yet, and now I can remember them well enough to teach my kids. <3

    • Carol Zhang
      Carol Zhang

      Thank you Betty! The project was relatively straight forward, so I prioritized to get it done since I can see its uses. It did end up being a bit dry however, so I decided to upload the slide deck in PDF so you can print it and work at them with your children at a slower pace. I think most children won’t be able to sit through that seven minute video, and if they can, they probably won’t remember much.

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