Vocabulary


Air =  空 气  kōng qì 

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Alligator = 鳄 鱼 è yú

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Note the radical 鱼 on the left side of  鳄 indicating that the word 鳄has something to do with fish. In ancient China, alligators were considered to be a type of fish.


Animal = 动物 dòng wù

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动 dòng means move, act, alter

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物 wù means thing, matter

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Together, the two words 动物 means MOVING THING OR ANIMAL.


Beautiful = 美 丽 měi lì

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Belly = 肚子 dù zǐ

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Also means stomach or tripe.


Book (Shū 书)

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书 is pronounced Shū in the first tone. It means book, letter, document or to write.


Carp = 鲤 lǐ 鱼 yú

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Note the left half of 鲤 is the radical 鱼 yú which means fish.

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Children = 小孩  xiǎo hái

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小 xiǎo  means small, little, tiny.

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孩hái  means child 

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China(zhōng 中 gúo 国)

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中 is pronounced Zhōng (Joan) in the first tone. 中 means middle or center.
国 is pronounced Gúo in the second tone. 国means country or kingdom.
中国 means middle kingdom or central kingdom


Chinese New Year (zhōng 中 gúo 国 xīn 新 niάn 年)

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Clam = 蛤 gé

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Claw= 爪 zhuǎ

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Note the shape of the word 爪。 It resembles a Claw.


Clothes = 衣服 yī fú

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Communist Party (Gòng 共 Chăn 产 Dăng 党)

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共 is pronounced Gòng in the fourth tone. It means share, common, general, together.
产 is pronounced Chăn in the third tone. It means to produce, yield, give birth to.
党 is pronounced Dăng in the third tone. It means political party, gang, faction. clique, follower.


Compass (指 南 针 zhǐ nάn zhēn)

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指 zhǐ is pronounced jer in the third tone because zh sounds like the letter j.

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指 means to point or to direct.
南 nάn means south and is pronounced in the second tone.

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针 zhēn means needle and is pronounced in the first tone.

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指南针

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means south-pointing-needle or compass. In Chinese maps, South is at the top of the page and North is at the bottom. The needle points south in Chinese compasses, not north.


Country (Guó 国 jiā 家)

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国 is pronounced guó in the second tone. It means country, state or nation.
家 is pronounced jiā in the first tone. It means family, home or household.
The two words 国 家 mean country, state or nation. This reinforces the Chinese belief that a nation is one big family.


Cow = 牛 niú

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Deer = 鹿 lù

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Demon = 魔 mó 鬼 guǐ

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魔 mó 鬼 guǐ means Demon or Devil
魔 mó

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鬼 guǐ

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鬼 also means Ghost.


Died or death 死 sǐ pronounced in the third tone.

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Dragons (lóng 龙)

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龙 is pronounced lóng in the second tone. 龙 means dragon


Dragon Robe = 龙袍 lonǵ paó 

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Dragon  =龙  lonǵ 

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Robe      = 袍 paó 

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Dragon throne =龙位lóng wèi 

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Dragon =龙lóng 

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Throne = 位wèi  also means seat or place. 

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Dynasty (Chάo 朝 dài 代)

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朝 is pronounced chάo in the second tone. 朝 means dynasty or court.
代 is pronounced dài in the fourth tone. It means historical period, generation, or `to take the place of.’.
The two words 朝代 means dynasty.


Eagle = 鹰 yīng

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Note the word 鹰 has the radical鸟 niǎo at its bottom. 鸟 means Bird.


Ears = 耳 eř 朵 duo

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Earth Dragon =土 龙 tǔ lóng .  

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土 means earth or soil.


Eighty-one = 81= 八bā 十shí 一 yī

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八bā

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十shí

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一 yī

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= eight tens and one


Emperor = 皇帝 huáng dì 

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Emperor’s throne = 帝位dì wèi 

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帝dì = Emperor 

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位 wèi = throne , seat or place 

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England (英 国 yīng gúo)

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Country of England.
The Chinese word 英 yīng is pronounced in the first tone. 英 means outstanding talent. 英 was chosen as the Chinese character for England because of its pronunciation yīng in the first tone.
英国 means ‘country of England’. 国 gúo is pronounced in the second tone and means country.


English language (英 国 话 yīng gúo hùa)

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or (英 语 yīng yǔ)

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or (英 文 yīng wέn)

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英国 话 means ‘speech of England’. 话 hùa is pronounced in the fourth tone and means remark, sentence, language or speech.
英语 also means English language. 语 yǔ is pronounced in the third tone and means language, tongue, words.
Note that 话 and 语 have the same radical on their left side. This radical denotes that the word has something to do with language.
英文 also means English writing or English language.


English man (英 国人yīng gúo rέn)

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英国 人 means `man of England’. 人 means man and is pronounced in the second tone.


Eyes = 眼 yǎn 睛 jīng

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眼睛 yǎn jīng means EYE or EYES Note the radical 目 mù to the left of the two characters 眼睛. 目 also means EYE.
眼 yǎn

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睛 jīng

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Father (父 亲 fù qīn)

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or (爸 爸 bà bà )

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父 fù is pronounced in the fourth tone and means father.
亲 qīn is pronounced in the first tone and means related by blood.
爸 爸 bà bà is pronounced in the fourth tone and means papa or father.


Female = 女nǚ.

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Also means woman or girl.


First 第 一 dì yī

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Chinese word for number one is 一 yī

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When the word 第 dì

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is placed before the number 一, the two words 第一 means First.


Fish = 鱼 yú

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(look for 鱼in Chinese restaurant menus)


Five Claws = 五 wǔ 爪 zhuǎ 

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five  = 5 = 五 wǔ 

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claws      = 爪 zhuǎ

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Fly = 飞 fēi

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Foot = 足 zú 

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or 脚jiǎo

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Both words 足 and 脚 mean foot. Please note that 脚 has the radical 月on its left side.  月 radical often indicates that the word has something to do with body parts.


Gate = 门 mén

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also means door or entrance.


Giant = 巨 大 jù dà  

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means gigantic, enormous, huge or tremendous


Gun-powder (炸 药 zhà yào)

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炸 zhà means to explode, bomb, blow up or blast. Zh is pronounced like the letter j and zhà is pronounced jar

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in the fourth tone. Note the radical 火 hǔo

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(which means fire) on the left side of 炸, hinting that this word has something to do with flames.
药 yào means chemicals or medicines. In ancient China, many chemicals were used as medicines. In fact, gun-powder was accidentally discovered during the Tang Dynasty 1200 years ago. Some monks were searching for the elixir of immortality when they discovered that heating a mixture of potassium nitrate, sulphur and honey produced amazing effects.
Smoke and flames erupted and the whole house burned down. The monks called the mixture 火 药 hǔo yào

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(fire chemical).
Increasing the proportion of potassium nitrate in the mixture made the 火 药 much more explosive and dangerous. That was how gun-powder or 炸 药 (exploding chemical) was discovered.


Han Dynasty (Hàn 汉 chάo 朝)

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汉 is pronounced Hάn in the fourth tone. 汉 means Chinese nationality, Chinese language, man or hero.
朝 is pronounced chάo in the second tone. 朝 means dynasty or court.
The two words汉 朝 mean Han Dynasty which lasted for 426 years from 206 BC to 220 AD. From then on, the word 汉 became synonymous with anything to do with China.


He 他 tā is pronounced in the first tone.

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She 她 tā sounds the same as 他. However, she 她 has the radical 女 on its left. 女 means female.

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Head = 头 toú

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Also means hair, hair-style, top, end, chief, leading, first


Heaven = 天 国 tiān guó = Kingdom in the Sky 

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天 tiān means sky, heaven, overhead or day

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国 guó means country or kingdom.

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History (lì 历 shǐ 史)

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历 is pronounced lì in the fourth tone. 历 means all that came previously. It also means calendar.
史 is pronounced shǐ in the third tone. 史 means history.
历 史 means history or previous records.


Horses (mǎ 马)

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马 is pronounced mă in the third tone. 马 means horse. 马 is also a common Chinese surname. Many Chinese Muslims have the surname 马. My husband’s surname is 马, although he is not a Muslim.


Hundred = 百baǐ .
Also means numerous, or all kinds of.

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I (wŏ 我)

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我 is pronounced wŏ in the third tone. 我 means I or me.
When the word meń 们 is added after a pronoun such as 我, that pronoun becomes plural. Thus 我们 means we。
The word 们 is pronounced in the second tone. 我们is pronounced


It = 它 tā

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(Please note that the three pronouns he 他, she她 and it它 are all pronounced tā. However, they are written differently. Many Chinese people, including myself, often mistakenly say he instead of she or it because the three words are all pronounced tā in Chinese.


Jade (yù 玉)

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玉 is pronounced yù in the fourth tone. 玉 means jade. 玉 also means pure or beautiful.


Jump = 跳 tiào

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also means leap, spring or bounce. Note the radical to the left of 跳. 足 zú means foot and words with this radical usually indicate physical activity.

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Largest = 最 zuì大 dà

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最 zuì means most or utmost: indicating the superlative degree.

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大 dà means big, large, great

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Life = 命ming̀.
Also means fate, destiny, on order or command.

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长chanǵ 时shí

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间 jian̄

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= 久 = long time
长chanǵ 命 ming̀ = long life

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Long = 长chanǵ.
Also means length.

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Long time = 久jiǔ

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Magic = 魔 mó 法fǎ

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魔 mó means magic, mystic, spirit, devil, demon

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法 fǎ means law, method, way

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Male = 男 nań .

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Note the word 男 consists of two halves, upper and lower. The upper half is 田tiań which means field or farmland.

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The lower half is 力 lì which means strength, power or ability.

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Thus a man represents power and strength in the rice fields of China.


Mountain = 山 shān

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(Doesn’t 山 look like a mountain?)


Mountain Top or Summit = 山 顶 shān dǐng

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My (wo 我 de 的)

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我 is pronounced wŏ in the third tone. 我 means I but when the character 的 is added after a pronoun such as 我, that pronoun becomes possessive. Thus 我 的 means my. And 我们的 means our.


New (xīn 新)

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新 is pronounced in the first tone.


New Year (xīn 新 niάn 年)

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Nine = 9 = 九 jiǔ

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Now = 现 在 xiàn zi

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Number = 数 shù 字 zì

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数 shù means to Count

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字 zì means Word.

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Thus 数字 means Counting Word or Number.


One day 一 日 yī rì

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一 = one and is pronounced yī in the first tone.

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日 = day and is pronounced rì in the fourth tone.

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One-fifth 五 分 之 一 wǔ fēn zhī yī

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五 = five. 五 is pronounced wǔ in the third tone.

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分 = part or divide. 分 is pronounced fēn in the first tone.

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之 = zhī means of and is pronounced in the first tone.

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一 = yī means one and is pronounced in the first tone.

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The four words 五 分 之 一 means one part out of five or one-fifth.


One-Hundred Seventeen = 117 = 一 百 十 七

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100 = One-hundred
一yī

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百baǐ

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17 = Seventeen
十shí

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七 qī

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Page (yè 页)

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Page 1 or first page is translated as 第 一 页。

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The word 第 dì is a prefix for ordinal numbers such as first, second, third, fourth etc. 一 means one. 页 means page.


People (reń 人)

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人 is pronounced reń in the second tone. 人 resembles a line drawing of a man with his legs apart. 人means man, person, human being. If the word 们is added after a noun such as 人it makes that noun plural. Thus 人们 means people.


Population 人 口 rέn kǒu

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人 rέn means man

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口 kǒu means mouth

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Printing (印 刷 yìn shūa)

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印 yìn means to print, engrave, seal, stamp, chop. It is pronounced in the fourth tone.
刷 shūa means to brush, clean, daub, paste. It is pronounced in the first tone.
When the word 第 dì is placed before the number 一, the two words 第一 means First.


Rabbit (tù 兔)

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兔 is pronounced in the fourth tone like the word two.


Rain = 雨 yǔ

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The character 雨 looks very much like rain drops seen through a window, don’t you think?


Royalty = 皇 huáng 族 zú
皇 族 means Imperial Clan

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皇 huáng means emperor or imperial

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族 zú means clan

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Say = 说 shuō

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also means speak or talk


Scales = 鳞 liń 片 piaǹ

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鳞liń = scale of a fish. Note the radical 鱼 yú which means fish on the left side of 鳞.

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片piaǹ = flat, thin piece.

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Second 第 二 dì èr

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Chinese word for number two is 二 èr

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When the word 第 dì

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is placed before the number 一, the two words 第 二 means Second.


Second paragraph = 第 dì 二er̀ 段 duaǹ

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第 dì 二er̀ = Second

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段 duaǹ = paragraph

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Seven = 七 qī

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Since the number 17 (seventeen) consists of ten plus seven, the Chinese translates it as 十 七.
Since the number 117 (one hundred and seventeen) consists of one一 hundred 百and ten 十 and seven 七, the Chinese translates it as 一 百 十 七.


Silk (sī 丝)

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丝 is pronounced sī in the first tone. 丝 resembles coils of fine thread. 丝 means silk.


Six feet = 六尺 liù chǐ 

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Stream = 小 xiǎo 河 hé

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小xiǎo means small, little, minor

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河 hé means river. Note the three Dots radical to the left of 河

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Swim = 游 yóu

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(Note the three dots to the left of 游. A character with the `three dots’ radical usually indicate that the word has something to do with water.)


Taiwan (Tάi 台 Wān 湾)

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台 is pronounced tάi in the second tone. It means platform, stage, terrace.
湾 is pronounced wān in the first tone. It means bay, gulf, a bend in a stream. Note the water radical (three dots) on the left side of the character 湾 which denotes that the word has something to do with water.
台湾 is an island-state situated 99 miles off the south-eastern coast of Mainland China in the Pacific Ocean. Majority of the population came from the neighboring province of Fujian in China and speak Chinese.


Ten = 十shí

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Their (ta 他 men 们 de 的)

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Them = 他们tā mén) selves = (自己 zì jǐ)
他 们 means they or them

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自 己 means self or selves

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他 们 自 己 means themselves

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They (tā 他 men 们)

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Third 第 三 dì sān

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Chinese word for number three is 三 sān

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When the word 第 dì

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is placed before the number 一, the two words 第 三 means Third.


Three (三 sān)

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The first three numbers 1,2,and 3 are very easy to write in Chinese. One or 一 yī has one horizontal line. Two or 二 èr has two horizontal lines. And three or 三 sān has three horizontal lines.


Tiger = 虎 hǔ

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Time = 时 shí 间 jiān

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时 间 shǐ jiān means Time, Interlude, or Interval. Note the radical
日 rì on the left side of the character 时. 日means sun or day.
时 shǐ

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间 jiān

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Today (Jīn 今 Tiān 天)

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今 is pronounced Jīn in the first tone. It means modern, present day, contemporary, of our era, today, now.
天 is pronounced tiān in the first tone. It means day, sky, heaven, god, a period of time, season, weather, nature.


Twenty-seven = 27 = 二 er̀ 十shí七qī

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二 er̀

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十 shí

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七 qī

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= two tens and seven


Two meters = 二 米 èr mǐ

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Wang Fu = 王 Wanǵ 符 Fú

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Name of scholar during Han Dynasty who wrote about dragons.
王 Wanǵ = Common surname. Also means king, prince or grand, great.

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符 Fú = symbol

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Water = 水 shuǐ

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We (wŏ 我 meń 们)

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我 is pronounced wŏ in the third tone. 我 means I or me.
When the word meń 们 is added after a pronoun such as 我, that pronoun becomes plural. Thus 我们 means we.
The word 们 is pronounced in the second tone.


Wear = 穿 chuān 

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Write (Xǐe 写)

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写 is pronounced xǐe in the third tone. (the letter X is pronounced SH in Chinese pinyin). It means write.


Yang = 阳 yanǵ.

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In Chinese philosophy, 阳 means the positive or masculine half of nature. Also means sun, sun-light, open or positive.


Yangzi River = 杨子江 Yáng Zǐ Jiāng

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Yangzi River is also called 长 江 cháng jiāng.

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The word 长 cháng means long

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and 江 jiāng means river.

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Note the three dots radical to the left of the word 江 indicating that 江 has something to do with water.
Yang Zi Jiang is the longest river in Asia, measuring 6300 kilometers.  It is the third longest river in the world, following the Amazon in South America and the Nile in Africa.


Year (niάn 年)

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年 is pronounced in the second tone.


Year of the Rabbit (tù 兔 niάn 年)

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Yellow  Dragon = 黄龙 huáng lóng 

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Yellow = 黄huáng 

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Dragon  = 龙 lóng 

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Yellow Emperor = 黄帝huáng dì 

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The word  黄 huáng means the color yellow.

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It is pronounced in the same tone as 皇 which means Imperial or royal.


Yin = 阴yin̄.

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In Chinese philosophy, 阴 is the negative or feminine half of nature. Also means shady, lunar, hidden, private parts.


You (nǐ 你)

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