speak chinese like a native

这, 国, 身, 飞, and 易

Posted by johnb December 2, 2007 in the Group General Discussion.

It's Monday here in Shanghai, which means its time for an Easy Monday lesson! All of these characters are in the 500 most common Chinese characters, and are a must for any student of Chinese.

We'll start the day with [zhè] -- "this." This is a tremendously useful character, as its used constantly to indicate which of something you're talking about. Most often its followed by a measure word, like 这个 [zhège] -- "this one" -- or 这些 [zhèxiē] -- "these." This character is commonly pronounced [zhèi] in spoken Chinese, and though there seem to be rules for when it is pronounced [zhèi] and when it is pronounced [zhè], but I don't really know them -- I'd recommend that you just get accustomed to when to use which. Radical: 辵 (162). Components: 文辶. Stroke: 7.

The second character today is [guó] -- "country" or "nation." This is another pretty straightforward character, and is pretty much always found in words relating to countries, like 国民 [guómín] -- "citizen" -- or 国家 [guójiā] -- "nation." It is also found at the end of some country's names, such as 中国 [zhōngguó] -- "China" -- and 美国 [měiguó] -- "America." Radical: 囗 (31). Components: 囗玉. Stroke: 8.

Third, let's take a look at the character [shēn] -- "body." 身 in words related to the physical body, like 身体 [shēntǐ] -- "body, health" -- and 身材 [shēncái] -- "figure -- as well as words related to identity and status, such as 身份 [shēnfen] -- "identity, status, capacity" -- and 本身 [běnshēn] -- "itself, oneself, per se." In China, the national ID card is known as a 身份证 [shēnfenzhèng]. Radical: 身 (158). Components: 身. Stroke: 7.

Fourth, we have [fēi] -- "to fly." 飞 can also mean "very fast" in words like 飞快 [fēikuài] -- "lightning fast." Unsuprisingly, it's also in the words for "airplane" -- 飞机 [fēijī] -- and "spaceship" -- 飞船 [fēichuán]. Apparently the character is supposed to look like a flying crane from behind. I'm not so sure about that. Radical: 飛 (183). Components: ⺄. Stroke: 3.

Finally, we'll take a look at [yì], which has the meanings "easy" and "change." You'll most commonly encounter this character in the words 容易 [róngyì] -- "easy" -- and 贸易 [màoyì] -- "trade." It's also in the name of the book that is commonly know in the West as "I Ching" -- 易经 [yìjīng], or the "Book of Changes." Radical: 日 (72). Components: 日勿. Stroke: 8.

Another interesting compound that 易 is found in is 好容易 [hǎoróngyì], which means both "with great difficulty" and "with great ease." Go figure...

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