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 这 [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 国 [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 身 [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 飞 [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 易 [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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