speak chinese like a native

Character etymology for Elementary - Keys, Wallet, Phone 在

Posted by mandarinboy September 13, 2008 in the Group General Discussion.

Tags: , etymology

A simple character but also very,very frequent one so we will dive in  to 在 today.


Traditional form:   

Pinyin: zài

Meaning:  at , in , on , up to , to rest with , to consist in , to depend on , to be alive , living , to be present , to exist , used to indicate a progressive tense

Frequency: 7

Strokes: 6


+   + 土   土 (earth) suggests the meaning while provides the sound.


Radical part: ,tǔ

Radical meaning: earth, soil

Stroke animation: (the strokes are drawn the direction the picture is tipping)




Etymology: This is a pictophonetic character






The sound is taken from 才 (cái, talent, ability; just, only)  and the meaning from 土 (tǔ, earth). The earth does exist even though the debate if it is round or flat might have been under debate ( sorry, that where a bad joke). The original meaning was " to exist, to live". Man do live,exist on earth. It where eventualy extended to also mean "be loacted in" and like.

Link to nciku usage of the character 在 :


Example words:

指南 zhǐ nán to guide 
南京 Nán jīng Nanjing prefecture level city on the Changjiang, 
南海 Nán Hǎi South China Sea 
南非 Nán Fēi South Africa 
南瓜 nán guā pumpkin 
南极 nán jí south pole 
南下 nán xià southward 

Comments (0) RSS

loading... Updating ...

New lesson idea? Please contact us.