Blog Archive

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hacking the most difficult Chinese characters (7-9)

We all have some characters that just refuse to stick and that we keep forgetting over and over. The best way of learning tricky characters in Chinese is to deal with them decisively. For more about how to do that, check the first article in this series.

 The most difficult Chinese characters
In this article, I will go through some of the most difficult characters. This difficulty is not based on my opinion, it's based on statistics fetched from our database. We know which characters Skritter users get wrong most often.

For each character, I will explain:
  • Character frequency and basic definition
  • Pronunciation
  • Character composition and formation
  • The component parts and their functions
  • Common words and/or phrases for context
  • Why the character might be difficult
Previous articles: 

4.  抑 (yì) "restrain; press down" (frequency rank: ~2000)

Depending on whom you ask, this is either an associative compound (a hand 扌 pressing 印, altered to 卬 in the modern character) or a phonetic-semantic compound with the same components (卬 is read "áng" and 印 is read "yìn").
This character is the same in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Some very common words including this character are:
  • 压抑/壓抑 (yāyì) "to constrain; oppress"
  • 抑制 (yìzhì) "to inhibit; to restrain"
This character is hard for a number of reasons. The first is that regardless of how the character was formed, neither explanation is very transparent because one of the components have changed. This means that there are clues, but they are indirect. Second, the right part is similar to several other components, including 印, but also 卯 and 叩.

Practise writing the character using the scratchpad!

5.  (mào) "appearance; looks" (frequency rank: ~1400)

This is also a left-right compound. The left part, 豸, is one of the Kangxi radicals and has numerous definitions, including cat, badger, legless insect and mythical animal. This might contribute to making it harder to remember; I suggest sticking with one of these! The right part is 皃, which means "countenance", but which seldom appears in characters. Neither of these appear as characters on their own in modern Chinese.

貌 is part of at least two common words:
  • 礼貌/禮貌 (lǐmào) "courtesy; politeness"
  • 容貌 (róngmào) "looks; appearance"
It's also used to mean "aspect" in grammar, so 完成貌 is perfective aspect.

Both components are tricky but for different reasons. The left part is tricky because it can be confused with numerous other animal components, especially if you don't use one single and distinct image for each. For example: 犭, 豙 and 豕. The right part is very unusual and easily misrepresented as 見 or perhaps 竟.

Practise writing the character using the scratchpad!

6.  凌 (líng) "draw near; insult" (frequency rank: ~1500)

This character is actually my family name in Chinese (my Chinese name is 凌雲龍), so I won't forget it even if I don't write any Chinese for the next 50 years, but I understand that it can be difficult for other students. The character is an obvious phonetic-semantic compound (夌 is also read "líng" and means "to dawdle"). 氵 is one of the forms of water, 水.

Worth noting is that 淩 (with three drops of water) is also an existing character, which means the same thing but which is less common. You should almost never use this character instead of 凌. Personally, this created some problems when I lived in Taiwan, because my bank account was incorrectly registered with three drops of water instead of two.

Here are two common words that include this character:
  1. 冰欺凌 (bīngqīlíng) "ice cream"
  2. 凌晨 (língchén) "very early in the morning"
I remember having problems with this character when I first learnt to write my name in Chinese. I also sometimes mix up similar characters, especially because of similar components on the right, mainly 夋.

Practise writing the character using the scratchpad!


That's it for today! Do you find these characters difficult? Have you developed good mnemonics for than? Or do you have a question? Leave a comment!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Which stroke order is correct? Does it matter?

Stroke order shown in 现代汉语通用字笔顺规范.
In my previous article about stroke order, we looked at why learning correct stroke order is a good idea. In this follow-up article, we're going to discuss what "correct" stroke order means anyway.

Remember that the reasons for learning correct stroke order are related to practical things. This means that you shouldn’t learn it because I or someone else tells you to, you should do it because it will genuinely help you write better characters.

Different standards

That being said, in some cases, it’s not obvious what correct stroke order means. The variations are usually small, only differing in the order of a few strokes, often when two stroke-order rules are in conflict with each other.

Some of these differences are because of regional differences; one version is standard in Mainland China, one in Taiwan; the Japanese character uses a third version. In other cases, there’s no regional preference, it’s just that it makes sense to write the character both ways, so both orders are common.

Note that "makes sense" here doesn't mean from the perspective of a foreigner who has studied Chinese or Japanese for a few months, it means from the perspective of a literate native speaker. In other words, it doesn't mean that anything goes. Don’t invent your own stroke order!

Follow a standard; which one is of secondary importance

If you learn to write in a certain way from a reliable source such as a dictionary or a competent teacher,you can safely ignore other variants if you want. As long as you follow a standard, you should be okay.It doesn't matter that much which standard you follow.

For example, when you write the strokes in 忄 (the vertical radical version of 心, "heart"), you can write it in any of the various available ways. You have better things to remember than such subtle differences. If you really want to know, the Mainland standard is dots first, then vertical stroke; Taiwan standard is left to right.

Correct stroke order in Skritter

In Skritter, we use Mainland standard as described in 现代汉语通用字笔顺规范. This means that when Skritter shows you the stroke order for characters, this is what you will see. For characters that only appear in the traditional set, we use Taiwan’s Ministry of Education dictionary.

However, for the reasons discussed in the previous article, there’s no reason to exclude other standards, so even if we write 忄 with the dots first, then the vertical stroke, you can write this character component from left to right and still get it right. Skritter won’t complain. This is true for a large number of other character component too.

Still, if you do something strange like writing the character backwards or trying to write the vertical stroke from the bottom up, Skritter won’t accept that. Please also note that we update our character database continuously, so if you find a stroke order error or think we ought to accept something we currently don’t, just contact us and we’ll fix it!


Follow a standard, which one doesn't matter as long as it's being used by native speakers. Don't invent your own stroke order even if you think it feels better, at least not until you know how to write relatively well. Skritter will help you and show you the Mainland standard, but will also accept other variants.

This article is based on my experience of learning and teaching how to write Chinese characters. What’s your experience? Did or do you find stroke order to be a big problem? If not, what strategies did you use to make it easier?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Kanji Amnesia: The fall of handwriting in Japan

With the prevalent use of computers in Japan, especially cellphones, the "evolutionary need" to write kanji by hand is steadily declining. It's not uncommon for a Japanese person to whip out their cellphone when they can't think of how to write a character or word, by typing out the phonetic pronunciation, converting it, and then using the phone as a reference. Once seeing the characters it clicks, and they realize what to write. It's a bit a phenomenon where the characters aren't actually forgotten, but just can't be recalled on the fly when writing certain words. It likely started off with more difficult to remember (less commonly used) kanji as a handy reference, but is increasingly being used more and more as a crutch, since it's so easy to type a word or character on your phone.

The concept for this is called "ワープロ馬鹿" in Japanese, translating to "word processor idiot", referring to the fact one would need to look at the converted text in a word processor as a reference to remember what to write.

The fact kanji amnesia is growing is somewhat ironic, coming from a country still obsessed with the fax machine, where it's common practice for businesses to take orders via fax. In the country I live in, I would be pretty surprised if I encountered a modern company that prefers fax, or even yet won't accept email and require fax instead. (This actually happened with my previous landlord, and I thought it was extremely archaic).

However, a decade ago, a now 40 year old Japanese bento box company named Tamagoya tried to modernize their ordering system by only taking orders online, and their sales quickly plummeted. They went back to fax, and now they are doing quite well and take most of their orders via fax. In 2012, 1.7 million fax machines were purchased in Japan, and over 60% of households currently own one. There's something more personal about a handwritten fax, which is likely why the popularity has remained in Japan.

Some claim kanji amnesia is not a problem, not that it doesn't exist, it does, but that using a cellphone to look up a character is not such a bad thing. A survey taken in 2012 shows that 66.5% of Japanese who participated believe their ability to write kanji has declined directly due to the use of texting. For those 40 years or older who took the survey, the percentage increased to 79.5 percent. I personally think it's silly to rely on technology as a crutch like that, much like not learning Math and relying on a calculator. Though it's not exactly the same scenario, I would be pretty irritated if I had to look up the spelling for the word "irritated", and couldn't write it correctly without reference.

With that said, anyone who's studied kanji knows it's far easier to recognize a character than it can be to produce it. Since modern technology has made it so easy to write in Japanese phonetically and have the text converted for you, the amount of characters people are expected to know has recently increased. These are called 常用漢字 (じょうようかんじ), literally "everyday use kanji", which are the set of characters expected to be memorized and producible.
  • 1923: The 文部科学省 (Ministry of Education) listed 1,962 kanji in the 常用漢字 
  • 1931: The former list was revised and 1,858 characters were listed. 
  • 1942: The number went up dramatically to 2,454 characters, though only a portion of those were considered 常用漢字 
  • 1946: 1,850 characters was accepted as those most essential for common use and everyday communication 
  • 1981: The number of 常用漢字 increased to 1,945 characters 
  • 2010: The list was revised to include an additional 196 characters and remove 5 characters, for a total of 2,136. 
The increase of 196 characters in 2010 is logically a direct result of the use of technology and word processors, where people are exposed to characters quite easily and therefor should be more likely to recognize and produce them.

If you think learning 2,136 characters is challenging, you should check out the 漢字検定, which includes 6,355 kanji on the hardest level of the exam. Don't worry, this is rarely passed!

I assume anyone who's reading this agrees kanji amnesia is a problem, (otherwise why use Skritter)? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Why it's important to learn correct stroke order for Chinese characters

I still remember what it was like learning my first few Chinese characters. One of the things I kept asking myself was if it really mattered which order I wrote all those strokes! The end result looked more or less the same anyway, which meant nowhere near as pretty as in the textbook I used. I still persisted, mostly because the textbook I used had stroke order for each character included. I'm glad it had and I'm happy I learnt stroke order from the start.

Learning correct stroke order

Students who learn characters with Skritter don’t really have that problem; you learn correct stroke order just by using the program, unless you have lowered the settings for stroke order strictness. Don't do that. Let me explain why.

Why am I happy I learnt stroke order from the start? Why is it so useful to have an app that integrates stroke order and helps you learn it? There are a few obvious reasons, but also a couple you might not have thought about.

Why you should learn stroke order for Chinese characters

In this article and a follow-up article, I will answer these questions, along with other questions commonly asked about stroke order when learning Chinese.

First, let's look at some reasons why you should learn correct stroke order. Even though Skritter will help you with this by default, it doesn't hurt to know why stroke order matters.
  1. It’s easier to write – Stroke order isn’t random. Instead, it reflects the most practical way of writing characters. You might not agree in some cases, but the more you write, the more you figure out that it all actually makes sense. We have stroke order in English too for the same reason. You don’t write the letter “l” from the bottom up, do you? Even though not every single case might make sense, in general, stroke order rules still make writing a lot easier. Also, by writing the same character the same way every time, your penmanship will improve too.
  2. The result isn’t the same – To the beginner student, the end result looks the same regardless if you follow the correct stroke order or not. However, this isn’t really the case. In handwriting, you can often see when someone has made a stroke order mistake. The faster you write, the more obvious it is. In quick, joined handwriting, wrong stroke order will result in illegible characters. So, even if the results look similar to you, they really aren't. Of course, if you lift the pencil from the paper completely between each stroke and write very slowly, you could in theory write a correct character with the wrong stroke order, but I don't really know why anyone would spend time and effort achieving that.
  3. It’s easier to read handwriting – This is the flip side of the previous argument. If you know correct stroke order, it’s much easier to figure out what normal handwriting (which is often semi-cursive) means. If you write in a different way following your own personal stroke order, it will be hard to decipher which strokes are joined with which in other people's handwriting. Naturally, correct stroke order only makes it easier to read handwriting, it's not enough on its own.
  4. It enables you to use handwritten input – This is convenient when you want to look characters up in a dictionary or write a character you don’t know how it’s pronounced. The crux is that modern handwriting recognition is pretty good, but only if you get the stroke order right. You can write very fast or inaccurately and it will still be okay, provided your stroke order is good. Just check the picture above! I intended to write the traditional character 龍 and even though the writing is extremely bad, my phone still figured it out because the stroke order and general placement were correct. Of course, I don't think you should write like this, I just show it as an example.
  5. There’s no good alternative – Let’s look at the alternative, which would be improvising stroke order or inventing your own rules. There is no advantage with doing this. Even though you think that your version is better, that assessment is based on your very limited knowledge of Chinese. It’s very unlikely to still be a better way of writing once you’ve learnt a few hundred or thousand characters. Creating a consistent system on your own will be hard in itself, so if you’re going to write with a consistent stroke order, why not get it right from the start?
Thus, you should learn the correct stroke order for the characters you learn to write. It might feel frustrating when you first start using Skritter, but you will quickly learn the stroke order rules and once you have done that, you hardly ever have to think about them. Since Skritter will prompt you if you get it wrong, you don't really need to waste any time looking things up.

This makes writing characters much easier. If you lower the stroke order strictness, you will have an easier time when you start out, but there’s really no good reason to do this if you take long-term learning into consideration. Instead, you should increase the strictness. If you’re going to learn to write, it makes sense to learn it properly.

Stay tuned

In the next article, I'm going to discuss what "correct" stroke order actually means. This might seem simple at first, but considering that stroke order is a matter of habit and is meant practically useful, it's not hard to understand that several standards have evolved that all make sense and are correct in their own way. This is partly a regional thing, too, but the point is that there's lots of variation, but more about that in the next article in this series.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Mandarin tone changes in Skritter

As you probably know already, the tones in Mandarin sometimes change their pronunciation depending on the tone of the following syllable. This is called tone sandhi.

The basic rules are simple, but it's very important that you understand them completely, otherwise your pronunciation will suffer. Therefore, before we continue, let's look at our articles explaining these changes:
  1. Tone Sandhi: Tone Changes for the Character "一"
  2. Tone Sandhi: Tone Changes for the Character "不" 
  3. Tone Sandhi: Third Tone
We also have an article about the neutral tone which you should read in case you're confused about what no tone mark means and how the neutral tone is pronounced in different situations.

This leads us to the question of how tone changes are displayed in Skritter. For instance, we display the tones after they have changed for 一 and 不, but not when the first of two third tones changes to a rising tone. Why? What about the neutral tone?

Tone changes of 一 and 不 in Skritter

The basic principle is that we want to help students as much as possible. This means that while most dictionaries list 一 and 不 without the tone changes, we list them with. This is also true in almost all textbooks. This means that you pronounce these words and phrases just like they are written.

The reason they aren't written with tone changes in dictionaries is that the information isn't necessary since the pronunciation is perfectly predictable; you just need to know the tone of the following character.

Several consecutive third tones in Skritter

Now let's consider the case when the first of two consecutive third tones turns into a rising tone. This is almost never displayed, neither in Skritter nor any other teaching material, unless it's in a chapter specifically talking about this tone change.

I don't know the historical reasons behind this, but it isn't too hard to argue that this is a good idea. Consider the difference between writing 你好 as "nǐhǎo" (without tone change) and "níhǎo" (with tone change). In the first case, you know the correct pronunciation by memorising a simple rule (3 + 3 = 2 + 3), but in the second case, you can't know if it's actually 2 + 3 or 3 + 3, you would need to look up the character individually to learn which one it is.

Thus, if we wrote "níhǎo", we would destroy valuable information for students. Thus, we write "nǐhǎo" instead. You have to learn the 3 + 3 = 2 + 3 rule anyway, there's no escaping that.

This isn't the case for 一 and 不, because it's never a problem what the original tones are for these characters; they are first tone and fourth tone, period.

The neutral tone

The neutral tone is much trickier because it's subject to more regional change. In Mainland China, many two-syllable words are pronounced with a neutral tone on the second syllable, but the same words are in some cases pronounced with full tones on both syllables in Taiwanese Mandarin.

Furthermore, the standard we use in Skritter, 现代汉语词典, uses two levels of neutral tones. First, we have words that are definitely neutral tones, no question about it. A example would be 房子 (fángzi) "house", which is never pronounced with a full tone on "zi". Second, there are words that are usually read lightly (一般轻度), but that can be read with a full tone as well. We list this types as neutral in Skritter too.

However, even if these words are displayed as having neutral tones in Skritter, we also accept the full tone, so for a word like 衣服 (yīfu), we also accept "yīfú". This is provided that the word is either of the second kind above (一般轻度) or that the Taiwan standard is with a full tone. If both standards say neutral tone, we will only treat a neutral tone as a correct answer.


We believe that this is the best way to help help you learn Mandarin tones and the pronunciation of characters and words, but it doesn't mean that the policy is followed in all cases. We have a very large number of words and phrases in our database and we need your help making sure everything is correct. If you find any problems, please send us an error report so that we can fix them!

It should also be mentioned that in the current version of Skritter, we don't have the ability to list different pronunciations for words (two characters or more), but this is something we're working on. If you have any other suggestions for how to make tones easier to learn, please let us know!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Easily confused Japanese characters

Many kanji have subtle differences that may be confused or not noticed, especially if they are printed or written small, and even more so if you happen to have studied reading kanji but not writing them. It's no secret that recognition is far easier than producing-- and it's not uncommon for someone who's only studied reading and never writing to recognize 2,000 characters but only be able to write a fraction of them. One of the major reasons why it's important to practice handwriting is to pick up on these subtleties.

A (somewhat lame) example could be, everyone can recognize the Mona Lisa, but unless practiced in producing it, you probably can't mimic a copy to the point where someone recognizes it. Fortunately writing one character isn't remotely as difficult or time consuming as reproducing the Mona Lisa, but hopefully it demonstrates the point!

Here are 15 sets of easily confused Japanese characters:
  1. シ vs. ツ
     ('shi' vs. 'tsu')

    The font in the graphic shows the difference more clearly, and the stroke order is significantly different depending on which you write. In シ (left), the order is small dashes first, top to bottom, then the long dash written from bottom to top. In ツ (right), the order is small dashes first, bottom to top, then the long dash written from top to bottom. One trick for most handwriting and fonts would be to imagine a clock, and visualize which hour the third stroke is pointing toward. For instance, シ points more towards 4 o'clock, and ツ points more towards 2 o'clock.

  2. ソ vs. ン
    ('so' vs. 'n')

    Both stroke orders are the same for these, except ソ (left) is written with the second stroke from top to bottom, while ン (right) is written with the second stroke bottom to top. The same trick can be used as the first set of characters above, where ソ is pointing more towards 2 o'clock, and ン points more towards 4 o'clock.

  3. 入 vs. 人 
     ('enter' vs. 'person)

    These are quite similar, with 入 (left) having the second stroke overlapping and longer than the first, and 人 (right) having the first stroke overlapping and the second stroke shorter. With a lot of fonts these characters look almost identical, with the exception of the strong hook shape at the top of 入. 

  4. 犬 vs. 太
    ('dog' vs 'fat')

    These characters could be tricky at first for a 漢字初心者 (kanji beginner). They're both written almost the same way, with the difference being where the last dash is placed. 犬 (left) has it's dash written in the upper right hand corner, while 太 (right) places the dash in the bottom center. If confusing at first, mnemonics can help-- 犬 can be a *large* dog with a *drop* of drool from it's mouth, and 太 can be a *large* (fat) sumo wrestler with a *drop* of loincloth between his legs.  

  5. 捨 vs. 拾
    〔'discard' vs. 'pick up')

    It's no coincidence these two look so similar. 捨 (left) means "discard", while 拾 (right) means "pick up" or "gather". Besides the verb stems when used, which would be 捨てる and 拾う, mnemonics can be used to keep the two straight. With 捨, the ground component is used (albeit within 舎), which could be used to remember discarding something on the ground. With 拾, the 合 component is used which in 合う means to "merge" or "come together", like picking something up. 

  6. 未 vs. 末 
    ('not yet' vs 'end')

    The character 未 (left) has it's first stroke shorter than the second, while 末 (right) has it's second stroke shorter than it's first. Besides this subtle difference the characters are written the same way. One way to keep track of these while reading is to keep in mind that 未 (left) is a prefix, like in 未読 meaning "unread", and 末 (right) is a suffix, like in 週末 meaning "weekend". 

  7. 緑 vs. 縁
    ('green' vs 'fate/link')

    These are the same, except 緑 (left) uses 水 for the last portion of the character, while 縁 (right) uses 豕.

  8.  宇 vs. 字
     ('eaves' vs 'character')

    The character 宇 (left) uses 于, while 字 (right) uses 子. You'll likely run into the character 宇 most often in the word 宇宙, meaning "universe".

  9. 鳥 vs. 烏
    ('bird' vs 'crow')

    These two are purposefully similar, with the difference being that 鳥 (right) has one extra line compared to 烏 (left). With that said, the word for crow nowadays is typically written as カラス, in katakana.

  10. vs. 士
    ('ground' vs 'warrior')

    The proportions are what make these two different, other than that the strokes and order are the same. 土 (left) has a short first stroke, and a longer last stroke. 士 (right) has a long first stroke, and a shorter last stroke. 士 is also used most commonly as a suffix, like in 兵士 meaning "soldier".

  11. 候 vs. 侯
    ('season/weather' vs. 'lord/daimyo')

    These two aren't just visually similar, but also phonetically identical (no surprise as the right phonetic-half is the same). The first character 候 (left) has an extra stroke (third), and 侯 (right) lacks the stroke.

  12. 幸 vs. 辛
    ('happiness' vs 'bitter/spicy')

    It's interesting the difference between 幸 (left) meaning "happiness", and 辛 (right) meaning "bitter" is just one line.

  13. 氷 vs. 永
    ('ice' vs 'eternity')

    氷 (left) has it's dash (third stroke) in the upper left hand corner, while 永 has it's dash (first stroke) at the upper middle. The other difference besides the placement and stroke order of the dash is the hook shape at the top of 永's second stroke.

  14. 日 vs. 曰
    〔'day/sun' vs 'pretext/say')

    The only difference in these are the proportions of how they're drawn. 日 (left) is drawn taller, while 曰 (right) is drawn wider. You'll probably run into the second character most often in the word 曰く, meaning "pretext; history; story", or "says".

  15. 垂 vs. 重
    ('suspend/hang' vs 'heavy')
These two are definetely different, however when printed small could easily be confused.

Are there any not listed here that you find easy to confuse? Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Hacking the most difficult Chinese characters (4-6)

We all have some characters that just refuse to stick and that we keep forgetting over and over. The best way of learning tricky characters in Chinese is to deal with them decisively. For more about how to do that, check the first article in this series.

 The most difficult Chinese characters
In this article, I will go through some of the most difficult characters. This difficulty is not based on my opinion, it's based on statistics fetched from our database. We know which characters Skritter users get wrong most often.

For each character, I will explain:
  • Character frequency and basic definition
  • Pronunciation
  • Character composition and formation
  • The component parts and their functions
  • Common words and/or phrases for context
  • Why the character might be difficult
(For number 1-3, please check the previous article.) 

Note that all characters in this article are meaning-sound compounds. Such compounds are created by one part carrying information about meaning and another about sound. Read more here if you're not sure how this works.

4.  叙/敘 (xù) "talk; narrate" (frequency rank: ~2100)

This character is a left-right composition consisting of 余 (yú), which is the pronoun "I" in classical Chinese and here gives the character its sound. The second component is originally ⺙ (pū), which means "strike", but in simplified Chinese, this has been replaced by 又 (yòu), which is a pictograph of a hand and means "also" in modern Chinese. 

Some very common words including this character are:
  • 叙述/敘述 (xùshù) "narrate"
  • 叙利亚/敘利亞 (xùlìyà) "Syria (transcription)"
  • 叙旧/敘舊 (xùjiù) "reminisce, talk about old times"
My guess is that this character is hard because most students haven't learnt 余 properly and might confuse it with visually similar characters, such as 金, 全 and 于. Another possibility is mixing it up with 徐 or 序, which are pronounced xú and xù respectively (thanks to Simon for pointing this out). My personal mnemonic for this character is a very old me (余) striking (⺙) my glass to call attention to my guests so I can tell them about old times.

Practise writing the character using the scratchpad!

5.  毅 (yì) "firm; resolute" (frequency rank: ~2200)

 This is also a left-right compound. The left part, 豙, is extremely rare, so it's perhaps butter remembered as a combination of 豕 (pig) and 立 (to stand). This is the sound component (豙 is pronounced "yì" and 立 is pronounced "lì"). The right part is 殳, which is a halberd-like weapon. There is no simplified/traditional difference here.

There is only one really common word for this character and that's 毅力 (yìlì) "perseverance; will power". We also have the less common 毅然 (yìrán) "resolutely".

This character was very hard to learn for me before I learnt the components properly. None of the components are really used as individual characters, so if you don't study them specifically, you won't know them. However, they are quite common as components, so learning them makes sense.

My mnemonic for this character is a boy standing (立) on the back of a  hog (豕) swinging a halberd (殳), participating in some kind of contest to see who can persevere the longest.

Practise writing the character using the scratchpad!

6.  抛/拋 (pāo) "abandon; throw" (frequency rank: ~1700)

 The left part of this character is 扌 "hand", which should be one of the first components you learn because it's so common. It's related to the meaning of the character. In simplified Chinese, the right part is a combination of 九 "nine" and 力 "force“. Note that the traditional version is deceptively similar, but uses 尤 instead of 九.

Here are two common words that include this character:
  1. 抛弃/拋棄 (pāoqì) "to discard; to abandon"
  2. 抛开/拋開 (pāokāi) "to throw out; to get rid off"
Again, this character is probably difficult if you don't sort out the component parts. There are many strokes that form no distinguishing features (such as boxes or other recognisable shapes). However, if you know the parts well, it isn't that hard. Try the mnemonic "using your hands (扌)  to throw something away with the force (力) of nine (九) men" (or, if you learn traditional, "with extraordinary force").

Practise writing the character using the scratchpad!


That's it for today! Do you find these characters difficult? Have you developed better mnemonics than those I share here? Or do you have a question? Leave a comment!