Sunday, August 14, 2011

How are words formed in Chinese language?

Some of my friends who don’t speak Chinese find it really hard to understand how are the words formed in Chinese language. Unlike English, Chinese language doesn’t have letters which can be combined to form words. So does that mean that there is a unique character for every single word in Chinese language? If you have been following this blog, by now you should have figured out that’s not the case.

We have already learned that the same character, with the same pronunciation and tone, can have more than one meaning depending on the context and use. Please review the post Three uses of (xiǎng). So yes, there isn’t a unique character for every single word in Chinese language.

But today we are going to look at how a Chinese character can be combined with other characters to form new words. Let’s use a character we recently learned, (shǒu), as our example.

(shǒu): hand

Now let’s combine it with other characters:

手表(shǒubiǎo): wristwatch

手册(shǒucè): handbook; manual

手机(shǒujī): cell phone

手绢(shǒujuàn): handkerchief

手铐(shǒukào): handcuffs

手球(shǒuqiú): handball

手套(shǒutào): gloves

I hope this gives you some idea of how some of the Chinese words are formed. Please check out The (hǎo) words of Chinese language if you are looking for another similar post.

1 comment:

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