Writing Basics

Chinese writing is non-alphabetic and non-phonetic. The meaning of a character can be learned without knowing its pronunciation.

Towards the end of the 1950’s, the People’s Republic of China began to simplify a certain number of characters by reducing the number of strokes. Simplified writing is written horizontally from left to right. In Hong Kong, Taiwan and most Chinatowns around the world, traditional characters are used. They are written vertically from right to left.

Chinese characters must be centered in an imaginary square without filling the entire square.

Chinese Character Example

The Strokes

There are eight fundamental Strokes:

  1. The point
  2. The horizontal stroke (left to right)
  3. The vertical stroke (top to bottom)
  4. The up cutting stroke
  5. The left descending stroke
  6. The right descending stroke
  7. The bending stroke
  8. The hooked stroke

Stroke Order

The essential rules of stroke order are:

  • Horizontal then vertical
  • From top to bottom
  • From left to right
  • The outside then the inside
  • Close after filling the frame
  • Left descending then right descending stroke
  • The middle stroke then the left side then the right side
  • The point comes last

Your First Character

Bearing in mind the rules concerning stroke above, you are ready to write your first character.

You first character is zhòng.

First Chinese Character 1First Chinese Character 2
First Chinese Character 3First Chinese Character 4

Meaning and Use  
zhòngmiddle, medium
中国zhōng guóChina
中国人zhōng guó rénChinese person

Once you are able to write the above character, you are ready to move on to the next section. This is the end of the basics lessons.