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Structures of Chinese Characters: the Compound Characters (Part One)

The structures of Chinese characters roughly can be divided into two different kinds, which are the single component (独体字) and the compound (合体字). The single component refers to the characters that have only one complete and independent component, while the compound refers to the those characters that have more than one component (the knowledge of component will be given in later lessons).

Most of the Chinese characters are made up of two or more components and the major structures of these characters are left-right structure, top-bottom structure and enclosed structure. Characters of left-right structure and top-bottom structure count for about 90% of all Chinese characters.

In this lesson, we will give some examples to help you understand the compound characters of left-right structure. Please note that in some of the characters, not all strokes are shown one by one, because these have been shown in our former lessons.

1. Left-Right Structure (左右结构 )

On the basis of the sizes of left and right parts, it can be subdivided into three sub-strcutures:

1). a small left part and a larger right part, like the picture shows:
For example: "冲 (chōng, means to dash)" and "你".

你(nǐ, means you)

2). left and right parts are of equal size, like this picture shows:

For example: "的" and "以"

的 (de, used after an adjective)

以 (nǐ, means because of)

3). a larger left part and and a small right part, like this picture shows:

For example: "外" and "引".

外 (wai, outside)

引 (yǐn , to lead)

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