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Chinese Character Bites – #1 – 的

Hi everybody and welcome to Chinese Character Bites, the only video blog that really helps you to understand and master Chinese characters, one small bite at a time.

With Chinese characters that are really three things you need to know, and we will be covering all of them in these videos.

1) You need to be able to recognise the character and know what it means.
2) You need to know how it’s pronounced and what tone it’s pronounced in.
3) (optional) How to write the character by hand

However, it’s even better if you can try to understand the components of the character and break it down. That will make it easier to remember and less easy to get confused with other characters.

Our character for today -的

In simplified Chinese characters: 的
In traditional Chinese characters: 的
(It’s the same in both traditional and simplified Chinese characters)

Pronunciation:

This character is normally pronounced de in the neutral tone, however there are a couple of exceptions. In a few specific words it can be pronounced dī, dí or dì.

What it means:

This character is a grammar word and normally it’s doing one of two things: either it can be making something possessive, e.g. 我=I    我的=my, or it can show the grammatical relationship between two parts of a sentence. Normally the part of the sentence that comes before the ‘de’ is a modifier of the thing that comes after it.

Let’s break it down:

The left-hand side of the character is 白 and it means white, and this is the radical. In the ancient form of the character it gave the character its meaning. The right-hand side of the character is 勺 and it means spoon. There are complicated historical reasons why the character is formed like this but for now let’s just break it down into these two components.

Ok, we’ve cracked a Chinese character! See you in the next post, for another Chinese character bite 🙂