Beginner in Chinese?

Sign up to get a free basic Chinese course complete with MP3 audio, 
plus learning tips and video lessons! 
 
 

Chinese Character Bites – #2 (一)

Our character for today is 一

In simplified Chinese characters: 一
In traditional Chinese characters: 一
(It’s the same in both traditional and simplified Chinese characters)

Pronunciation:

This character is pronounced yī in the 1st tone.

However, when it comes before a 4th tone, it is often pronounced in the 2nd tone, (except when you’re counting 1, 2, 3, 4), for example in 一个苹果 (yī gè píngguǒ – an apple) the yī would be pronounced as yí.

When this character comes before a 1st tone, it is often pronounced in the 4th tone, but again, you usually won’t see it written out like this in dictionaries and textbooks, it’s just something that happens in the spoken language.

What it means:

一 can mean the number one, a/an, single etc
一个人 yī gè rén – a person, one person, alone
一二三四五 yī èr sān sì wǔ – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Let’s break it down:

A single horizontal stroke, written from left to right, representing the number one.

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