Mandarin grammar: Radicals
What are radicals in Mandarin?
Take a look at the following Mandarin characters:
树shù - tree 桥qiáo - bridge 林lín - forest
They all contain the component ‘木’.
There is a set group of recurring components of characters, like 木, which are called radicals.
What are radicals used for in Mandarin?
Radicals are used to group Mandarin characters in Chinese dictionaries, but they can also sometimes help you to guess the meaning of those characters.
The examples of ‘tree’, ‘bridge’ and ‘forest’ can all be related to wood (
Here are some other examples where the radical can hint towards the meaning of the character:
|女 (female)||younger sister|
|月 (related to body parts)||stomach|
How do you spot the radical in Mandarin characters?
There are more than 200 radicals in total, but each Mandarin character only has one radical.
The radical may appear anywhere in a character but it is most commonly found on the left, and also at the top or the bottom.
Once you get to know the most frequent radicals, you will spot them very easily.