Mandarin grammar: Strokes

Mandarin characters are formed with strokes.

Mandarin strokes with Burt Bessington

How many strokes are there in Mandarin?

There are around thirty strokes in total in Mandarin. Here are some of the basic strokes:

NameInstruction
diǎn small dash 
héng left to right 
shù down 
piě fall left and curve 
 fall right and flatten 
 flick up and right 
shù gōu down with a hook at the end 

For many centuries the character listen yǒng (forever) has been used to practice writing characters correctly, as it contains each of the basic strokes listed above:

How do you write strokes in Mandarin?

Strokes are written in a certain order in Mandarin to make characters quicker and easier to complete, and to help make them look the same each time:

1. Top to bottom

2. Left to right

3. Horizontal then vertical

4. Intersecting (a line that crosses another line) stroke last

5. Diagonal right to left

6. Diagonal left to right

7. Outside frame before inside

8. Inside before closing frame

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