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DigMandarin Community Forums How many characters are there in Chinese?

  • This topic has 8 replies, 8 voices, and was last updated 9 months ago by marthaclark.
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    • #1404

      Many people are afraid to learn Chinese characters. One reason is that they feel the characters are too complicated. Another bigger reason is that many think that there are too many Chinese characters!

      How many characters in Chinese? There are 54,678 characters that can be found in the Great Compendium of Chinese Characters, or what is called “Hanyu Da Zidian” in Chinese. So, with so many characters, how can Chinese people master and understand the language? The simple answer is that we don’t need to remember that many! 2,500 characters is enough!

      Let`s take a look at some books that have compiled and collected Chinese characters as reference materials: the commonly used Xinhua Dictionary contains more than 11,200 characters; the Chart of Generally Utilized Characters of Modern Chinese lists the existence of 7000 characters; another document called The Chart of Common Characters of Modern Chinese only includes 3500 characters, and 1000 of these are considered “less commonly used characters.” As you can see, the number of commonly used Chinese characters are not that big. Now there are only 2,500 characters left for us to know!

      Let`s put this all into perspective: if you know 2,500 characters, you can read 97.97 % of written text. With 3,500 characters, you can read up to 99.48 %. The Chinese characters used in Chinese literature are basically between 2000 and 3000.So 2,500 characters are enough for you to read a Chinese newspaper and Chinese literature.

      If 2,500 is still too much for you, then let me reassure you that with only 900 characters, you can actually read 90% of a newspaper!

      So don’t be scared to learn Chinese characters! Just go and give it a try!

    • #1550

      i wanted to download HSK Standart course books, but OP changed the links. If you have already downloaded, could you please kindly send the books you have downloaded t my email down below? I would really appreciate it.
      E-mail: [email protected]
      Thank you

    • #1571

      Not bad

    • #1574

      About 5000. But I don’t know the exact number. And if I were you I wouldn’t be interested in that since the beginning. It is not that important. 

    • #1671

      Sophie, It’s not that easy to learn any language especially Chinese as it is different from English . I am trying as early as possible because this semester I have got tasks in which we have to write work using the Chinese language. It will be a tough job for me, still I will not give up.

    • #1675

      Greeting someone, saying sorry or happy birthdays take you a few minutes to learn just a few phrases. To be able to buy a bus tickets, check in a hotel, or have a polite chat with your Chinese colleagues in China, I think 1,000 characters would be what you need. 

      Too read a modern book or new paper written in Chinese text, 3,000 characters will free you from the dictionary. 


    • #1677


      Sorry I think saying “3,000” characters for reading news paper could be a daunting message for some one who wishes to learn Chinese.  Knowing 2,000 characters should be enough for you to read most of the general publications. 

    • #1722

      No exact count now, there are evidence showing above 100,000.

      But if you asked a native-Chinese how many Chinese character they know, it would be hard to show you the exact number. But 3000 Chinese characters nearly cover all what needed in general reading. 

    • #2385


      The Chart of Generally Utilized Characters of Modern Chinese defines the existence of  7000 characters! If you think this number is high, you’ll be shocked to hear that according to the Great Compendium of Chinese Characters or “Hanyu Da Zidian” , the number of existing characters is actually 54,678! But if you’re the kind of person that loves a challenge then there’s the Dictionary of Chinese Variant Form (中华字海; Zhōnghuá zì hǎi). This work, also called the “Yìtǐzì zìdiǎn” (异体字字典), contains definitions of 106,230 Chinese characters!

      But luckily, there’s no need to be scared. Another document called the Chart of Common Characters of Modern Chinese only includes 3500 characters — that’s half the amount included in the first chart. To make things easier, you probably won’t even need 1,000 of them, since they are considered less commonly used characters.

      Thanks a lot for sharing, never think about.


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