How many characters are there in Chinese?

Updated on December 27, 2019 in Learn Chinese
6 on August 15, 2018

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!

 
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0 on May 25, 2019

hello,
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: gnrdnaeee@gmail.com
Thank you

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0 on July 4, 2019

Not bad

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0 on July 12, 2019

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. 

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0 on December 4, 2019

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.

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1 on December 25, 2019

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. 

 

on December 27, 2019

 

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. 

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