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The Chinese radical dates back as far as the 3rd century and has evolved along with the Chinese language over hundreds of generations. Today, radicals are used as semantic indicators of what a word or character might mean. For begginers, learning radicals is a great way to develop a familiarity with the building blocks of the Chinese language. One example, is the chinese radical 口(pinyin: ku)which indicates a noun or action pertianing to one's mouth. Some characters that posess this radical are: 吃 (chi), to eat, 和 (he) to drink, and 吹(chuai), to blow.

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By learning a handful of basic radicals, one can infer the underlying meaning of Chinese characters. The following content has been designed to help you build an awareness of commonly used radicals. Simply hover your mouse over the squares below to reveal the definition of each radical.

tou
lid
che
sprout
gou
hook
“shan”
hair
zhou
boat
dao
knife
dao
knife
dao
knife