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The following are the first six strokes, the fundamental ones:
heng horizontal stroke (written from left to right) as in the character yi (one)

as in the character shu vertical stroke (written from top to bottom) shi (ten)


down stroke to the left (written from top right to bottom left)

as in the character ba (eight)


down stroke to the right (written from top left to bottom right)

as in the character ru (to enter) as in the character liu (six) as in the character


dot (written from top to bottom right or left)


upward stroke (written from bottom left to top right) ba (to grasp)

2. The last two strokes have several different variations. The first group is composed by five
strokes with a hook: as in the character henggou horizontal stroke with a hook zi (character)

as in the character shugou vertical stroke with a hook xiao (small)

as in the character wangou bending stroke with a hook gou (dog)

as in the character xiegou slant stroke with a hook wo (I, me)

as in the character pinggou level bending stroke with a hook wang (to forget)

3. And the following by two single strokes with a turn:

as in the character shuzhe vertical stroke with a horizontal turn to the right yi (doctor, medicine)

as in the character hengzhe horizontal stroke with a vertical turn kou (mouth)

4. Combined strokes are made out of basic ones. The following are a few examples:
as in the character ye (also)


vertical stroke combined with a level bending stroke with a hook


down stroke to the left combined with a dot

as in the character nu (woman)


vertical stroke with a double turn and a hook

as in the character ma (horse)

Strokes are combined together according to a few fixed rules (and to several exceptions!). Learn these rules, because they're of great help for memorizing characters. They are also fundamental in case you need to recognize the first stroke of a character, but we'll talk about that again.

1. Strokes at the top before those at the bottom.

The character san (three) The character tian (heaven) is written this way: is written this way:

2. Strokes to the left before those to the right.

The character men (door) The character hua (to change) is written this way: is written this way:

3. Containing strokes before contained ones.

The character is written si (four) this way: is written this way:
The sealing horizontal stroke must be written last ("close the door after you have entered the room")

The character

yue (moon)


When there aren't enclosing strokes at the top of the character, enclosed strokes are written first: The character is written this way:



4. Vertical stroke in the middle before those on both sides or at the bottom.
The character shui (water) The character shan (mountain) But:

is written this way:

is written this way:

If it crosses other strokes the vertical stroke in the middle should be written last:

The character zhong (middle)

is written this way:

The fundamental rules - from top to bottom and from left to right - are easily understandable, since they are used in Western writings, too. The others on the contrary need a few exercise. Be sure to learn from the beginning the correct way each different character should be written; otherwise you may find yourself repeating the same mistakes over and over without realizing it, especially when you'll know hundreds of characters.

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