How Many Chinese Characters Need to Know
Posted by Jenie Cao on 2016-07-27 12:04:56 4759


If you are learning Chinese, Chinese characters really drive you crazy, aren’t they? You will ask, how many characters do you need to know? When will I finish the tough learning task? Now I will tell you the answer.

Chinese Characters have been in existence for 5000 years. There is no accurate record of how many Chinese characters have been created up to now. However, it is estimated that there are about 100,000 existing characters and thousands that are commonly used every day. According to statistics, 92% of working papers cover almost 1000 frequently-used Chinese characters, 98% of working papers cover 2000 Characters, and 99% use 3000. The results for simplified characters and traditional characters are similar.

Chinese Dictionary

Shuo Wen Jie Zi 说文解字  is the first book that counted Chinese characters in the Han Dynasty. It collected 9353 characters for the first time. Further, many dictionaries documented characters in the past, such as Kang Xi Zi Dian, collecting 47035 of them in the Qing Dynasty. Zhong Wen Da Zi Dian 中文大字典 collected 49905 characters, and Han Yu Da Zi Dian 汉语大字典 collected 54678 of them. Zhong Hua Zi Han, in the 1920s, has been regarded as the dictionary that collected the most Characters. Even the Japanese “Da Han He Zi Dian” collected 48902 Chinese characters. Nowadays, the recorded number of Chinese characters has reached 90,000 in total, with 7000 of them frequently-used. The HSK (hàn yǔ shǔi píng kǎo shì) test evaluates foreigners’ mastery of Chinese. It is an international standardized test for Chinese language proficiency related to daily life, work, and study. Not only does the HSK focus on spoken Mandarin, but also on reading characters. The test is given for various levels of mastery, so you can make a proper choice for your study goal in accordance with your needs and learning level. Following are the HSK levels, which always include not only vocabulary, but also grammar:

HSK vocabulary level

HSK Level 1: Focuses on the mastery of 150 vocabulary words along with usage of simple Chinese words and sentences.
HSK Level 2: Tests for 300 vocabulary words and a simple daily conversation with native Chinese.
HSK Level 3: Tests for 600 words and the ability of the learner to have a simple conversation with native Chinese on their life, study, and work etc.
HSK Level 4: Focuses on 1200 words and using them in a fluent conversation with native Chinese on a certain topic to express opinions and so forth.
HSK Level 5: Focuses on 2500 words with the ability to read Chinese books and make an address in public.
HSK Level 6: Tests for 5000 words to determine if the learner can easily understand the message they hear or read and then express thinking in a confident way.

So, with the above details for the HSK test, you must have a certain number in mind of how many Chinese Characters you want to study, right? Still feel really hard to learn Chinese characters? Don’t worry, let our Chinese teachers help you!

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