Beginners' Chinese
Beginners' Chinese

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Beginners' Chinese

1.6 Word formation

In this section we talk about combining characters to form new words. You can complete the activities now, but you may also find it valuable to come back to them once you’ve covered the other sections.

Activity 4 Making character combinations

The quiz linked below contains eleven character combinations that have to do with professions, forms of address, pronouns and so on. Drag and drop the appropriate characters to match their English counterparts.

Click here to open the quiz. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]


Below you’ll find tables with all the characters used in the quiz for reference.


We 我们
I am very well 我很好
very good 很好
good person 好人
They 他们
Old Wang 老王
Mr Wang 王先生
Old Li 老李
Mrs Li 李太太
Teacher 老师
Doctor 医生


men lăo shī
hěn wáng
hăo men xiān tài
rén shēng tài

Here are some more combinations of characters:

xiān (first) + shēng (new; to be born; strange) = 先生 xiānsheng (Mr; husband; old-fashioned term for teacher)

xiǎo (little; young) + jiĕ (elder sister) = 小姐 xiǎojie (Miss)

běi (north) + jīng (capital) = 北京 Běijīng (Beijing)

lún (ethics; human relations) + dūn (honest) = 伦敦 Lúndūn (London)

(field; earth; place) + fāng (referring to places and directions) = 地方 dìfang (place)

zhōng (central; middle; medium) + guó (country; kingdom) = 中国 Zhōngguó (China)

Activity 5 Word formation

In the quiz linked below, match the characters to their corresponding pinyin and English translations using the drag and drop options provided.

Click here to open the quiz.


Below you’ll find a table with all the characters used in the quiz for reference.

Word formation

Characters Pinyin English
好人 hǎo rén good person
生字 shēng zì new character
生人 shēngrén stranger
地名 dì míng place name
人名 rén míng a person’s name
北方 běifāng northern place; north
北方人 běifāngrén northerner
姐姐 jiějie elder sister
英国 Yīngguó Britain

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