Getting started with Chinese 3
Getting started with Chinese 3

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12 Practising and expanding: character head components and

The head component has two meaning associations:

  • The first association is with the moon – normally when it appears on the right side of a character: míng(bright).
  • The other association is with the body or flesh – normally when it appears on the left side of a character and sometimes at the bottom: pàng(fat)  yŏu(to have).

yuè also functions as an independent character, as in sānyuè 三月 (March).

Characters that contain the head component usually have something to do with emotions and/or thinking: gǎn(to feel). xīnis also an independent character, meaning ‘heart’. The expression xīnshàngrén 心上人 (lit. person in the heart) refers to the person one is in love with.

Table 4 Character head components and
Head component Meaning association Name of head component Examples
moon, flesh yuè zì páng 月字旁 (lit. moon character side) péng (friend)
heart xīn zì páng 心字旁 (lit. moon character side) xiăng (to think)

Activity 15

You have just come across xīn (heart). Below are some adjectives that include xīn. Research the meaning of yòng 用,kāi 开,hǎo 好,and fàng and try to work out the meaning of these new adjectives. Match them with their English equivalent.

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. yònggōng 用心

  2. kāixīn 开心

  3. hǎoxīn 好心

  4. fàngxīn 放心

  • a.kindness

  • b.relieved

  • c.attentive

  • d.happy

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = c
  • 2 = d
  • 3 = a
  • 4 = b

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