HSK 1

jìng

clean [adj.]
冫 + 争zhēng
ice + contend

clean the ice before the hockey contention

how many?, *wind

derived from: 风fēng wind/windstorm

eight, *animal legs

eight can be /divided and /divided again

a spider has eight animal legs

gān

dry [adj.], *clothesline

inside, *computer

in the movie Inside Out, emotions are stored in something like a computer

alternative breakdown: 田+土 field + soil; anciently, a li was a measurement of distance one could use to measure a field

nín

you [respectful]
你nǐ + 心
you + heart

show respect to the “you” from the heart

chà

fall short of
⺶ + 工
wool + I-beam

if you have wool over your eyes, you might fall short of the next I-beam

shào

acquaint
纟 + 召zhào
thread + summon

Take the end of a thread to summon a new friend in a get acquainted game.

ér

son, *human legs

ne

[grammar particle]
口 + 尼ní
mouth + nun

starting sound of nun

huǒ

fire [n.]

derivative: 灬 cooking fire

kǎo

take an exam
耂lǎo + 丂kǎo
old man + broken bow/5

old man is the proctor of the SAT exam, all he says is “5 minutes”

old man Confucius scores a perfect 5 on the exam

gōng

work [n.], *I-beam

derivative: *经 *crane

ròu

meat

originally a picture of meat

alternative breakdown: 冂+人+人 hood + person + person

a person hanging in a meat locker with a hood over their head

kǒu

mouth

“口字旁”“口字底”

ba

[grammar particle]
口 + 巴bā
mouth + boa

starting sound of boa

female, *woman

shí

ten, *needle

bān

class
王 + 刂 + 王
king/jewel + sword + king/jewel

a class of little kings learns swordplay

day, *sun

nán

south
十 + 冂 + ¥
ten/needle + hood + RMB

gang in the south: drugs, hoods, money

niú

cow

modified versions: 牜 ⺧

lóu

multistory building
木 + 娄lóu
wood + bride

throwing rice on the bride from the second story of a wooden building

thirsty
氵 + 曷hé
water + siesta

wake up from your siesta thirsty, need water

rén

person

derivatives: 亻 *persona, 𠂉 *lying down

hold [v.]
合 + 手
fit + hand

you can hold something when it fits in your hand

fēi

non-, *jail cell

chē

vehicle

derivative: 㐄 *unicycle

mén

gate

le

[-ed], *completed
子 - 一
child - [its arms]

the swaddling is completed when the arms of the child stay tucked in

èr

two
一 + 一
one + one

sān

three
一 + 二
one + two

liù

six
亠 + 八
top hat + eight

top hats go out at six and return at eight

jiǔ

nine
十 + 乚
ten + hook

nine hooks into ten

shēng

life, *seed
丶 + 龶
drop + grow up

picture of a seed on a plant

shàng

above
卜 + 一
magic wand + floor

magic wand hovering above the floor

no, *no symbol
一 + 丿 + 卜bǔ
ceiling + slash + magic wand

alternatively: 下 + 丿 below + slash

go
土 + 厶
soil + monument

go to the monument on a soil path

jīn

now, *clock
8 + h
meeting + “hands of clock”

meeting at 6:45, now!

rice
grain modified

whole grain threshed into grains of rice

lái

come
一 + 米
one + rice

come one, come all, get your free rice

large, *large dog
人 + 一
person + “arms"

a person trying to make themself look large by spreading out their arms

When 大 appears as a component, it is often derived from 犬 dog, so in these cases we'll call it a "large dog" in our stories.

nián

year
午 + 匚
noon + box

Sleep in till noon on New Year’s day, then start checking the boxes of your New Year’s resolutions.

bái

white
丶 + 日
drop + sun

a drop of sunshine: white light

bǎi

hundred
一 + 白bái
one + white

hair turns white at 100

Japanese call age 99 your "white year" because 100-1(百-一)=99(白)

that
刀 + 二 + 阝
knife + two + city walls

point with a knife to that city (the other, the second)

fāng

direction, *compass
丶 + 万
drop + ten thousand

ten thousand directions on a compass, moves by a drop

mèi

younger sister
女 + 未wèi
woman + not yet

younger sister, always being told “not yet

younger sister, named Mae, is not yet a woman

jiě

older sister
女 + 且qiě
woman + shelves

older sister, named Jenna, has her shelf of books you can’t touch

younger brother
丷 + 弗
horns + dollar sign

younger brother with horns, always hoping to make money

older brother
可 + 可kě
can + can

older brother doing the can-can

nán

male
田 + 力
field + power/*muscle

males are more field power

guǒ

fruit
田 + 木
field + tree

fruit orchard: a field of trees

alternatively: 日+木 sun + tree, need sun to ripen the fruit on the trees

míng

name [n.]
夕 + 口
evening + mouth

father whispering his baby's name at night

shouting names of kids to bring them home in evening

call out your name in the evening, so they know who is approaching

individual
𠆢 + 丨
umbrella + stick

express individual style through your umbrella: Gene Kelly “Singin’ in the Rain”

alternatively: 人 + 丨 person + stick: maybe you are counting people, maybe sticks

hǎo

good
女 + 子
woman + child

woman with her child is good

jiā

home
宀 + 豕
house + sow

house on stilts with pigs underneath

shén

what
亻 + 十shí
persona + ten/needle

What in the world is going on here? (sees persona with needle)

me

[suffix]
丿 + 厶
slash + monument

men

[plural]
亻 + 门mén
persona + gate

your persona finds her doppelganger (a person's look-alike) at the gate

mama
女 + 马mǎ
woman + horse

Does your mama like horses?

papa
父 + 巴bā
father + boa

papa is a father protecting his children from a boa

péng

companion
月 + 月
2 body parts

Adam and Eve were created as companions. They were so close, Adam called her “flesh of my flesh.”

gēn

heel [n./v.]
⻊ + 艮gèn
lower leg + silver

"Mother, may I put my silver-spurred heel forward?" (Mother, May I?)

"Silver rush was followed on its heel by the Panic of 1893." (Silver Mining)

kàn

look at
手 + 目
hand + eye

hand over your eyes looking for something

ma

yes/no?
口 + 马mǎ
mouth + horse

asking someone: Do you like horses ?

huì

meeting
8 + I
meeting + Great Wall

ultimate summit meeting: on the Great Wall

period of time
其qí + 月
laundry basket + month

after a period of time, the laundry basket begins to stink: a month is too long between washes

you
亻 + 尔
persona + you [literary]

alternatively: 亻 + ⺈ + 小 persona + mask + small: your persona says, “You (little person)! Put this mask on.”

人尔你

méi

not have
氵 + 殳
water + boomerang

boomerang territory (Western Australia) does not have much water

alternatively: 氵 + 几 + 又 water + wind + right hand: water washes it away, so there is nothing left, wind blows it away, so there is nothing left, hand brushes it away, so there is nothing left

chī

eat
口 + 乞qǐ
mouth + beg

beggars need to eat

fàn

meal
饣 + 反fǎn
food + converse

kids want the converse of meals, only want snack food

hěn

very
彳 + 艮gèn
queue + silver

Soon there was a very long line of men at the silver mining office ready to be hired.

which?
口 + 那nà
mouth + that

ask: Which is it? That one?

huān

merry
又 + 欠
right hand + lack

This is Merry the pirate who lacks a right hand.

de

[possessive particle]
白 + 勺
white + ladle

white de ladle:白色的勺子

miàn

face-to-face
百 + 目
hundred + eye

face-to-face interview: a hundred eyeballs on you

面 also means "noodles": picture a hundred eyeballs tossed in your noodles

lesson
讠 + 果
microphone + fruit

through the microphone: Your first lesson is about fruit…the fruit of your labors!

lǎo

old, *old man
土 + 丿 + 匕
soil + slash + sitting down/spoon

Look at this picture of an old person: soil in eyes, sitting on ground

an old person eventually returns to the soil, has to be fed with a spoon

shī

teacher
刂 + 一 + 巾
sword + one + towel

sword fight between a student and teacher who only has one towel

alternatively: 帅 + 一 commander + ceiling, a commander inside is a teacher

gěi

give
纟 + 合
thread + fit

give threads that fit

qián

in front, *butcher shop
丷 + 刖
horns + butcher

horns hang in front of the butcher’s shop

hòu

behind
𠂆 + 一 + 口
drag + one + mouth

a back seat driver behind you dragging you down

dragging behind in the chanting

duì

that’s right
又 + 寸
right hand + thumb

"That's right!” Swear it with your right hand or just give them a thumbs up.

dào

arrive
至 + 刂dāo
until + sword

waiting in place with swords raised until Mongols arrive

fàng

release [v.]
方fāng + 攵
compass + taskmaster

The taskmaster releases the doves to the four compass directions.

bāng

help [v.]
丰 + 阝 + 巾
bushes + city walls + towel

helping to clean up bushes at the city walls, get a free towel

néng

ability
厶 + 月 + 匕 + 匕
monument + body part + 2 spoons

showing off a special ability at the monument: some trick with a body part and 2 spoons

shí

time
日 + 寸
sun + thumb

primitive sundial: holding up your thumb to see its shadow

hòu

wait
侯hóu + 丨
marquis + stick

"Old marquis has waited for years." (Max Dart)

alternatively: 亻 + 丨 + ユ + 矢 persona with a stick + iron + dart, an old person hears an intruder and waits holding an iron and a dart

kuài

fast [adj.]
忄 + 夬guài
meme + Iron Man

meme of Iron Man zooming by so fast

gāo

tall
亠 + 口 + 冂 + 口
top hat + mouth + hood + mouth

This is a tall man costume with someone on someone else’s shoulders. The guy on top wears a top hat to make him even taller. The guy on the bottom wears a hood to cover his face.

huí

return [v.]
囗 + 口
enclose + mouth

picture of a circle revolving in another

"And with that, the cycle is complete, and he’s headed home." (Trumpeter Wu)

shēn

somebody
丶 +目 + 才
drop + eye + genie

a picture of somebody dancing as an eyeball with an antenna on her head

alternatively: 自 + 才 nose + genius, An aromachologist is somebody who is a nose genius.

jīng

capital
亠 + 口 + 小
top hat + mouth + small

the capital is where the small people go to talk to the top hats

guān

shut [v.]
丷 + 天
horns + heavens

the heavens are shut to the devil (the big guy with horns)

“The heavens were shut to those who built the golden calf.” (Bible Series)

HSK 1

Quiz

lóu

multistory building

mèi

younger sister

gēn

heel [n./v.]

period of time

qián

in front, *butcher shop

jìn

advance [v.]

jué or jiào

senses [n.]

穿

chuān

pass through

kāi

open [v.], *open hands

jiǎ or jià

fake or vacation

duì

that’s right

fàng

release [v.]

bàn

half [n./adj.]

miàn

face-to-face

páng

side [n.], *Columbus

chà

fall short of

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