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Easily Mistaken Chinese Language Characters

One of the reasons why students do not like Chinese language is because it is difficult. Chinese language writing system is using characters to represent the words. Thus, you do not know how to pronounce (read) a Chinese character the first time you see it and you lose the interest to learn (Imagine you are reading a Chinese book and you do not know how to read most of the characters). In the end, Chinese language is being labelled as “difficult”.

Chinese language characters are easily mistaken for two reasons: (a) They have the same pronunciation, and (b) Their characters look similar.

Below is a list of easily mistaken Chinese Language characters:

1. 在 vs 再

在 and 再 have the same pronunciation, zai, the fourth tone. 在 is used as preposition and/or verb-to-be. For example:

我在吃饭。 — I am eating rice. (I am having a meal.)

我在学校。 — I am at the school.

再 means again. For example:

请再说一次。 — Please say it again.

2. 累 vs 泪

累 and 泪 have the same pronunciation, lei, the fourth tone. 累 means tired. For example:

我累了。 — I am tired.

泪 has three water drops on the left and an eye on the right, which means water of the eyes => tears. For example:

她哭了,泪在流。 — She cries, tears are flowing.

3. 讲 vs 进

讲 and 进 look similar, both have the character 井, but they are pronounced differently with different meaning.

讲, jiang, the third tone, means talk or tell. For example: 不要讲话。 — Do not talk.

进, jin, the fourth tone, means enter or go in. For example: 走进图书馆之后,就不要讲话。 — After entering the library, do not talk.

The list can go on and on. To “conquer” Chinese language, look out for characters with the same pronunciation and/or similar look. Chinese language is easy; you just need to pay attention to small details.


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