Chinese Words | The BEST Way to Cram New Words in Chinese

How to Learn Chinese Words | The Hack You Never Knew

Chinese is a unique language. There is no alphabet, and from the start that gives newbies a headache when learning Chinese words.

However, this can actually play to your advantage in so many ways going forward. Once you’ve gotten your head around the fact Mandarin is made up of thousands of pictograms, you’ll discover there is actually an ingenious way to learn this language…

Today we are going to teach you our favourite way to learn new Chinese words, equipped with free flashcards from our Instagram channel.

In fact, it was from our very own Instagram channel that we realised just how popular these flashcards were.

Off the back of their extraordinary feedback on Instagram, we wanted to give them further context on our website too, hence the inspiration for this blog post.

You may well be wondering what these flashcards look like. Here is a prime example.

Now, depending on your Chinese level, that may or may not make sense to you. So before going into further detail, we’ll give some background.

Most of this information was taken from our mammoth guide to the Chinese alphabet (or perhaps more accurately, how the Chinese alphabet doesn’t actually exist).

Chinese Words | A Brief Introduction to the Language

Chinese Words | An Introduction to our Flashcards

Chinese Words | Words with 水

Chinese Words | Words with 金

Chinese Words | Words with 电

Chinese Words | Words with 口

Chinese Words | Words with 中

Chinese Words | Words with 眼

Chinese Words | Words with 火

Chinese Words | Words with 钱

Chinese Words | Words with 乐

Chinese Words | Words with 快

BONUS | Free Quiz

Chinese Words | FAQs


Chinese Words | A Brief Introduction

Without wanting to repeat ourselves, we gave a pretty extensive introduction to the “Chinese Alphabet” in another post which you can take a look at here.

Here are some key snippets of text from that article though:

Let’s take the most basic Chinese character: 一 (Yī, means one)

Great, we’ve learnt our first Chinese character. That means every time I see ‘一’ it means that it’s one of something, right? Wrong.

As there is no Chinese alphabet, the characters can be joined together to make another word.

This does follow logic generally. Let us explain:

This is the character meaning common or general: 共 Gòng

So we’ve now learnt two Chinese characters but we are about to learn our third Chinese word, and that is simply by putting these two characters together to make…

 一共 (Yī Gòng)

Anyone take a guess at the meaning of 一共?

It means altogether.

Let’s do the same with two more characters: 时 (Shí means time) and 区 (Qū means Area)

So we have two characters with their own meaning individually, time and area.

But what happens when we put these two characters together?

Learn the Chinese Alphabet

What could the word 时区 mean?

时区: Shí Qū means Time Zone

Time and area together, mean time zone in Chinese.

So, despite the lack of a physical Chinese alphabet, there is a large element of consistent thinking when it comes to learning Mandarin.

With this introduction in mind and a great team by our side here at LTL, we started to create some rather handy flashcards for our students and followers on Instagram…

Chinese Words | Our Flashcards

We spent plenty of time researching some of the most common (and useful words), picked some equally common Chinese characters and started to get creative.

The end result, is images like this:

They immediately became hugely popular, well-shared and even downloaded by students from all over the world.

So in this blog post, we want to bring some of these Chinese words to life even further by providing some examples of sentences which relate to these flashcards.

NOTE | We haven’t included every single LTL flashcard, quite frankly there are too many and we are creating new ones every week.

In this article, we sample a few of them. For more, follow us on Instagram.

Chinese Words | Words with 水

Our first lesson comes with the character 水 which means water in Chinese on its own.

However, we can discover a lot of new Chinese words that also include 水, some related to water, others not so much!

Let’s take a look

Chinese WordMeaningExample Sentence
水果Fruit我最喜欢的水果是苹果
My favourite fruit is apple
水星Mercury (planet)水星是第一颗行星
Mercury is the first planet
水平Level我的中文水平很差
My Chinese level is bad
开水Boiling Water壶里是开水
There is boiling water in the pot
水母Jellyfish水母很可怕
Jellyfish are scary
Learning Mandarin Words

As you can see, despite the lack of an alphabet in Mandarin, the language can be hugely logical.

The key is to learn the most commonly used characters and build from there. Our video above is the perfect tool to help you there.

Once you are beyond this stage, learning new Chinese words actually becomes easier.

Chinese Words | Words with 金

Our second focal Chinese word is 金 which means gold on its own.

金 can actually also represent money, wealth or something highly respected so there are multiple meanings – all generally good ones though!

Here are some useful Chinese words with the character 金 included in them.

Chinese WordMeaningExample Sentence
租金Rent这套房间每月租金一千元
The rent for this flat is 1,000 yuan a month
罚金Fine他被罚款
He was fined
金牌Gold Medal中国队获得金牌
China won the gold medal
金融Finance我在金融工作
I work in finance
税金Taxes税金很贵
Tax is expensive

Learning Mandarin Words

Chinese Words | Words with 电

Onwards we move to character number three.

This is a popular one that appears all over the place.

电 means electricity on its own and therefore has an important place in the hearts of all Mandarin learners because we get important words like these below that stem from 电.

Let’s take a look at some here.

Words in Chinese to Learn

Now let’s put some of these into context with some example sentences.

Chinese WordMeaningExample Sentence
电视TV你喜欢看电视吗?
Do you like to watch TV?
电脑Computer我有一台苹果电脑
I have an Apple computer
电影Movie你昨天看过那部电影吗
Did you see that movie yesterday?
电话Telephone请给他打个电话
Please give him a call
充电Charge (Battery)我可以给手机充电吗?
Can I charge my phone?

Notice the literal translations make Mandarin so logical to learn:

Lex the Lion
  • Computer = Electric + Brain
  • Movie = Electric + Shadow
  • Phone = Electric + Speak

This is the beauty of Mandarin, even if you don’t know a word you can always have an educated guess. More often than not you will surprise yourself and be correct.

Let’s put you to the test and see if you can guess one.

Any idea what 电车 means?

Let’s break it down:

  • 电 we know is electricity
  • 车 means vehicle

Electric Vehicle? Hmm… what could it be.

The answer is….

Tram 🚉

Did you get it? Even if you didn’t I bet you were along the right lines (excuse the pun) 😅

256 Place Names in Chinese 🌏 Rotterdam or Anywhere, Liverpool or Rome... Thumbnail

256 Place Names in Chinese 🌏 Rotterdam or Anywhere, Liverpool or Rome…

What are the world’s most famous place names in Chinese? We’ve got a complete list here, 256 to be precise. From Rome to Rio, Japan to Jakarta!

Chinese Words | Words with 口

Another essential Chinese character here.

口 means mouth on its own (an easier one to remember given it’s shape and resemblance to an open mouth also).

口 is also a commonly used Chinese radical which you’ll see in many instances.

Can you spot the 口 in these Chinese words?

  • 说 | To speak
  • 和 | And
  • 可 | Can, May
  • 后 | Back, Behind, After

All of these words are essential Chinese words.

Let’s take a look at some words that directly include 口 now.

How to learn Chinese words
Chinese WordMeaningExample Sentence
口罩Mask你带口罩了吗?
Did you bring your mask?
口红Lipstick你喜欢这款口红吗?
Do you like this lipstick?
人口Population人口在增长
The population is growing
出口Exit出口在哪里?
Where is the exit?
门口Entrance在门口等候
Wait at the entrance

You’ll often see 出口 when you go to a shop, supermarket or restaurant in China.

Look out for it next time.

To discover more about radicals, check out our guide super handy video guide here.

Chinese Words | Words with 中

Another very widely used character (and radical) next.

It’s time to learn about 中.

中 is a key character to learn, not least because it’s one-half of the name for China.

中国 literally means middle kingdom and is the name of China.

There are plenty more Chinese words including 中, and here is just a small handful of them.

How to learn Chinese words
Chinese WordMeaningExample Sentence
其中Among其中有位老爷爷
Among them was an elderly man
心中In the heart / mind你在我心中的地位
You have a place in my heart
折中Compromise他不会折中
He wouldn’t compromise
途中En route我在途中
I’m on my way
暗中In the dark / secret我在暗中什么也看不见
I couldn’t see anything in the dark

Chinese Words | Words with 眼

眼 means eye so you can imagine there are many eye-based vocabulary that include this character.

Here are some of the more useful ones to learn.

Chinese Words | Learning Chinese
Chinese WordMeaningExample Sentence
眼睛Eye我有蓝色的眼睛
I have blue eyes
眼镜Glasses你喜欢我的眼镜吗?
Do you like my glasses?
眼皮Eyelid你喜欢单眼皮还是双眼皮?
Do you like single eyelids or double eye lids?
眼影Eyeshadow我喜欢这个眼影
I like this eyeshadow
眼罩Eye patch我必须戴上眼罩
I have to wear an eye patch

You can learn more about different body parts in Chinese here.

We teach you over 70 body parts and provide even more excellent flashcards, just like this one.

72 Body Parts🦵🏼in Chinese From Head to Toe - Definitive Guide

Chinese Words | Words with 火

火 is probably one of the easier Chinese words to remember.

What does 火 look like? A burning flame by any chance?

You could also remember it by thinking of a person running with their arms up in the air – away from the fire!

After all 人 does mean person so the story checks out!

Anyway, there’s far more to 火 than just fire.

Here are some of our favourites you should learn.

Chinese WordMeaningExample Sentence
焰火Fireworks你看到焰火了吗?
Did you see the fireworks?
火车Train快,我们的火车来了
Quick, our train is coming
火锅Hotpot我们去吃中国火锅吧
Let’s go for Chinese hotpot
火机Lighter你有打火机吗?
Do you have a lighter?
火星Mars火星是第四颗行星
Mars is the forth planet
Chinese Words | Learning Chinese

One of the great things about China is the hotpot.

火锅 is easy to remember because the literal translation is the same – hot pot.

TOP TIP | If you come to China, get yourself to 海底捞火锅 and experience hotpot like you never have before.

Be sure to ask for the “dancing noodles”…!

Chinese Words | Words with 钱

It’s time to talk money!

There are plenty of Chinese words that include 钱 and here are some of the most important you need to know.

Chinese Words | Learning Chinese
Chinese WordMeaningExample Sentence
换钱Exchange money我在哪里可以换钱?
Where can I exchange money?
取钱Withdraw money您可以在银行取钱
You can withdraw money at the bank
借钱Borrow money妈妈,我可以借钱吗?
Mum, can I borrow some money?
省钱Save money我可以在新工作中省很多钱
I can save a lot of money at my new job
存钱Deposit money我可以存点钱吗?
May I please deposit some money?

If you love learning about money (and who doesn’t), check out this video guide where we introduce you to even more words relating to money.

See how many you can spot that include 钱.

Chinese Words | Words with

Coming towards the end of today’s lesson but we’ve got two more popular Chinese characters to go yet.

First up 乐.

We’ve doubled up on this one because it’s such a happy word, as you’ll see below! 😃

Chinese WordMeaningExample Sentence
可口可乐Coca Cola你喜欢可口可乐还是百事可乐?
Do you like Coca-Cola or Pepsi?
星冰乐Frappuccino我喜欢夏天的星冰乐
I like having a summer frappuccino
乐观Optimistic我不是很乐观
I am not very optimistic
乐透Lottery你做过乐透吗
Have you ever done the lottery?
乐土Happy Place去我们乐土的地方吧
Let’s go to our happy place

You’ll have seen a few brand names include 乐.

This is actually a very smart move on their part to try and win over the Chinese market.

DID YOU KNOW | The choice of brand name in China can make or break its success factor and there are some fascinating stories.

Coca-Cola is one of our favourites though – you can find out more about their naming story in our brand names article here.

Chinese Words | Words with 快

Our final Chinese word is 快 which can mean fast, quick or soon on its own.

Let’s take a look and see how many of those words relate to speed below…

Chinese Words - Learn Chinese Characters
Chinese WordMeaningExample Sentence
快嘴Blabbermouth他是个快嘴
He is a blabbermouth
快步Fast pace快步走
Let’s go quick
快刀Sharp Knife你有一把快刀吗?
Do you have a sharp knife?
快意Pleased她对自己的考试成绩很快意
She was so pleased with her exam result
快乐Happy生日快乐
Happy birthday

BONUS // Free Quiz

Now we’ve done our bit, it’s time for you to do yours!

Ready to put yourself to the test?

We’ve prepared a quick fire 20 question quiz to see how many of the above you remembered!

Results are instantly shown on the screen for you.

If you get a good score, why not share it below?

Welcome to the Chinese Words quiz! Enter your First name and email to begin. Don't worry you can unsubscribe at any time!

First Name
Email
What does 火锅 mean?

What is Exit in Mandarin?

What is Computer in Mandarin?

What does 眼睛 mean?

What does 快乐 mean?

What does 中 mean?

What does 乐观 mean?

What is China in Mandarin?

What is Population in Mandarin?

What is And in Mandarin?

What is the Mouth radical in Mandarin?

What does 租金 mean?

What is Fine/Penalty in Mandarin?

What does 电 mean?

What is Entrance in Mandarin?

What does 可口可乐 mean?

What does 钱 mean?

What is Jellyfish in Mandarin?

What does 说 mean?

What is Train in Mandarin?

FAQs // Learning New Words in Mandarin

What does 火锅 mean?

火锅 means hotpot in Chinese.

The translation from character to English is almost exactly the same – fire (火) pot (锅).

What is money in Chinese?

钱 means money in Chinese and it’s a popular character!

There are plenty of Chinese words that include 钱 as it is one of the more common Chinese characters.

How logical is Mandarin?

Mandarin is actually a very logical language to learn.

Essentially, it is built up of thousands of building blocks (Chinese characters).

Words can be created be putting other words together.

For example:

Computer = Electric + Brain

Movie = Electric + Shadow

Phone = Electric + Speak

All the above words start with 电, the word for electricity.

What is lipstick in Chinese?

Lipstick in Chinese is 口红.

This literally means mouth-red when translated!

Is there a Chinese alphabet?

Chinese is a unique language, there is no alphabet and from the start that gives newbies a headache when learning Chinese words.

However, this can actually play to your advantage in so many ways going forward and once you’ve gotten your head around the fact Mandarin is made up of thousands of pictograms, you’ll discover there is actually an ingenious way to learn this language.

We explain that in this very blog post.

Want more from LTL?

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We give plenty of handy information on learning Chinese, useful apps to learn the language and everything going on at our LTL schools!

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BONUS | Want to study the local Taiwanese dialect known as Hokkien? We provide Hokkien classes in person and online.

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Ask us a question!
  • LTL Avatar Alexander Krasnov
    Alexander Krasnov , Student Advisor

    Welcome to LTL Mandarin School!

    How can I help you?