Traditional Chinese Characters List 🀄 The 100 Most Common (WITH FREE QUIZ)

Traditional Chinese Characters List | The 100 Most Common Characters

There are literally thousands of characters so today we’re going to start off with a list of the 100 most common Traditional Chinese characters.


Make sure to have a read of our Traditional Chinese vs Simplified Chinese blog if you’re not sure what the difference is.

But you might be wondering, how many characters actually are there?

Well the answer to that isn’t actually as straight forward as you might think it is. According to the Taiwan Ministry of Education’s 2004 Dictionary of Chinese Character Variants (異體字字典, Yìtǐzì zìdiǎn) the figure is 106,230!!

However, most modern-day dictionaries commonly have around 20,000 characters.

For example, the Modern Chinese Language Dictionary (現代漢語詞典 xiàndài hànyǔ cídiǎn) has 12,500 characters.

Are you really expected to learn that many characters!?

The answer is no.

In fact, it’s estimated that you only need to know around 3,000 characters to be able to read most things. After you’ve studied this blog test your knowledge of the top 100 most common traditional Chinese Characters.

⬇️⬇️⬇️ Top 100 Traditional Chinese Characters Quiz ⬇️⬇️⬇️

In 2013 the Chinese government published a list of 3,500 essential characters which is the minimum that Chinese school children are expected to learn.

If this is starting to feel a little overwhelming then relax!

Characters are actually made up of a varying amount of Chinese radicals, so once you’ve become familiar with these it’ll begin to get easier to recognise characters.

For daily life such as ordering food, going shopping and asking for directions, you can actually get by knowing around 500-750 characters. So, take it one step at a time.

So, speaking of small steps a good place to begin is learning our list of the 100 most common Traditional Chinese characters.

Chinese Characters List || 1-10

Chinese Characters List || 11-20

Chinese Characters List || 21-30

Chinese Characters List || 31-40

Chinese Characters List || 41-50

Chinese Characters List || 51-60

Chinese Characters List || 61-70

Chinese Characters List || 71-80

Chinese Characters List || 81-90

Chinese Characters List || 91-100

BONUS || Common Chinese Characters Posters

Want to discover Simplified Chinese as well? Check out the top 50 here

Traditional Chinese Characters List: 1-10

Now, if you’re also familiar with simplified Chinese you might actually notice that the top 10 most common traditional Chinese characters are written exactly the same as their simplified counterpart.

In fact, only around a quarter of the characters on this list differ from the simplified version.

It’s probable that when simplified Chinese was first developed they decided to keep many of the most common characters the same to make things easier.

Traditional CharacterSimplified CharacterPinyinEnglish Translation
de grammatical particle marking possession
shì to be
not, negative
le verb particle marking past tense, completed action, change in condition.
rén person
zài at, located at
yǒu have, there is

Traditional Chinese Characters List: 11-20

With our next 10 characters, we get our first variations from the simplified version.

Traditional CharacterSimplified CharacterPinyinEnglish Translation
zhè this
zhōng middle
lái come
shàng above, on, over/last, previous
guó country
general quantifier
dào to, towards, until, arrive
shuō speak, say
men pluralize nouns referring to people

Traditional Chinese Characters List: 21-30

Traditional CharacterSimplified CharacterPinyinEnglish Translation
wèi in order to, for the purpose of…
together, with
earth, ground, place
chū go out, come out
dào way, path, way
also, as well
shí time period, season
nián year

Learn more about time in Chinese.

Traditional Chinese Characters List: 31-40

Traditional CharacterSimplified CharacterPinyinEnglish Translation
de to have to / adverbial particle
jiù just, simply, right away
yào want, will do, need, important
xià below, under, down / next
because of, in order to / according to
shēng give birth, life
huì can, able, meet, party, society
from, self
zhe verb particle marking a progressive aspect (e.g. -ing)

Traditional Chinese Characters List: 41-50

Traditional CharacterSimplified CharacterPinyinEnglish Translation
go, leave, depart
zhī subordinator, go, leave for
guò pass, cross, exceed
jiā home, family
xué study, learn
duì correct, mutual, pair
~able, may, can
neighborhood, half kilometer
hòu queen
Rooms at Home 🏠 A Complete Guide to Your House in Chinese Thumbnail

Rooms at Home 🏠 A Complete Guide to Your House in Chinese

Put labels on things you see constantly in the house and learn the vocabulary for house in Chinese and every other daily object in this way.

Traditional Chinese Characters List: 51-60

Great, you’ve made it halfway already!!

Just another 50 to go and you’ll be one step closer to your Chinese learning goals!

Traditional CharacterSimplified CharacterPinyinEnglish Translation
xiǎo small
me/mo interrogative suffix
xīn heart
duō many, much, more
tiān sky, heaven, god, day
ér and, furthermore
néng can, be able
hǎo good
dōu all
rán correct, so, like that

Want to learn more body parts in Chinese?

Traditional Chinese Characters List: 61-70

Traditional CharacterSimplified CharacterPinyinEnglish Translation
méi haven’t, there isn’t, no
in, at, for, to, from, by, than
rise, start
hái still, yet
deliver, develop, expand
chéng accomplish, succeed / to become
shì matter, thing, event, accident
zhǐ only, just
zuò do, make

Traditional Chinese Characters List: 71-80

Traditional CharacterSimplified CharacterPinyinEnglish Translation
dāng serve as, act as
xiǎng think, feel, want
kàn see, look at
wén language, literature
without, have not
kāi open
shǒu hand
shí ten
yòng use
zhǔ lord, master, live

You might have noticed we’ve already had a couple of numbers included in this list of most common Traditional Chinese characters.

Learning how to recognise and write numbers in Chinese is also a really good thing to learn and get your head around early on.

Traditional Chinese Characters List: 81-90

Traditional CharacterSimplified CharacterPinyinEnglish Translation
xíng go, OK
fāng side
yòu again, both… and…
like, as, as if
qián in front, previous, first, former
suǒ place
běn basis, origin, edition
jiàn appear to be, meet with
jīng longitude
tóu head, top, first

Traditional Chinese Characters List: 91-100

Traditional CharacterSimplified CharacterPinyinEnglish Translation
miàn face, surface
gōng public, official
tóng same
sān three
stop, end
lǎo old
cóng from, through
dòng move
liǎng two
cháng long, length

And there you have it, the 100 most common Traditional Chinese Characters full list!

Once you’ve learnt these you’ll start to recognise them everywhere, so it’s worthwhile to learn them to build a solid foundation.

Traditional Chinese Characters Quiz

Welcome to your Common Traditional Chinese Characters

的 (de)

不 (bù)

是 (shì)

一 (yī)

了 (le)

人 (rén)

我 (wǒ)

在 (zài)

有 (yǒu)

他 (tā)

這 (zhè)

中 (zhōng)

大 (dà)

來 (lái)

上 (shàng)

國 (guó)

個 (gè)

到 (dào)

說 (shuō)

們 (men)

子 (zǐ)

為 (wèi)

和 (hé)

你 (nǐ)

出 (chū)

地 (dì)

也 (yě)

道 (dào)

時 (shí)

年 (nián)

得 (de)

就 (jiù)

那 (nà)

要 (yào)

下 (xià)

以 (yǐ)

自 (zì)

會 (huì)

去 (qù)

生 (shēng)

著 (zhe)

之 (zhī)

過 (guò)

家 (jiā)

學 (xué)

對 (duì)

可 (kě)

她 (tā)

裡 (lǐ)

后 (hòu)

小 (xiǎo)

麼 (me/mo)

心 (xīn)

多 (duō)

天 (tiān)

而 (ér)

能 (néng)

好 (hǎo)

都 (dōu)

然 (rán)

沒 (méi)

于 (yú)

日 (rì)

起 (qǐ)

還 (hái)

發 (fā)

成 (chéng)

事 (shì)

只 (zhǐ)

當 (dāng)

作 (zuò)

想 (xiǎng)

看 (kàn)

文 (wén)

手 (shǒu)

無 (wú)

開 (kāi)

十 (shí)

主 (zhǔ)

行 (xíng)

方 (fāng)

用 (yòng)

又 (yòu)

前 (qián)

所 (suǒ)

如 (rú)

本 (běn)

見 (jiàn)

經 (jīng)

頭 (tóu)

面 (miàn)

公 (gōng)

同 (tóng)

三 (sān)

已 (yǐ)

老 (lǎo)

從 (cóng)

動 (dòng)

兩 (liǎng)

長 (cháng)

Things You Have To Know About Taiwanese Mandarin Thumbnail

Things You Have To Know About Taiwanese Mandarin

What is the difference between Taiwanese Mandarin and Standard Mandarin? What language do they speak in Taiwan? Your questions are all answered here.

Chinese Characters Posters

A special one here because we are giving you two posters for one. You can even get them free by simply sharing on your Facebook!

Traditional Chinese Characters List || FAQs

What is the most common Traditional Chinese character?

The most common traditional Chinese character is 的 (de) which is a grammatical particle.

What are the 10 most common Traditional Chinese characters?

The 10 most common traditional Chinese characters are 的,一,是,不,了,人,我,在,有,他。

How long does it take to learn the 100 most common Traditional Chinese characters?

If you take Chinese classes you’ll definitely make quick progress in learning the 100 most common Traditional Chinese characters.

Are all simplified and traditional character different?

Only around a quarter of the characters on this list differ from the simplified version.

Where is best to learn Traditional Chinese?

Traditional Chinese is used in Taiwan and Hong Kong but as Cantonese is used mainly in Hong Kong, Taiwan is without doubt the best place to learn Traditional Chinese.

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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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  1. I got the full 100%!!!! So hyped

    1. LTL Team HQ

      Go on CJ!!

  2. Coleman

    So many are the same, should I learn both?

    1. LTL Team HQ

      Your choice Coleman, Simplified is always a good starting point but there’s no harm trying to learn both as you go. Pleco will help you here.

  3. Every one right in the quiz

    1. LTL Team HQ

      The boss!

  4. Layla

    Traditional are way more beautiful, just sayin

    1. LTL Team HQ


  5. Greg Gardner

    How do you know the orientation of the symbols if not in a definable context? e.g. Makers Marks on the bottom of a cylindrical brass bowl? To me the symbols could be read from any of 4 positions.

  6. Chinese Martial Arts (Top 10 Myths Debunked) || + BONUS Vocab

    […] BONUS || Do you know the 100 most commonly used Chinese characters? Check them out here. […]