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行 can be pronunced háng or xíng.

As far as I have seen, it means "OK, to go, profession", and many more other meanings.

Could you briefly summarize the usage of it and its corresponding pronunciation. Because whenever I see this character I am lost.

Are there any clue to help to match it with its correct pronunciation/meaning whenever I see it?

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whenever I see 行 on a shop sign, I say xing2, even though I know it should be hang2 – Matthew Rudy 马泰 Nov 7 '12 at 16:33
up vote 7 down vote accepted
  1. háng (in most noun)

    (1) line, row 表格中的一行 a row in a table, 字里行间 between the lines

    (2) seniority among brothers and sisters, 我排行第二 I'm the second eldest one.

    (3) some place of business, 银行 bank,花行 flower shop,商行 trading company

    (4) trade, company(not very exact) 行业,同行

    (5) measure word 一行,两行

  2. xíng (verb, use verb as noun)

    (1) walk -> distance 步行,行走 walk, on foot,

    (2) something used when going out 行装 outfit for a journey,行李 luggage

    (3) transfer, propagation 行销 marketing, 风行一时 be in fashion

    (4) be engaged in 进行 proceed 行刺 assassinate

    (5) a surname 一个姓氏

    (6) behaviour 行为

    (7) elements only in 五行

    (8) can, be able to, have the ability, ok to go

    (9) soon 行将

    (10) 'travel party' 张三等一行人来到花市。

  3. héng skill 道行

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okay... not an easy character... Just wondering for xing2 (5), the character is not appearing, you forgot it ? – Stephane Rolland Nov 7 '12 at 10:32
It's just a Chinese surname. And it is so rare that I don't know any famous person with this surname. – halfelf Nov 7 '12 at 10:48
about (7), you mean Earth, Fire, Water, Wood, Metal ? – Stephane Rolland Nov 10 '12 at 8:51
@StephaneRolland Yes. – halfelf Nov 11 '12 at 12:07

Language is just a tool to express oneself.


If you want to learn a language well, you must get rid of all the "Appeared Language", cast light on the inside.


the meanings of the language sometimes reflect on the wether it is a verb, noun or adj.?


just as you said, "行" can be pronunced háng or xíng, but in different condition, the meaning will be total different!


háng would be mostly used as a "noun" , such as "bank", however, xíng would be mostly used as a "verb" which mostly means "can".

háng大都时候用在名词中,比如说“银行”,xíng 通常会用在动词中,而这些动词的意思通常有“可以”的意思。

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+1 thanks a lot for your answer ! – Stephane Rolland Nov 12 '12 at 11:10

Don't be overwhelmed by that long list of definitions. Just remember three definitions and you'll be 95% covered:

xing2: OK, alright

xing2 (usually used in combinations with other characters): go, move

hang2 (usually used in combination with other characters): industry, line of business/work

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From Sheik. As you can see the situation is even more complex in Cantonese.

/粵拼: haang4 (in compound words, often 'hang4')//漢語: xing2/
1 [v] to go; to walk; to go on foot
[2] [v] to move; to travel; to circulate; to go

/粵拼: hang4//漢語: xing2/
[3] [v] to act; to do; to work
[4] [v] to publish
[5] [v] be current; to prevail
[6] able; capable
[7] all right; OK; enough
[8] baggage for travel
[9] [n] road; path
[10] ready to...
[11] Kangxi radical 144

/粵拼: hong4, hong4*2//漢語: hang2/
[12] [n] row; line
[13] [n] business firm; company
[14] [n] trade; line; profession
[15] [n] generation

/粵拼: hang4//漢語: hang2/
[16] order of siblings according to seniority

/粵拼: hang6//漢語: xing2 (舊: xing4)/
[17] one's conduct; one's behaviour

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it's so strange how these two have completely diverged. Mandarin 行 is composed of left step, one and nail while cantonese 拼 is composed of hand, open and separation... I I can see in the cantonese meanings that these are related, but they look so different ?! – Stephane Rolland Nov 13 '12 at 9:57
Welcome to the wonderful world of Cantonese :-) – dda Nov 13 '12 at 10:30
I think 粵拼 means "Cantonese pinyin" – Stumpy Joe Pete Nov 13 '12 at 18:57
Indeed. jyutping is one of the romanization systems of Cantonese, and in my opinion the best organized one. – dda Nov 14 '12 at 3:08

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