When trying to describe what specific character one is talking about, people often use the following method:


For instance:

包: 书包的包

宇: 宇宙的宇

My questions:

  • What is this thing (method(?)) called?

  • How can one know what the most common word is for a certain character? (i.e.: if I want to tell someone that the charcater I'm talking about is 冰, how can I know what word (perhaps even chengyu) is clearest to describe it?)

  • Are there any lists that contain these types of combinations? Preferably the most common?

  • How can people learn to know these for when others are describing their own names or other things?

3 Answers 3


I always tell other people that Chinese is in fact a descriptive language. We do not make a new name for everything, but rather describe what it is. I just took human anatomy and had some fun explaining this to my classmates. For example skull is 颅(头)骨, which literritly head bone; sternum is 胸骨, which is chest bone.

Back to the question. I'll say this method is called describing. This method is particularly useful when you try to describe homophones characters. Just like saying "sail as in sail boat" to differentiate sail from sale. I guess the easiest way to come up what combination to use is to go by the first definition given in the dictionary.


One of the tasks of Chinese language class in China for the Chinese kids is called 组词,and the other one is 造句.

Means "putting together compound-words" and "making sentences".

The first task is to answer your question. For example,in a homewrok, it says:

请用“组”组词。要求5个词。 答案:组织,分组,组成,组队,第一组。

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