Because 左 and 右 are so similar in the shape, I am wondering how do you learn and remember them? I need a good method to teach.

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    You could remember that "right" (右) has a "box" in it. Boxes have with right angles, you see. – Krazer Feb 13 '15 at 18:39
  • Plus 1. Good. We are so lucky that right angle is the same right. – PdotWang Feb 13 '15 at 19:32
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    右有口 could be used to remember one, and consequently both. – user4452 Feb 13 '15 at 22:26
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    What about pinyin, You4 and Kou3. – PdotWang Feb 13 '15 at 23:39
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    @DrunkenMaster What I see is that those are harder than, say, 前 and 后. – PdotWang Feb 13 '15 at 23:54

Did some research, but all I can find is that both 左 and 右 are actually the same symbol that denotes hand but reversed horizontally in ancient times. This symbol basically formed the top part of the character, which now pointed at same direction.

When I was in kindergarten, my teach used to help us to remember them by telling us 右 has a 口 in it, so it's the hand you use to hold chopsticks and eat since at the time left-hand dominance was considered to be corrected. That's why in China, you almost would not see people write or hold chopsticks with their left hand even it's their dominate hand.


左 looks like it has an "I" in it. I in the alphabet is closer to L (left obviously)

右 looks like it has an "O" in it. O in the alphabet is closer to R (right obviously)

  • I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R – PdotWang Feb 13 '15 at 23:13
  • I, ... , O Maybe better – PdotWang Feb 13 '15 at 23:15

I learned it had something to do with what you do with your hands, the only one I can recall right now is how I differentiate:

When you are working (工) you hold a ruler in left hand and draw with your right.

  • 2
    the (right) hand brings food to the mouth (口). – Krazer Feb 13 '15 at 20:38
  • 1
    Better than the way I did it. As a follow up the student can read the Chinesebreeze book Left and Right: The Conjoined Brothers and never forget it after that. – Colin McLarty Feb 13 '15 at 21:09
  • @ColinMcLarty Hi, we have a logic loop problem. If I do not remember 左 and 右, how could I read the book? But if I do not read the book, how do I remember 左 and 右? – PdotWang Feb 13 '15 at 23:33

If you're a bricklayer you hold your square bricks in your right hand, you hold a level or ruler in your left. The 口 is your brick, the 工 is your level.




In my brain association with politics works well. The LEFT usually support workers (左 has 工 in it) The RIGHT supports the rich and the rich always has food to eat (右 has 口 in it)


That's how I remember it, there is one char call 有(you 3) which is similar to 右(you 4) which could help you remember the sound; but for connecting with English world, I think @Alex Quan's memory hint is great :)


"You are right" is a mnemonic for

右 (yòu) being right (right-hand-side)

This is what someone taught me.


The word work has an anvil and this is in ancient times associated with work. The word right has a mouth, you bring food to your mouth with your right hand.


I like the right-angle one, as written above. One that worked for me, being a lefty, is that 左 looks like it has the English character/word "I" in it. And "I" am a "left"y.

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