I think the best way to memorize Chinese characters is learning Chinese character decomposition!

See how it is easy to remember Chinese characters with the help of a simple analysis of the character components:

Decomposition of the Chinese character 会 huì ‘can’
𠆢 rén man 云 yún cloud 二 èr two 厶 sī private

𠆢 云 二厶

  • 1
    Is this a real question?
    – dda
    Feb 13, 2017 at 2:37
  • This is a real question. I am very interested in the answers! Feb 13, 2017 at 5:35
  • What do you mean by "best"? And do you want to recognize characters, or recall them? (The first is sufficient for reading, but for writing, you would need the latter.)
    – Brian Tung
    Feb 13, 2017 at 18:49
  • if you try to decompose it, you should know its original glyph, Mandrin chinese is simplified form, its meaning is based on its ancient / traditional glyph. please refer to 字源字形 from zdic.net. Dec 23, 2017 at 12:53

3 Answers 3


It depends on what you mean by memorizing Chinese characters.

  1. Reading : No decomposition needed.

  2. Writing :

    2.1. Handwriting: No decomposition needed.

    2.2. Pinyin input: No decomposition needed.

    2.3. Wubihua method: No decomposition needed.

    2.4. Wubi method: Need to know radicals.

As you can see, only Wubi method requires decomposition of Chinese characters. Since most of Chinese people are not able to use Wubi and not willing to learn it, because of its complexity, we can conclude that decomposition of Chinese characters is not necessary to memorize them.


It also depend on how much you already know about chinese characters and how much time you have to invest on it.

If you are an absolute beginner and you want to learn some basic character in your spare time, I find very useful a smarphone app called Memrise. It has memes to help you memorizing, you can even create your own memes for each character, and it has periodical multiple choice tests for both meaning and pronunciations of characters.

It also teaches radicals.

It is a good method for recognition, but doesn't help a lot if your goal is to become able to write hazi by hand.

To learn to write them, you can use a dictionary smartphone app, like Pleco wich has built-in handwriting recognition, and try to write them again and again until you remember every stroke.

If sudying this way (on your own, with Memrise, in your spare time) consider one/two year to learn more or less 100 characters.

If you attend a Chinese class, Memrise doesn't help since it's too slow.

You could use Pleco's flashcard to help you review the hanzi you don't remember.

If you want to learn to write, there's no shortcut: you have to write down them again and again.


What is the best Way to Remember Chinese Characters? Remembering words is always the most important and difficult thing for language learners. It is the same with Chinese. Many chinese learners complain to me that Chinese words are rather difficult to remember. Here I will introduce the way of how to learn Chinese characters that Chinese people usually use. Actually it can be included as three steps: write Chinese characters, remember Chinese pinyin, and understand characters’ meaning.

Step 1. Write Chinese Characters – remember what characters look like

To remember a Chinese character, you should remember what it looks like at first. To achieve it, you can resort to Chinese characters practice notebook, which we usually call 字帖 (zì tiě). There are two parts for each notebook: one is printed Chinese character, and the other is transparent paper. When you put the transparent paper on the printed characters, you can imitate the characters easily. That is a good way to remember the shape of a word.

Step 2. Practice Chinese Pinyin – remember how characters pronounce

As for this step, I think you should build a solid base, that is, mastering Chinese alphabets. The combination of different alphabets form different pinyin. Then you can practice the pinyin of each character. Here for modern mandarin language, I suggest use the Chinese News channel as materials. You can download some Chinese news resources from the Internet and follow their pronunciations.

Step 3. Understand Characters’ Meaning

From my own perspective, I think this step is closely related to step 2. When you practice the pinyin of each character, you can try to remember and understand its meaning. Here I have to repeat one point: not all characters have clear meaning. Many characters mean something only when they are combined with other characters, such as “么” “哦” “了”. When 么 is combined with 什, it is formed 什么 (means what); when 了is combined with 好, it is formed 好了 (means it’s ok). Do not try to distinguish all single characters, which will make you feel tired.

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