I started out learning only the simplified versions of Chinese characters, so I now I am trying to learn the traditional variants as well. For this purpose I downloaded a list of the simplifications and studied it through Anki, which worked well for most one-to-one conversions.

What's difficult, however, is when a simplified character has more than one traditional equivalents, i.e. when it depends on which word the character is used in. For instance, 签 has two traditional equivalents, 簽 and 籤. The Anki deck I am using does give some clues on how to use the traditional versions ("I. to sign one's name; label II. inscribed bamboo stick (used in divination, gambling, drawing lots etc") but it would still be nice to see the usage in actual Chinese words.

Do you know if anyone has compiled such a list already?


3 Answers 3


I'm a native speaker in Traditional Chinese. I thought that the wiki link in the comment has already provided a good list to what you want.

However, i suggest you to actually find some examples in the usage of traditional chinese. For example:

  1. 籤 (Please refer to your dictionary for the following vocabulary on your own)

竹籤 抽籤 Here 籤 is a long stick.

簽名 簽署 Here 簽 has a meaning of signature.

Chinese is very different from English. English constructs all the vocabularies on the alphabets you have already known, while Chinese requires you to learn many characters. Then Chinese constructs them into some vocabularies. It might seem a great consumption of time to remember so many different characters in simplified Chinese, not to mention how much time you might spend in traditional Chinese. However, once you've understand a word, you can guess the meanings of other vocabularies using the same character for most of the time

Since you've already had some understandings in simplified Chinese, the best way to connect it to traditional Chinese is to memorize some traditional Chinese vocabularies instead of remembering the corresponding characters in simplified Chinese. It should be easy for you to distinguish and recognize those words once you start memorize traditional Chinese. Always remember that traditional Chinese is the way to understand a character's 部首 and 起源, in spite of the fact that simplified Chinese has less 筆畫.

Hope this will help you.

Finally, a fact of how Taiwanese children learn Chinese is searching every unknown characters in dictionary, writing some vocabularies of that character and memorize it. Learning Chinese takes time for a native speaker, too. Haha


@cindy is right~

And I just want to say something after her.

First, you can set you iPhone (if you have) in language of any type of Chinese. Then you take a long click on the inputs of (any type of) Chinese, to select the characters then find “简⇔繁” . This is a convenient way to check/learn.

Second, the traditional Chinese carried on the early stage of Chinese. Like that of English of Shakespeare’s era, Chinese also had uncertainty once. Sometimes a word had several forms of characters.

The case is 算 vs 筭. They are two calculate tools. 算 is balls in a wooden tray which has horizontal lines to separate and looks like 目. 珠算 means the calculation using balls. 筭 is wooden sticks which often used in strategy since it conveniently carried in army. 籌筭 means the calculation using sticks. But both of them are calculation and we keep 算 as the main one in both types of Chinese nowadays (since 筭 was replaced by abacus a long time ago).

Following the falling of the central government of Zhou (Chou, 周) and the rising of many stats which merged into seven powerful and prosperous stats 2500 years ago, different national cultures of their own were rising up. And they all had their characters. New characters were made for new stuffs, the scholars wanted to keep name (名) fitted on form (形) and reality (实). That’s the origin of uncertainty. Such as 簽 vs 籤 you asked and @cindy answered well.

So in my suggestion, using a dictionary of ancient Chinese, instead of a list of simplified-to-traditional characters, it would be helpful. You don’t need to learn much unusual forms of characters. Or just follow the first point I gave.


I use simplified Chinese so I know the most difficult part to learn traditional Chinese is to memorize the correspondences of a simplified character.

Some characters with the same pronunciation (but diffetent meanings) were reduced to a single one, like 發 and 髮 are both reduced to 发. So it is important to note the meanings.

If you are familiar with Chinese dictionaries(新华字典,现代汉语词典, etc.), you can use directly dictionaries published by Taiwan authorities. As the largest region to use traditional Chinese, Taiwan has forward-lookingly published some online dictionaries. 萌典 would be a good reference!

Different regions have different standards of traditional Chinese, which you may have found via wiki. Follow your heart to form your style of using traditional Chinese characters.

How do you write traditional Chinese on electronic devices? Input methods developed by mainland China may have mistakes to convert simplified characters to traditional ones. So I recommend you to learn a input method of Hong Kong or Taiwan(Zhuyin, Cangjie, etc.).

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