What are the radicals that make up the character "地"?

Just from looking at it, it looks like "土" and "也" but "也" is a word not a radical.

MDBG also has this break down, and in turn breaks "也" down to the "line" radical ("丨") and "乜" but as far as I can tell and also according to MDBG, "乜" isn't a radical or made up of radicals.

To return to my question: What are the radicals that make up the character "地"?

The context to this is that I have just started using mnemonic stories to help me learn new words and their characters. This question has come up with 地球, which means "Earth".

My current mnenomic story uses:

  • 地: soil, "also"
  • 球: king, demand

And so I have, "the soil was also the king's demand". But I'd rather use the canonical radicals and learn things properly!

  • 球 means "ball", and the left part, the 王 (king) radical, is originally 玉(jade).
    – Huang
    Oct 15, 2017 at 23:57
  • do you mean components or radicals? characters only have one radical - but multiple components.
    – Mou某
    Oct 16, 2017 at 1:13
  • 1
    If you are making mnemonic stories, it only has to make sense to you.
    – fefe
    Oct 16, 2017 at 6:06

5 Answers 5


地, the radical is 土.

It is made up of two parts, 土 and 也.

It is 形声字(Phono-semantic compound characters), which means it is made up of two parts, one shows it meaning, the other shows its sound. According to 说文解字 tab in zdic, 也 is the sound part, though 也 and 地 sound very differently now:


■ is a character that cannot be displayed here. Please check the site of zdic

球 is also a 形声字. The 王 part (which is the radical) carries the meaning, which was originally 玉 (jade), and the 求 part carries the sound.


Just here to say that there's a misconception about 'radicals'—部首—in play here. Radicals are not what many people think of: "the things that Chinese characters are made out of"; rather, they are "the part of a given character that it gets sorted under in some dictionaries". Radicals as they are used today were invented by Mei Yingzuo and first appeared in his 1615 dictionary, Zihui 字彙. His idea was not to collect all the parts that might appear in any character, but rather to present a manageable catalog of (mostly) high-frequency components to make locating characters by appearance easier. While many characters did end up under the section header that also acts as the semantophore (the "meaning-part" of phono-semantic compounds) of that character, this is by no means true for all characters, and in many cases the choice is arbitrary.

BTW when you say "也 is a word not a radical", that's mixing up things, I'm afraid. 也 is a perfectly cromulent character, one that may be used to write one or more words. Any given character can (potentially) appear as a component in another character, it doesn't have to be in any list of dictionary radicals to do that. When you look under the hood (and maybe you should), things quickly get more complicated, because many components got abbreviated and / or conflated with other components.

  • Thanks for this detailed explanation, I gathered from the other answers I had misunderstood what a radical was. What is the best way to "look under the hood" as you suggest? (I'm happy to ask that as a separate question, but I'm not sure how to even phrase it...)
    – cfogelberg
    Oct 21, 2017 at 15:36

地 = 土 + 也

According to some researches, 也 means vagina in 甲骨文.


That makes sense, earth is mother of nature.

球 = 玉(originally) + 求

Handiwork of a ball of jade

  • All the sources I saw list 也 as the "sound" part of "地", though the pronunciations of the two characters are very different now.
    – fefe
    Oct 16, 2017 at 6:01

Have a look here:


Where it says pinyin, enter ye then press the button with o


as what you describe ,i guess you have already known that "地" is only made up by left part and right part,and the right part should be as the whole part which cannot be divided. so how to remember ,only practice ,practice and practice. however, what i will tell you is that chinese charactor writing has 6 basic "drawing"(we call "bihua笔画"): [1:一(heng /横)]、[2:丨(shu \竖)]、[3:丿(pie v撇)]、[4:丶(na \捺)or (xie / 斜)]、[5: (zhe /折or wan -弯)] and [6:(gou -钩)or (ti / 提)] then 4:丶(na ) has two kinds:short(also call "dian v 点"(dot in english)) and long. 5: (zhe /) and 6:(gou -) should be combited with [1:一(heng /)] OR [2:丨(shu )]. such as :1+5 we call hengzhe(𠃍),2+5 we call shuzhe(𠃊),2+6 we call shuti(𠄌)or shugou(亅),1+6 we call henggou(乛), 5+6:wangou(㇁),2+5+6:shuwangou(乚);1+5+6:hengzhegou横折钩(㇆)、1+5+5+6:hengzhewangou横折弯钩(㇈、乙)、2+5+5+6:shuzhezhegou竖折折钩(㇉)、hengzhezhezhegou横折折折钩(𠄎)、hengpiewangou横撇弯钩(㇌)、shuwan竖弯(㇄)、hengzhezhe横折折(㇅)、hengzheti横折提(㇊)、hengpie横撇(㇇、フ)、hengzhezhepie横折折撇(㇋)、shuzhepie竖折撇(ㄣ)、shuzhezhe竖折折(𠃑)、piedian撇点(𡿨)、piezhe撇折(𠃋)、zhengzhezhezhe横折折折(㇎),xiegou斜钩(㇂),hengxiegou横斜钩(⺄) these are almost inclueded.

so let us back to your question , how to remember? for 地,you know its radical is 土,writing and read : heng一shu丨ti/(ti is the deformation of heng which has the 45 angle),hengzhegou㇆,shu丨,shuwangou(乚).

ok,just write and read and practice. you will remember all.

more about “bihua”:https://baike.baidu.com/item/%E7%AC%94%E7%94%BB/3040863

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