Wondering if there is a set of Chinese characters, some arbitrary set, that demonstrates every possible way a stroke can be used (or just is currently used) in any Chinese character. To put it in a simpler way, say you have these "characters":

               |               |
     _____     |               |
    |     |    |    |  |  |    |      
    |     |    |    |     |    |     / \
    |_____|    |    |     |    |        
               |               |
               |               |

Then they get would cover characters such as this:

               |               |
     _____     |     _____     |
    |     |    |    |  |  |    |       |  
    | / \ |    |    | / \ |    |    | / \ |
    |_____|    |    |_____|    |       _  
               |               |
               |               |

...and lots of others, but it wouldn't represent this one, for example:

    | / \ |    
    | \ / |    

because that pattern isn't in the original top 3 characters combined.

Not sure if any list of suitable characters that aggregates all the strokes used in Chinese typography exists but it seems like one might. If not I feel like if you are a native speaker or have a lot of experience this might be straightforward to find at least a small group of characters that covers the vast majority of cases. But ideally I would like something that covers all the edge cases as well. But if I knew that there were thousands of edge cases, meaning that there were actually thousands of characters which are the only instance of a specifically angled and positioned stroke, then phew, that means there's not really a system and that would be good to know instead too.

  • Chinese character dictionaries can be looked up by strokes. So you can aggregate your own set by using a dictionary. Jan 13, 2019 at 14:43

2 Answers 2


Your answer should be looked up in calligraphic books.
If I'm right, you're looking for a set of Chinese characters or radicals with all kinds of basic strokes. You may know that basic categories of characters are heng (horizontal), shu (vertical), pie (left-slant), na (right-slant), zhe (curve or turn), dian (point, which may be a subcategory of na). Although there is one character that may cover all these categories (永"eternity", which called "永字八法" or "eight fundamentals in Yong" in calligraphy), it cannot cover all strokes if we divide the categories in detail. I'll try to construct a set here to satisfy your need.

Let's start by list one character per stroke:
0. basic -- 永
1. heng
simple horizontal -- 四
horizontal with slant -- 习 (as in President Xi Jinping)
horizontal with final hook -- 辽
2. shu
simple vertical -- 四 (included above)
vertical with final curve -- 四 (included above)
3. dian -- 永 (included above)
4. pie
simple left-slant -- 队
left-slant with initial horizontal -- 永 (included above)
5. na
simple right-slant -- 永 (included above)
6. zhe
vertical with final left hook -- 永 (included above)
curved vertical with final hook -- 辽 (included above)
horizontal-vertical turn with hook -- 习 (included above)
vertical with final right hook -- 民
curved stroke with final hook -- 民 (included above)
L-shaped stroke with final hook -- 匕
horizontal-curved turn with final hook -- 飞
3-shaped stroke -- 辽 (included above)
3-shaped stroke with final hook -- 队 (included above)
left-slant-horizontal turn -- 去

Within seven characters, you get all strokes of Chinese characters.


Almost 90% of Chinese characters are Semantic-phonetic compounds. These characters are composed of two parts: one of a limited set of characters (the semantic indicator, often graphically simplified) which suggests the general meaning of the compound character, and another character (the phonetic indicator) whose pronunciation suggests the pronunciation of the compound character. In most cases the semantic indicator is also the radical under which the character is listed in dictionaries.

Examples are 河 hé "river", 湖 hú "lake", 流 liú "stream", 沖 chōng "surge", 滑 huá "slippery". All these characters have on the left a radical of three short strokes (氵), which is a reduced form of the character 水 shuǐ meaning "water", indicating that the character has a semantic connection with water. The right-hand side in each case is a phonetic indicator. For example, in the case of 沖 chōng "surge", the phonetic indicator is 中 zhōng, which by itself means "middle". In this case it can be seen that the pronunciation of the character is slightly different from that of its phonetic indicator; the effect of historical sound change means that the composition of such characters can sometimes seem arbitrary today.

The structure of these compounds can be categorised into these groups, and you can easily look them up in a Chinese Character Dictionary, the concept of these radicals is called 偏旁部首enter image description here

refers to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_characters

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