I started learning Chinese a few months back by myself but stopped as soon as I realized that stroke order was important part of learning the Chinese language I don't want to go for coaching and want to continue learning But I don't want to unlearn every thing after I have reached a level of HSK1 or farther What should I do?

Is coaching really necessary? If it is I can do that as well.

I don't want to make mistakes.


4 Answers 4


You don't need a teacher to learn stroke order properly, you just need to learn the basic rules and make a habit of looking up the stroke order for new characters you learn. This will feel like an additional burden for a while, but you'll soon learn the rules and you will find that you can often guess the right stroke order, even for a character you have never seen before.

If your goal is to write neat, beautiful characters, then you do need input from a human, but to learn basic handwriting and stroke order, you don't have to have a teacher, as long as you look things up.

Some suggested resources:

  • Pleco or Hanping for looking things up on your phone
  • ArchChinese or MDBG for looking things up in your webb browser
  • Looking things up in printed books is a pain, especially if you're a beginner
  • Many apps teach you stroke order: Skritter, Pleco, TOFU learn.

Stroke order might feel like a big hurdle for you at the moment, but it really isn't that hard. Compared to learning any other aspect of Chinese; stroke order will only end up taking up a very small proportion of the time you invest. Just look things up as you learn new characters and after learning a few hundred characters, you'll wonder why you thought it was so intimidating when you first started out.


There are some general rules.

(1) If the whole has only one part, like, 天,then start and finish all the top strokes, followed by the left then right strokes.

(2) If it has two distinct parts, (most likely a "radical character" on the left), like, 侈, always finish the radical first and here you usually also start from the top most stroke. As for the main right hand character, you also start from the top and work your way down.

So, generally, whether it's radical or "main" character, it's:-

left or top stroke first, then go down.

NEVER, right first, bottom up!!!

(3) There are words with radicals on the right, like, 副. Here you do the left main character first.

(4) There are words with radicals at the bottom, like, 思. Do the top main character first.

(5) There are words with radicals on top, like, 茶, (well, by now you should know what to do first)

(6) Words with a "square", like, 国, all the "internal stuff", in this case, 玉,must be finished first before you "close off" the square with the final stroke -- the bottom horizontal line of the square.

After a while, a certain pattern should emerge as you get the hang of it.

Finally, you need to learn as many radicals as you can, (about 200 odd of them; you don't need to learn them all; maybe 20-30 to start off) There is just no way around it. The radicals will get you to use the dictionary, without which no language could be learned.

Also the radicals give you clues as to which "family" in the scheme of things the word belongs; like things that have something to do with water, like "sea", 海,will have the water radical on the left side. But some radicals are not so obvious, like, 岛, ("Dǎo", island); where is the radical?

Finally, practice makes perfect, 熟能生巧, (Shú néng shēng qiǎo)

  • Hey thanks for the heads up
    – NEHA RAO
    Feb 26, 2020 at 8:16
  • No problem, 没问题, Méi wèntí. Actually you are lucky nowadays because you could start using the dictionary by knowing which is the radical in the word. In the bad olde days, you need to actually count the number of strokes, and counting wrongly means you could not find the word. In a way it was good because ten you mustbe able to write the word properly first before you could count the strokes. Feb 26, 2020 at 13:19

We have a page that shows some of the stroke order rules with an example character illustrating the rule. You can find it at:


It starts about half way down the page.


Bother to get the order correct. The consequence of you don't? Online /apps are trained to partially recognize via stroke order, because everyone else is taught it so they can use it as a signal. If you don't, machines won't recognize your communications. You'll be locked out.

What can you do, specifically? Now? Search on Playstore /iTunes for writing apps, read reviews. Pleco is famous, but it's been surpassed years ago. Skritter.com is more expensive than most, and it works. Find what suits you. Stroke order > importance than tones.

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