I just noticed than the 撇 (piě, left-downward stroke, also called "throw") in 左 looks longer than the 撇 in 右 when you type it.

Is this true? Is it an important distinction? If so, why?

Is there some rule for using the longer vs shorter 撇?

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    If you want to find some logic behind it, the logic of the length is determined by Chinese calligraphy stroke order; the second stroke is always longer, and you write 撇 second in 左 while first in 右. The modern stroke orders of PRC and ROC don't follow calligraphy stroke order, so there is no logic behind it. For the calligraphy stroke order, see japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/59820/…
    – dROOOze
    Apr 14, 2020 at 14:41
  • 1
    @dROOOze That link answered my question. Give it to me as an answer and I'll give it to you.
    – Kantura
    Apr 14, 2020 at 15:26
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    @dROOOze I am just about to say the stroke order.... But you get there first.. Apr 14, 2020 at 17:48

2 Answers 2


As an upper-left part of a character, the length of the left-downward (撇) stroke in the shape 「𠂇」 is determined by the traditional* or calligraphic stroke order of the entire 「𠂇」 shape. Specifically, the left-downward stroke among characters where the stroke is written first appear to have a shorter length than those where it is written second.

Whether or not the left-downward stroke is written first or second in the shape 「𠂇」 depends on the object underneath it. Adapted from the Japanese SE answer I wrote here to the question 右 and 石 stroke order differences:

The order that「𠂇」is written depends on the object underneath it. If the component underneath it doesn't exceed the horizontal stroke of「𠂇」(e.g. 右、有、布), then write the left-downward stroke first; otherwise (e.g. 友、左) write the horizontal stroke first.

Examples (mined from jisho.org):

Bottom component narrower than horizontal stroke of 「𠂇」

enter image description here

Bottom component wider than horizontal stroke of 「𠂇」

enter image description here

I will emphasise that this description of the stroke length's relation to the stroke order only works within the framework of the calligraphic stroke order, and that no education standard actually prescribes the calligraphic stroke order as a standard. Neither the Taiwanese (ROC) nor the Mainland Chinese (PRC) stroke order standards write 「右」 in a manner which is consistent with the calligraphic stroke order:

enter image description here

Credit: M4RC0, licensed under CC BY 3.0

*Not to be confused with Traditional Chinese. The traditional or calligraphic stroke order is the order used in Imperial China, and not attached to any education department of a modern government.

The closest educational standard to the calligraphic stroke order is actually from Japan. For all of the the characters mined from jisho.org, the Japanese stroke order matches the calligraphic stroke order.

  • 1
    interesting, i always write the horizontal stroke first, then the left-downward stroke, for the mentioned characters 🙀 Apr 16, 2020 at 12:08
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    @水巷孑蠻 If you write the left downward stroke first for 右, it will be easier to write and recognise cursive :)
    – dROOOze
    Apr 16, 2020 at 12:20
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    errr . . . in recent years, i deliberately changed my hand-writing. i liked to write 隸書, by fountain pen 😸 Apr 16, 2020 at 12:31

As someone uses chinese daily, i dont think there is much of a difference if people can identify and understand what you are saying. Words itself is just a tool to express your thought, as longs as others understand, its not a problem. Just wrote them simular in length and the whole shape looks like the word, and tell others that your handwriting is poor, then nobody would be mad.

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