Learning Chinese stroke order may seem like an unnecessary evil when beginning to learn Chinese. Students may wonder “will anyone actually know if I used the official stroke order? The short answer: usually yes.
There are, however, many other reasons to invest in learning the official stroke order. Here are a few:
Try it for yourself! Write the character for “continent” (洲, zhōu) shown above using the official order shown and then again using any order you want. The characters will likely have a different shape. If you are careful to maintain the shape, it probably took you much longer to write, which leads us to our next point.
The official stroke order was designed with efficiency in mind. Notice how characters are written from top to bottom, for instance, rather than randomly. Your muscles and brain also remember movements, so constantly writing strokes in the same pattern will allow you to eventually write them much faster.
Chinese characters can look vastly different when they are hand written. Some strokes are often blended together, so understanding stroke order can help you recognize these combinations.
So, without further adieu, here is a complete list of the rules!
Rule #1: Left to right 一
Rule #2: Top to bottom 三
Rule #3: Horizontal 一 then vertical 丨 十
Rule #4: 丿(piē) then (nà) 人
Rule #5: Outside then inside 月
Rule #6: Outside, inside, seal 国
Rule #7: Middle then sides 小
Rule #8: 丶(diǎn) is written first if it is on the top or left side 门
Rule #9: 丶 (diǎn) is written last if it is on the right side 犬
Rule #10: 丶 (diǎn) is written last if it is on the inside 瓦
Rule #11: Multiple 丶(diǎn) are written last, left to write 点 热
Rule #12: If the two sides are upper and right: outside then inside 勺 句
Rule #13: If the two sides are upper and left: outside then inside 庆 后
Rule #14: If the two sides are lower and left: inside then outside 进 过
Rule #15: If the gap is facing upwards: inside then outside 凶
Rule #16: If the gap is facing downwards: outside then inside 内
Rule #17: If the gap is facing right: top, inside, left side, bottom 区
Frequently Asked Questions:
In order to count strokes, you first need to learn what the strokes are and how to distinguish them. There are 8 basic strokes. The character for “forever” (永, yǒng) illustrates each of these basic strokes. Their Chinese names and pinyin pronunciations are listed next to each one.
Photo credit: thoughtco.com
The easiest Chinese character to write is the number one (一, yī). The next two numbers are fairly simple to learn as well. 2 is 二 (èr) and 3 is 三 (sān).
There are many complicated characters in Chinese, although they are rarely used. One of the most complicated characters is the traditional version of the (zhé )character meaning “verbose” or “scary” which is composed of 64 strokes! Writing that verbose of a character would be scary for sure.