There are 31 different ‘strokes’ to learn when writing Chinese characters. A ‘stroke’ is a line or combination of lines that form a part of a Chinese character. Although at first glance, a character may look like it has 5 individual lines, in fact, may only have 4 strokes. This happens because a ‘stroke’, unlike a ‘line’, is made without removing the pen from the paper.
Since it is difficult to know just from looking at a character how many strokes (and which strokes) it takes to complete the character, you need to learn both the different stroke types and also how to write a character. Throughout this article, we have added step-by-step strokes for each stroke type and character we discuss.
You can use the Written Chinese Online Dictionary, to see stroke animations for both Simplified and Traditional characters.
For example, you can see the simplified stroke animations for ‘to recognize’ 认识 (rèn shi) and also the traditional stroke animations 認識 (rèn shi).
If you haven’t already learned the 8 most basic strokes that include 横 (héng), 竖 (shù), 撇 (piě), and 捺 (nà) I recommend learning those first. This article focuses on 12 more ‘advanced’ strokes, but you can learn the first 8 strokes in our previous article, Chinese Character Stroke Rules.
竖提 (shù tí)
The 竖提 (shù tí) stroke is a ‘vertical tick to the right’. The downward part of the stroke should be straight, immediately followed by a sharp tick. Press your pen down and lift up to create the ‘tick’.
Some good examples of the 竖提 (shù tí) stroke are the following:
长 (cháng / zhǎng) long / develop
增长 (zēng zhǎng) – to grow or increase
农 (nóng) – rural area
农民 (nóng mín) – farmer
竖弯 (shù wān)
The 竖弯 (shù wān) character is a vertical bend. The curve from the downward line to the right curve should be smooth and completed without removing the pen from the paper. The vertical line is almost always longer than the horizontal one.
Some good examples of the 竖弯 (shù wān) stroke are the following:
西 (xī) – west
东西 (dōng xi) – stuff/ things
酒 (jiǔ) – alcohol/wine
红酒 (hóng jiǔ) – red wine
撇折 (piě zhé)
When writing the 撇折 (piě zhé) stroke, begin on the right-hand side and write the downward part of the stroke. Lift the pen slightly when beginning the horizontal stroke. If one of the strokes is long, then the other must be shorter, and vice versa. The angle of the stroke should be less than 90 degrees but more than 45 degrees.
Some good examples of the 撇折 (piě zhé) stroke are the following:
东 (dōng) – east
东方 (dōng fāng) – the east
车 (chē) – car
火车 (huǒ chē) – train
发 (fā / fà) – develop
发生 (fā shēng) – to happen/ occur
撇点 (piě diǎn)
撇点 (piě diǎn) or left-slanting downward stroke is a more obtuse version of the 撇折 (piě zhé) stroke mentioned above. The stroke combines a down-left stroke with a long dot. When making the ‘dot’ stroke, press harder before lifting the pen up. Both strokes should be around the same length.
Some good examples of the 撇点 (piě diǎn) stroke are the following:
女 (nǚ) – female
女人 (nǚ rén) – woman
巡 (xún) – to patrol
巡逻 (xún luó) – to patrol
横撇 (héng piě)
横撇 (héng piě) is a straight horizontal line from left to right, followed by a downwards stroke to the left. The left downstroke should be a little longer than the horizontal line.
Some good examples of the 横撇 (héng piě) stroke are the following:
双 (shuāng) – two of
双手 (shuāng shǒu) two hands
对 (duì) – toward/correct
面对 (miàn duì) – to face
横钩 (héng gōu)
横钩 (héng gōu) is a horizontal hook that should be written quickly, with the final ‘hook’ being short and with the pen pressed harder into the paper.
Some good examples of the 横钩 (héng gōu) stroke are the following:
买 (mǎi) – buy
买卖 (mǎi mài) – buy and sell
安 (ān) – calm/quiet
安全 (ān quán) – safety
卧钩 (wògōu) or the ‘lying hook’, should be written as a slight arch from the upper left to the lower right and completed with a left hook.
Some good examples of the 卧钩 (wògōu) stroke can be seen in characters that contain the 心 (xīn) radical:
想 (xiǎng) – to think
想到 (xiǎng dào) to think of
忘 (wàng) – forget
忘记 (wàng jì) – to forget
斜钩 (xié gōu)
斜钩 (xié gōu) is the slanting hook stroke and should be longer than the lying hook 卧钩 (wògōu). Begin at the top left corner and end in the lower right. The bottom of the line should be slightly arched. Press the pen down slightly to add the hook.
Some good examples of the 斜钩 (xié gōu) stroke are the following:
我 (wǒ) – I / we
我的 (wǒ de) mine / my
钱 (qián) – money
金钱 (jīn qián) – money/currency
竖弯钩 shù wān gōu
竖弯钩 (shù wān gōu) is the vertically curved hook. The vertical stroke tends to be shorter than the horizontal one that follows. The stroke should be smooth with added pressure on the pen when adding the hook.
Some good examples of the 竖弯钩 (shù wān gōu) stroke are the following:
他 (tā) – he
其他 (qí tā) – other
也 (yě) – also
也不 (yě bù) – neither/nor
横折钩 (héng zhé gōu)
横折钩 (héng zhé gōu) is the horizontal right-angled hook. The horizontal line should be shorter than the vertical one. There should be a short pause when turning from the horizontal to vertical lines.
Some good examples of the 横折钩 (héng zhé gōu) stroke are the following:
月 (yuè) – month
月份 (yuè fèn) – month
用 (yòng) – to use
作用 (zuò yòng) – to act on
横折弯钩 (héng zhé wān gōu)
横折弯钩 (héng zhé wān gōu) or the horizontal right-angled curved hook. This stroke begins with a slightly slanted line from left to right, ending slightly higher on the right side. When making the turn return to the lower left and then make a circular right turn. Finally, lift the pen slightly before making the hook.
Some good examples of the 横折弯钩 (héng zhé wān gōu) stroke are the following:
几 (jī /jǐ)
茶几 (chá jī)
艺术 (yì shù)
横斜钩 (héng xié gōu)
横斜钩 (héng xié gōu) is known as the horizontal slanting hook. Begin on the left side and draw a line to the right. Instead of drawing the downward line straight-pull slightly to the right like the slanting hook stroke 斜钩 (xié gōu). Finally, add the hook in a horizontal motion.
Some good examples of the 横斜钩 (héng xié gōu) stroke are the following:
飞机 (fēi jī)
风筝 (fēng zhēng)
If you have any comments or questions about Chinese character strokes, please leave them below!