This common building block character originally represented a tree (obviously!) with both branches and roots. In the modern form of the character that you see here, the roots look just like low-hanging branches, so feel free to remember them this way! As a building block, 木 is featured in a lot of compounds. Typically, if you see 木, you know you’re reading something about nature or wood!
口 is one of the first Chinese characters a student will learn. Not only is it extremely easy to write and remember, it’s a very common building block; learning 口 early is a great investment for any student of Chinese! One thing to remember when using this building block is that there is a nearly identical character that means “surround”. 口 (surround: wei2) is typically larger than 口 (mouth) and can’t be used by itself.
日 The current version of this ancient building block is quite interesting. It looks just like a window, which is quite handy for us learning Chinese, but why doesn’t this character look like a sun? I mean, it’s not especially hard to draw a sun, right? Well, it used to look a lot more like that burning star in the sky, but the Chinese language has been evolving for thousands of years and most characters have changed a lot. It’s just like “old English”, “middle English”, and “modern English”.
The building block 門 originally represented a gate in ancient Chinese writing. The modern form of the character looks an awful lot like a pair of saloon doors from the Wild West! At least that’s how I remember it. Because 門 is such a common building block, you should definitely spend some quality time to practice writing it. The simplified form of the character is 门.
This compound fills a special role in Chinese grammar; it indicates when something is plural. For example, in the phrase 我們 (wo3 men), 我 means “I” and 們 makes the phrase plural, so we get a definition of “we”. Compounds like this will quickly become your friend because they allow you to make many phrases without the need to memorize complex rules like we have in English! The simplified form of the character is 们.
The traditional Chinese calendar is based on the lunar cycle, so the character 月 can translate to both “moon” and “month”. Even though the gregorian calendar used in the West is the standard for most governments and businesses around the world, the dates of many Asian holidays and festivals are still determined by the traditional calendar.