REVEALED 🈶 The 100 Most Common Chinese Characters

100 Most Common Chinese Characters You Need To Know

There are various lists for the most common Chinese characters out there, making learning Chinese all that more difficult.

It’s hard to categorize the top 100 common Chinese characters when there are thousands to choose from.

Tens of thousands, in fact, but don’t worry, we’ve got all the answers here.

Do I need to know all the Chinese characters? No! You don’t need to know them all.


Learning a set of characters and breaking them down really helps to get the hang of learning Chinese characters.

Learn your first 10, then 50, then 100… 1,000… Once you’ve hit more than 1000 you’ll be able to speak pretty fluently.

Get to 3,000 and this is generally deemed the amount that most learners need to be able to read most things.

Chinese characters are made up of one, two, or several Chinese radicals.

LTL Beijing - Calligraphy

They have one of 5 tones and sometimes can have a different tone depending on the context or which character they’re next to.

They can even have a completely different pronunciation depending on their meaning, e.g. 行 can either be ‘xing = to go, OK’ or ‘hang = 银行 yinhang, bank’.

But, don’t fret! The more you learn, the easier it gets – we promise!

You will begin to see patterns within the characters, recognize the same ones that come up frequently and that join together to form a word, and to recognize certain radicals in order to decipher the meaning or the pronunciation.

The more you practice typing or writing Chinese characters, the easier you will learn.

To start you on your journey, we’ve put together 100 of some of the most common Chinese characters there are.

Most Common Chinese Characters || 1-10

Most Common Chinese Characters || 11-20

Most Common Chinese Characters || 21-30

Most Common Chinese Characters || 31-40

Most Common Chinese Characters || 41-50

Most Common Chinese Characters || 51-60

Most Common Chinese Characters || 61-70

Most Common Chinese Characters || 71-80

Most Common Chinese Characters || 81-90

Most Common Chinese Characters || 91-100

BONUS MATERIAL || Most Common Chinese Characters Quiz

BONUS #2 || Common Chinese Characters Poster

Most Common Chinese Characters || FAQs

Most Common Chinese Characters: 1-10

CharacterPinyinMeaning in English
degrammatical particle marking possession
shìto be
not, negative
leverb particle marking past tense, completed action, change in condition.
zàiat, located at
yǒuhave, there is

Most Common Chinese Characters: 11-20

CharacterPinyinMeaning in English
shàngabove, on, over/last, previous
general quantifier
dàoto, towards, until, arrive
shuōspeak, say
menpluralize nouns referring to people

Most Common Chinese Characters: 21-30

CharacterPinyinMeaning in English
wèiin order to, for the purpose of…
together, with
earth, ground, place
chūgo out, come out
dàoway, path, way
also, as well
shítime period, season
Most Common Chinese Characters

Most Common Chinese Characters: 31-40

CharacterPinyinMeaning in English
deto have to / adverbial particle
jiùjust, simply, right away
yàowant, will do, need, important
xiàbelow, under, down / next
because of, in order to / according to
shēnggive birth, life
huìcan, able, meet, party, society
from, self
zheverb particle marking a progressive aspect (e.g. -ing)

Most Common Chinese Characters: 41-50

CharacterPinyinMeaning in English
go, leave, depart
zhīsubordinator, go, leave for
guòpass, cross, exceed
jiāhome, family
xuéstudy, learn
duìcorrect, mutual, pair
~able, may, can
neighborhood, half kilometer

If you are still with us, we salute you… we’ve hit the half-way point. Time for the next 50, deep breath, let’s go!

The most common characters in Chinese from 50th-100th…

Most Common Chinese Characters: 51-60

CharacterPinyinMeaning in English
me/mointerrogative suffix
duōmany, much, more
tiānsky, heaven, god, day
érand, furthermore
néngcan, be able
ráncorrect, so, like that

Most Common Chinese Characters: 61-70

CharacterPinyinMeaning in English
méihaven’t, there isn’t, no
in, at, for, to, from, by, than
rise, start
háistill, yet
deliver, develop, expand
chéngaccomplish, succeed / to become
shìmatter, thing, event, accident
zhǐonly, just
zuòdo, make

Most Common Chinese Characters: 71-80

CharacterPinyinMeaning in English
dāngserve as, act as
xiǎngthink, feel, want
kànsee, look at
wénlanguage, literature
without, have not
zhǔlord, master, live

Most Common Chinese Characters: 81-90

CharacterPinyinMeaning in English
xínggo, OK
yòuagain, both… and…
like, as, as if
qiánin front, previous, first, former
běnbasis, origin, edition
jiànappear to be, meet with
tóuhead, top, first

Most Common Chinese Characters: 91-100

CharacterPinyinMeaning in English
miànface, surface
gōngpublic, official
stop, end
cóngfrom, through
chánglong, length

BONUS – Most Common Chinese Characters Quiz

Ready to put yourself to the test with our quick-fire quiz?

Welcome to the Common Chinese Characters quiz! Enter your First name and email to begin. Don't worry you can unsubscribe at any time!

First Name

Common Chinese Characters Poster

Two Chinese character posters for the price of one… aren’t we good to you…

Common Chinese Characters Posters

BONUS CONTENT | Interested in other languages too? Why not check out our list of 100 Korean words to learn, the 100 most common Japanese words and the most commonly used Vietnamese words too.

Most Common Chinese Characters || FAQs

What is the most common Chinese character?

The most common Chinese character is 的 (de) which actually has no meaning by itself but is a grammatical particle used in Chinese.

What are the top 10 most common Chinese characters?

The top 10 most common Chinese characters are (from first to tenth):

的 一 是 不 了 人 我 在 有 他

How many characters do I need to know to pass HSK1?

If you know 178 Chinese characters, you should be able to pass HSK 1, which is the most basic exam to define a foreigners capability in Mandarin.

How long does it take to learn the first 100 Chinese characters?

You could learn these characters, and their meanings pretty quickly if you study Chinese intensively. This is the key, if you have the time, and the drive and motivation, you can learn these in a few hours of Chinese class no problem.

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  • LTL Avatar Sabatino Antonini
    Sabatino Antonini , Student Advisor

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