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力 | Another Character that You Must Know!

Nov.27, 2019

Most "laowai" (foreigners) assume reading Chinese is practically impossible because we use "funny" characters instead of an alphabet, but with one fundamental trick we can show you how to master Chinese characters!

In this series of post, let me introduce you to both the world of our ancestors and to the secrets of a language that is shaping the world today.

Today, we're going to talk about "力", a very simple character and also used very commonly as a component in many complicated characters:

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The shape of 力 was from a type of farm tool. As it takes energy to do farm work, so later on, Chinese ancestors start to use this sign to symbolize the meaning of "energy, strength, force".

Now, let's take a look at some characters containing "力":男, 加, 动.

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1. 男 (nán) - male, man

男 contains "田" (top part) and "力" (bottom part):

"田tián" means "farmland"  → Where to Study Chinese in Shanghai

"力lì" means "energy" →   Best Place to Learn Chinese Online

In ancient times, it is usually the men's duty to do the tiring farm work and feed the whole family. So, the Chinese ancestors take "田farmland" and "力 energy" to symbolize "male/man".

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2. 加 (jiā) - add, plus

加 contains "力" (left part) and "口" (right part):

"力lì" means "energy" →   How to Learn Mandarin Online

"口kǒu" means "mouth"  → Learn to Speak Mandarin Online

The original meaning of "加" is to compliment. The "力" and "口" together indicate "Hard working will always get compliments"

"加" is more for meaning "add, plus" now.

But there's still connection that you can make to help you memorize this character:

If you want to add more food to eat, you definitely need to work with more energy!

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3. 动 (dòng) - to move

动 contains "云" (the left part) and "力" (the right part):

"云yún" means "cloud" →  How Much Does It Cost to Study in China

"力lì" means "energy, force"  → How Much Does It Cost to Study Medicine in China

"动" means "to move". In the character, the Chinese ancestor put the force "力" beside the cloud "云" to indicate moving (the cloud is moved by the force).

I hope from now on, you will always think of "动dòng" when you see the fast-moving clouds.

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That's the "力" story in Chinese characters! You got it? Isn't it a fun way to explore Chinese characters and culture?

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力 | Another Character that You Must Know!