Skip main navigation

Chinese characters

Chinese characters: 天 月 上 下
0.7
Li Hui: OK, now let’s move on to Chinese characters.
8.4
Tiān. The character “Tiān” originally means “the top of one’s head”. It is used to refer to the sky or heaven that is above one’s head. Now, it also means “day”, such as in “zuótiān, jīntiān, míngtiān”.
32.3
“Yuè” as the character “rì”. This character is also derived from a picture of the moon. It means “the moon”. If you combine “rì” and “yuè” together, it becomes a new character “míng”. Both the sun and the moon give off light. So “míng” literally means “bright” or “light”. We have learned some pictographs, like “rén”, ideographic compounds, like “nǐ” and “hǎo”, and picto-phonetic compounds, like “jiào”. Now we will learn some ideographs, like “shàng”, “xià”.
84.4
Can you guess the meaning of the two characters, “shàng”and “xià”? “Shàng” means “above”. And “xià” means “below”. Shàng The upper stroke creates the meaning, above. The horizontal line represents the horizon. “Xià” is the opposite of “shàng”. Like “shàngwǔ, xiàwǔ”.
117.6
And “hǎi “ means “sea”. Can you guess the meaning of “Shàng hǎi”?
  • 天(tiān, sky;day):This character originally means the top of one’s head. It is used to refer to the sky or heaven that is above one’s head. Now, it also means “day”.
  • 月(yuè, moon):This character is derived from a picture of the moon.
  • 上(shàng, above):Originally, this character was composed of a short line and a longer horizontal line. The horizontal line of this character represents the horizon. The short line is above the horizontal line, which means something is above the horizon.
  • 下(xià, below):The opposite meaning of 上(shàng, above).
After learning this video, you can write these characters as their order in the worksheet to help you better understand what you have learned.
This article is from the free online

Learn Chinese: Introduction to Chinese Conversation

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education