Character Lesson 5 – 5 Fundamental Strokes & 26 Derivative Strokes

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5 Fundamental Strokes and 26 Derivative Strokes

We’ve already learn 11 basic Chinese strokes in the previous lessons. Today we’ll learn two new concepts: Fundamental Strokes and Derivative Strokes, which are made from simpler strokes putting together. In this video lesson we’ll learn all the strokes group by group, and understand how all Chinese strokes are made. We’ll practice writing these strokes and also see some example characters to help understand how strokes are put together to make characters.



  • Chinese Fundamental Strokes
  • Chinese Derivative Strokes


  1. What are the 5 Fundamental Strokes in this lesson?
  2. What are the 26 Derivative Strokes in this lesson?


5 Chinese Fundamental Strokes

The 5 Fundamental Strokes are 横, 竖, 撇, 点, 折. Horizontal, Vertical, Downward Left, Dot, and Bend.

We can also use the 5 Fundamental Strokes to help put the 26 Derivative Strokes into groups.


26 Chinese Derivative Strokes

The 26 Derivative Strokes can be put into 4 different groups, generally depending on which Fundamental Stroke they start with or end with.


Group 1: Horizontal 横 Héng

横折(héngzhé), 横折提(héngzhétí), 横折折(héngzhézhé), 横折折折(héngzhézhézhé), 横撇(héngpiě), 横折折折撇(héngzhézhézhépiě), 横折弯(héngzhéwān).

Example Characters: 口(kǒu), 计(jì), 凹(āo), 凸(tū), 水(shuǐ), 及(jí), 朵(duǒ).


Group 2: Vertical 竖 Shù

竖折(shùzhé), 竖弯(shùwān), 竖提(shùtí), 竖折折(shùzhézhé), 竖折折撇(shùzhézhépiě).

Example Characters: 山(shān), 四(sì), 长(cháng), 鼎(dǐng), 专(zhuān).


Group 3: Downward Left 撇 Piě

撇折(piězhé), 撇点(piědiǎn)

Example Characters: 么(me), 女(nǚ).


Group 4: Hook 钩 Gōu


Category (1): Start with 横, Horizontal:

横钩(hénggōu), 横折钩(héngzhégōu), 横折斜勾(héngzhéxiégōu), 横折弯钩(héngzhéwāngōu), and 横折撇弯钩(héngzhépiěwāngōu), 横折折折钩(héngzhézhézhégōu)

Example Characters: 买(mǎi), 刀(dāo), 飞(fēi), 几(jǐ), 那(nà), 奶(nǎi).


Category (2): Start with 竖, Vertical:

竖勾(shùgōu), 竖弯钩(shùwāngōu), 竖折折勾(shùzhézhégōu)

Example Characters: 你(nǐ), 儿(ér), 马(mǎ).


Category (3): Start with Other Strokes:

弯钩(wāngōu), 斜勾(xiégóu), and 卧勾(wògōu)

Example Characters: 家(jiā), 我(wǒ), 心(xīn)

Collapse Comments
Roxanne CuPremium Student January 16, 2021 at 12:11 am

Hi, Lili. I have a question. You mentioned that there are three (3) derivative strokes of dian (dot). The difference lies on the angle and the length. One derivate of dian (dot) as shown in the video looked like a na (downward right) to me. How do I distinguish between the said two strokes considering that both dian (dot) and na (downward right) have the same writing direction, which is top left to bottom/downward right?

ApplePremium Student February 7, 2021 at 1:21 am

Hi, Lili. I revisit these lessons and many things make much more sense after studying Chinese for a year with this online course being the best so far:).
However, sometimes it is confusing: 八 in above lesson is written with piě and diăn but in lesson 7 with piě and nà
Can you clarify please?
Thank you.

Sorry for the confusion.
There are different ways of defining what are the “basic strokes”.
In this course we try to put it like this:
The 11 Basic Strokes (They are “basic” because we start with them so that we can learn how to write some of the most simple characters): 


And the 5 Fundemental Strokes (which can be considered as the 5 Fundamental Stroke Shapes that all Derivative Strokes come from. 捺nà itself is an “independent stroke” that is derived from the same pencil motion that forms 点): 

横 (héng) Horizontal
竖 (shù) Vertical
点 (diǎn) Dot
撇 (piě) Downward Left
折 (zhé) Bend

Hopefully this would provide some clarification.

It is not technically a derivative stroke of 点. But in reality there are dozens of Chinese strokes and it would be easier if we could put them into 5 or 6 groups, where 点 can be considered to be the representative stroke of one group. Just like bends are not derivative strokes of THAT ONE BEND, or hooks are not derivative strokes of THAT ONE HOOK. We call them “derivative strokes” because we started with the basic strokes and then to all the rest, more complicated strokes.

Group three and four of the basic strokes aren’t available on YouTube. Also the fundamental and derivative strokes are not available.

Thanks for your interest! yes these lessons are part of our premium content. Please GO Premium to unlock these lessons.

Your this video series is very informative for beginners. Please upload it also on YouTube.

We will keep our YouTube channel active and post videos as scheduled. Please stay in tune. Full lessons and courses will be released on our website.

Why can’t you put them on YouTube….. Please put them cause it’s really necessary for beginners
Joining premium is really expensive for some people….. I am a 13 year old girl and I want to learn Chinese….. Please upload it on YouTube…..

Eryk NizińskiPremium Student November 13, 2021 at 3:55 am

Well Saba, as a 13 years old girl you should be already aware that not everything in life is free. Some people put a lot of effort to prepare these materials for us. The amount of knowledge I’m getting from this content is worth way more than the price of premium account 🙂

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