Here are a few more simple characters that take 人 (rén person) as the root.
內 (nèi inside, internal)
肉 (ròu meat)
囚 (qiū imprison, prisoner)
兩 (liǎng two)
坐 (zuò sit)
夾 (jiá sandwiched between )
来 (lái come)
It makes sense to call one’s own wife 內人 (nèirén my wife), which, word for word, translates to “inside person”. The general term for “wife” is 妻子 (qīzi). So, 內人 (nèirén), 我的妻子 (wǒ de qīzi), and 我太太 (wǒ tàitai), all mean “my wife”. Some people refer to their wives as 我老婆 (wǒ lǎopo my old woman), which may reflect the speaker’s modesty but does not sound that great when translated to English.
Strictly speaking, some of the above characters contain the character 入 (rù enter) rather than 人 (rén person). With 入 (rù enter), the slanted stroke on the right side extends beyond the slanted stroke on the left side. The printed font exaggerates the difference between these two characters. In reality, 入 (rù enter) is simply the mirror image of 人 (rén person).
Add another 入 (rù) to the character 內 (nèi inside, internal), and you’ll get the word for “meat”,肉 (ròu).
Put a person inside a box, and you’ll get the word for confinement or imprisonment, 囚 (qiū).
You know that 二 (èr) means “two”. 兩 (liǎng two) is also used to indicate “two”. It appropriately contains a pair of the character 入 (rù).
Similarly, 坐 (zuò sit) contains a pair of the character 人 (rén person). It represents two people sitting on the ground. The character for the ground or soil is 土 (tǔ).
夾 (jiá sandwiched between ) contains a person sandwiched between two other persons. 夾子 (jiázi) is a small tweezer. When you use your chopsticks to pick up food, the action is represented by the word 夾 (jiá).
The traditional Chinese character for the word “come” contains a pair of 人 (rén). In the corresponding simplified character, 来 (lái come), the two 人 (rén) characters are reduced to a pair of tick marks.
来了 (lái le) can mean “to be coming” or “to have come”. Now, you can add one of the nouns you have learned, and form a sentence. For example, 爸爸来了 (bàba lái le).
While serving a meal to a friend, you could say:
来 (Lái)! 夾一塊肉吃 (Jiá yī kuài ròu chī).
Come! Help yourself to a piece of meat.
The umbrella is called: 伞(sǎn). Doesn’t this character resemble an umbrella? Please look in your dictionary or textbook for other characters that feature a人 (rén) at the top.
Many Chinese characters contain the the radical 人 (rén) on the left side. As we mentioned before, in this case, the radical takes on a squished shape to make room for the other parts of the character. You have learned that 你 (nĭ) means “you”. The word for “he” is 他 (tā). This word stands for “she” as well, although nowadays people often use 她 (tā she) instead to avoid the ambiguity.
When two people are together, kindness is called for; hence the word 仁 (rén), which means kindness or benevolence.
十 (shí) is the number ten. A popular hand gesture among the Chinese is to cross the index fingers to represent this character.
Add 十 (shí) to the radical 人 (rén), and you’ll get 什 (shí), which means “assorted” or “miscellaneous”. Understandably, if you get ten persons together, there would be an assortment of physical characteristics as well as personalities. 什么? (Shénme?) means “What?”. So, 什么人? (Shénme rén?) translates to “Who?”