Learn Chinese word radical – Square

Grid for writing Chinese characters

Grid for writing Chinese characters

The Chinese character (fāng) means “square”. Like the English word “square”, it can be used and interpreted in a number of different ways. Today we will look at this word as it pertains to square shapes, locations and directions.

So, a square shape is called 方形 (fāngxíng) or 正方形 (zhèngfāngxíng). 长方形 (chángfāngxíng) is a rectangle.

Any square piece is called 方块 (fāngkuài). Chinese characters are often referred to as 方块字 (fāngkuàizì).

方格 (fānggě) is a square grid. When we were in elementary school, we practiced writing Chinese characters by filling pages and pages of square grids. The narrower space on the right side of each square is for adding the zhuyin notation.

方糖 (fāngtáng) are sugar cubes.

(fāng) also means directions. The commonly used word for direction or orientation is 方向 (fāngxiàng). 方位 (fāngwèi) means position or bearing.

东方 (dōngfāng) is the east direction or the East. 西方 (xīfāng) is the west direction or the West.

前方 (qiánfāng) means ahead or the front. 后方 (hòufāng) is the rear of something such as a building or an army.

四方 (sìfāng) are the four directions. It also means a shape with four right angles, i.e. a square or a rectangle. 四方 (sìfāng) and 八方 (bāfāng eight directions) are often used to refer to all sides or all directions. The number eight refers to the eight points of the compass.

方针 (fāngzhèn) is the pointer on the compass. This word refers to a policy or a guiding principle.

地方 (dìfang) means a place, a spot or a space.

zhè piān wénzhāng hái yǒu xǔduō kěyǐ gǎijìn de dìfang.
There is still plenty of room for improvement in this composition.

As flags are usually of a square or rectangular shape, it is not surprising that the word for flags, (qí), takes on the “square” radical.

(fáng) is a house or a room. It features a space under a roof.

(fáng) is to defend one’s turf or guard against someone or something. This word features the “ear” radical as well.

(fàng) is to place, to put or to release.

(páng) means side or on the side.

Tā bǎ nà fēng xìn fàng zài yī páng.
He set that letter on the side.

(zú) means clan, race, nationality or a group with common features.

(xuán) is to spin or revolve around something.

Dìqiú rào zhe tàiyáng xuánzhuǎn.
The earth revolves around the sun.

(fǎng) is to visit, to call on or to interview someone.

Tā jùjué jiēshòu fǎngwèn.
He refused to be interviewed.

(lǚ) is to travel. 旅客 (lǚkè) could be a passenger, a traveler or a hotel guest.

旅游 (lǚyóu) means touring.

If you are traveling to a Chinese-speaking country, you might find the cheat sheet in Chapter 32 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” helpful.

Locations in Chinese

Locations, locations, locations. When it comes to renting an apartment or purchasing a house, an important consideration is the location. Like Mencius’ mother, parents want to select a decent and safe neighborhood for their children. Also, homeowners believe that a nice neighborhood will help ensure a good resale price for their house. So it is that a tiny old 公寓 (gōngyù apartment) in a good area, or 好的地区 (hǎo de dìqū), could cost many times more than a brand new 房子 (fángzi house) elsewhere that comes complete with a double-garage and a large backyard.

Tā zhù zài chénglǐ.
He lives in town.

Wǒ xǐhuān zhù jiāowài.
I like to live in the suburbs.

Nǐ xǐhuān zhù nǎr?
Where would you like to live?.

Following are a few choices:

靠近超级市场 (kàojìn chāojíshìchǎng) close to the supermarket
在医院附近 (zài yīyuàn fùjìn) in the vicinity of the hospital
在公园旁边 (zài gōngyuán pángbiān) by the park
在学校对面 (zài xuéxiào duìmiàn) across the street from the school
在高楼大厦 (zài gāolóudàshà) in a high-rise building
在市区 (zài shìqū) in the urban district
在市中心 (zài shìzhōngxīn) down-town
高级住宅区 (gāojí zhùzháiqū) uptown district
在东区 (zài dōng qū) in the eastern sector
靠近海边 (kàojìn hǎibiān) by the ocean
在山坡上 (zài shānpō shàng) on the mountain side
在乡下 (zài xiāngxià) on the countryside
房价便宜的地方 (fáng jià piányi de dìfang) a place with inexpensive quarters
远离铁路的地方 (yuǎnlí tiělù de dìfang) a place far from the railroad
人口稀少的地方 (rénkǒu xīshǎo de dìfang) scarcely populated area
太平洋的小岛上 (tàipíngyáng de xiǎo dǎo shàng) on an island in the Pacific Ocean

Answers to the “where?” questions involve adverbs and adverbial phrases or clauses. Following are a couple additional examples:

Guǎngchǎng qiánmiàn yǒu yī zhū dà shù.
There is a large tree in front of the public square.

Lǎoshī zài hēibǎn shàngmiàn xiě le sān gè zì.
The teacher wrote three words on the blackboard.

Please review “17. When? Where? How?” in “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“.

To pinpoint the exact coordinates, or 坐标 (zuòbiāo), of where you are, you could make use of a 卫星定位系统 (wèixīng dìngwèi xìtǒng Geographic Positioning System, or GPS). Whereas clairvoyance, or 千里眼 (qiānlǐyǎn), was once monopolized by fictional characters, nowadays anyone could easily get a 3-D view of any place, even thousands of miles away, by making use of a software program like Google Maps(TM). It’s a small world indeed.

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