Sunday, March 17, 2013

The 'correct' (sic) way to count in Chinese

I'm sure you've all seen cartoons of people in prison or on dessert islands, counting the number of days that they have been there. Here is a Punch cartoon, showing the usual way this is done ... each of the first four counts gets a vertical line, and the fifth one is represented by crossing through those four.

I was told a couple of years ago about an equivalent method that Chinese people use, also counting to five, but instead it uses the Chinese character 正 (zhèng - which means 'correct' or 'proper').

You can see the stroke order for this character here:

Or if you prefer the animated version:

So yes, that's how (at least some of) the Chinese do it.  You can use it to count the number of days in a row you practise flashcards, how many times you phoned your mom this month, or anything else You want to count ...


  1. What a cute post, Greg! Next time I'm stuck on an island or in prison, I'll be sure to write 正 over & over again ;)

    Happy St. Patrick's Day!

    1. Next time your stuck on an island? Yeah, I hate it when it happens so often too :-)

    2. Typed too fast. I mean 'you're' not 'your'

  2. It happens too much when you live in a city, it's a shame :)