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How Chinese characters were formed 4-compound from 人

Date: May 29, 2013 Author: Jing Wang Categories: Chinese characters


I am going to show you how to build some new Chinese words and phrases from the character 人 rén – person we have learnt already.

Hope you remember this is 人 person. We read it in pinyin: rén.








大 looks like a person with arms outstretched to show how big something is: “It is that big.”

This is 大 big. We read it in pinyin: dà.








Now, can you guess what this phrase could mean in Chinese with big + person?
大 + 人=?








大 (big) + 人 (person) = Adult

But in ancient China, 大人 is a suffix used for an official or a person in authority. You will hear this kind of use in films or TVs for stories happened in ancient times.

As an extended suffix use in modern China, when a husband calls his wife as 老婆大人 (wife big person)means “my majesty”.








A arms stretched out person standing in the field–above him is the sky. So the character 天 (tiān) means the top of the human race, a “most lofty” place – the sky.

In Taoism and Confucianism, 天 is often translated as “Heaven”.

For the ancient Chinese, the sky is the place they could watch but could not touch, so it is very mysterious. They called the ruler of the nature 天 (tiān) or 老天爷 ( lǎo tiān yé) (Lord Heaven). In many Chinese mythologies, the immortals are living in heaven; and the ancient Chinese emperors regarded themselves as 天子“tianzi” – the son of the heaven.

As the growing light of the sky brings in the dawn of the day, 天 also came to mean “day”.

This is 天 sky, heaven, day. We read it in Pinyin: tiān.








Now, let’s back to 人.  How about if we put three 人 together and get 众 ?

There’s a saying in China—”three people form a crowd”, which means three people are enough to be called “a crowd” .
人 + 人 + 人 = 众

This is 众 . It means a Crowd, Many.
Pinyin: zhòng








Another phrase we can build is by putting 大 and 众 together which is 大众. It means “a big crowd”, and also extends to mean “mass”.

You should be able to recognise this phrase 大众 from the cover of a book below.











To see what you will get if you copy 大众 and paste it on google. Most of them are about 大众 car.
You will get images of cars designed by Volkswagen if you click the images.

Yes, 大众汽车(a big crowd’s car) is Volkswagen in Chinese.
Apparently, the word volkswagen means “people’s car” in German. It makes sense. The biggest crowd in a country is the People.








Next,how about if we put two “人” together?
人 + 人 = 从

It does not mean two persons or a small group of person which has less ”人” than ”众”.

One person following the other. So “to follow” is the meaning of this character.

Screen Shot 2013-06-23 at 20.36.47








This is 从. It means ” to follow”.

Pinyin: cóng