Single character word decks

Hey there!

Is there anyone who can recommend decks which have as many single character words as possible? So far I have found the following ones:

Remembering simplified Hanzi
Far East Chinese Characters
Chinese Characters Hoenig
Reading & Writing Chinese

They are up to 3000 characters max. But of course there do exist many more characters which are not covered in these. In case you know more of such decks, please let me know. Thanks!

There’s one list there that has 4000 words.

Thanks! Do you know how to integrate them into the latest Skritter app?

Just press study and they will pop up in the app I guess :face_with_monocle:

Does it have to be simplified? I went through all these: 台灣通用字彙 1-9:

The complete list covers 5568 characters that are separated into nine categories roughly matching the nine grades in compulsory education in Taiwan.

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Ideally it should be simplified. But I still cannot find that deck in the current Skritter app.

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Can’t find it either. @SkritterOlle where do we locate it? Seems like a great list to have.

I don’t know what’s going on here, but if you search for my username (for my main account, not the one I use here, so “Molndrake”), you should find it!

They can be found in this old thread.

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Is there a way to make those different decks accessible through the Skritter App?

Hi, currently user-published decks aren’t searchable in the mobile apps. We’re looking to add them back in in a future update, but also want to improve the rating system and approval pipeline before doing so.

In the meantime, users can still add and study user-published decks, this just needs to be done on the website for the time being. We even recently added a “share URL” button for lists on the website to make it a bit more convenient to, uh, share with other users.

I won’t defend our terrible search result quality though and apologize for that. It’s currently held hostage by a combination of some underlying historical data decisions around how deck searching works. While it’s on our radar as an important thing to improve, it is a larger project and other improvements have priority. But it’s something we’re looking to change in the future!

So far I’ve only studied words. In the long run, is it better to also study single character decks? I’m worried that I might get confused and not remember which single characters can be used as words and which can only be used as a part of word.


In general, for almost all students, it’s better to learn characters in at least the context of words. It does make sense to look at individual characters at some point, too, because it makes it easier to make sense of old and new words, which in turn makes them easier to learn and remember. But just do this when necessary, it doesn’t have to be the main way you study characters.

The only reason I use such decks (I study almost exclusively single characters) is that I use Skritter as a tool to remember how to write by hand, not a general vocabulary acquisition tool. I already know the words, I just want to remember how to write them by hand. This is not what a vast majority of people use Skritter for, so using single-character decks is usually not advisable. It could be useful if the characters you learn this way are all known to you as part of words already, i.e. below your current level, but learning new characters in isolation is not very good.


I partly agree with Olle but my advice would be, if you want to take you’re understanding of the language to an higher level you also should study single characters in addition to words. It give you a much better understanding how and why words are the way they are. That’s why a lot of Chinese household at least has one copy of the famous 新华字典. And when you see new words it is also much easier to guess they’re meaning. I have met al lot of students how only study words and have no clue of their relation to other words because of the lack of understanding of single characters.

By the way there is nothing wrong with getting confused when you’re studying, I think that’s what keeps us sharp and focused. :wink:
Of course you shouldn’t start with studying some rare characters but when you start with the first 1000 or 2000 most common characters, I believe that won’t hurt you at all. For instance you can look at or HanziCraft - Chinese Character Frequency List and start with the first 1000.


Does “most common characters” mean most commonly occurring in isolation as words, most commonly occurring in compounds as part of a word, or both?

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Hi Podster,

As I understand it these character lists are extracted from frequency data based on a combination of their occurrence in isolation and appearance in words.

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Yes, that’s correct. It’s notoriously difficult to count words in Chinese, as some kind of semi-manual process is needed to determine what a word is. There are word frequency lists, though, which also include single characters, of course. I looked into this thoroughly here:


@SkritterOlle really interesting and useful article, thank you!

I saw in your discussion of [國語辭典簡編本編輯資料字詞頻統計報告] that it contains “two million characters.”

2 million? Surely that means the length of the resource, not the actual number of characters in the Chinese language?

According to a BBC source, there are about 50,000 characters total (康熙字典), 20,000 in most dictionaries, 8000 known by an educated person, and about 3000 needed for a newspaper reader. I found the 50k number amazing enough, and I’m assuming it includes characters no longer used in modern Chinese, including mythical creatures and old botanical terms.

Very useful resources, and I particularly liked the one for components, as it is Skritter that first enabled me to use this method for “relearning” my Chinese, instead of traditional classroom methods.

For myself, I break components down as far as they go or much less, depending on whatever combo is most useful for creating a particular mnemonic, which also depends on how familiar I am with the meaning of the actual character used in the component. Some of them are really rare (I study both simplified and traditional.) Your resources will be very helpful in this.

You wonder why one resource breaks things down by stroke numbers. I found that hilarious - in a painful way.

I can tell you from experience that that was pretty much the only way to use a dictionary pre-phone app dictionaries. Even if you knew the radical, characters were ordered within the dictionary partly by their radicals but mostly by the number of strokes it took to write them. I still have a handful of physical dictionaries that are organised this way.

In fact, that’s how we memorised characters, by mentally counting their strokes while writing them.

It was Skritter that first introduced me to mnemonics instead - much preferable!

2 million? Surely that means the length of the resource, not the actual number of characters in the Chinese language?

Yes, frequency lists typically state how large a corpus the frequency data is based on.

Thanks for your comments, Olle and Roberto! I wasn’t planing on learning random single characters, just the characters I’ve already learned as part of some word.

I’ve gone through the words in HSK1-4 and I just created a sigle character deck for them. I think that learning the meaning of single characters would be very beneficial in the long run. It’s just a question of finding the best learning method for me… :thinking:

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