Used for the official language of the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, and Singapore. Chinese is a group of related but in many cases mutually unintelligible language varieties, forming a branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the Han majority and many other ethnic groups in China. Nearly 1.2 billion people (around 16% of the world's population) speak some form of Chinese as their first language.The varieties of Chinese are usually described by native speakers as dialects of a single Chinese language, but linguists note that they are as diverse as a language family. The internal diversity of Chinese has been likened to that of the Romance languages, but may be even more varied. There are between 7 and 13 main regional groups of Chinese (depending on classification scheme), of which the most spoken, by far, is Mandarin (about 960 million), followed by Wu (80 million), Yue (70 million) and Min (70 million). Most of these groups are mutually unintelligible, although some, like Xiang and the Southwest Mandarin dialects, may share common terms and some degree of intelligibility. All varieties of Chinese are tonal and analytic. Standard Chinese (Putonghua/Guoyu/Huayu) is a standardized form of spoken Chinese based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin. It is the official language of China and Taiwan, as well as one of four official languages of Singapore. It is one of thesix official languages of the United Nations. The written form of the standard language, based on thelogograms known as Chinese characters , is shared by literate speakers of otherwise unintelligible dialects. Of the other varieties of Chinese, Cantonese (the prestige variety of Yue) is influential in Guangdong province and in Hong Kong and Macau, and is widely spoken among overseas communities. Min Nan, part of the Min group, is widely spoken in southern Fujian, in neighbouring Taiwan (where it is known as Taiwanese or Hoklo) and in Southeast Asia (also known asHokkien in the Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia). There are also sizeable Hakka and Shanghainese diasporas, for example in Taiwan, where most Hakka communities are also conversant in Taiwanese and Standard Chinese.


Chinese can be traced back over 3,000 years to the first written records, and even earlier to a hypothetical Sino-Tibetanproto-language. The language has evolved over time, with various local varieties becoming mutually unintelligible. In reaction, central governments have repeatedly sought to promulgate a unified standard.

Chinese characters

Each Chinese character represents a monosyllabic Chinese word or morpheme. In 100 CE, the famed Han dynasty scholar XuShenclassified characters into six categories, namely pictographs, simple ideographs, compound ideographs, phonetic loans, phonetic compounds and derivative characters. Almost all characters created since have been of this type. The 18th-century Kangxi Dictionary recognized 214 radicals. Modern characters are styled after the regular script. Various other written styles are also used in Chinese calligraphy, including seal script, cursive script and clerical script. Calligraphy artists can write in traditional and simplified characters, but they tend to use traditional characters for traditional art. There are currently two systems for Chinese characters. The traditional system, still used in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau and Chinese speaking communities (except Singapore and Malaysia) outside mainland China, takes its form from standardized character forms dating back to the late Han dynasty. The Simplified Chinese character system, introduced by the People's Republic of China in 1954 to promote mass literacy, simplifies most complex traditional glyphs to fewer strokes, many to common cursive shorthand variants. Singapore, which has a large Chinese community, is the first—and at present the only—foreign nation to officially adopt simplified characters, although it has also become the de facto standard for younger ethnic Chinese in Malaysia. The Internet provides the platform to practice reading the alternative system, be it traditional or simplified. A well-educated Chinese reader today recognizes approximately 4,000–6,000 characters; approximately 3,000 characters are required to read a Mainland newspaper. The PRC government defines literacy amongst workers as a knowledge of 2,000 characters, though this would be only functional literacy. A large unabridged dictionary, like the Kangxi Dictionary, contains over 40,000 characters, including obscure, variant, rare, and archaic characters; fewer than a quarter of these characters are now commonly used.

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English lets you feel the culture of the world like no other language. With a good knowledge of the English language, you can do wonderful things: Watch American and British films in the original. Once you try it, you’ll never go back to dubbed versions! Read great books. Every famous book was written in English or it was translated into English. There is an amazing number of titles — from classic plays like Hamlet to modern thrillers like Jurassic Park. Enjoy English-language music more. Enjoy English-language music more. Believe us: music is much better if you can understand the words.

Grammar and morphology

Chinese is often described as a "monosyllabic" language. However, this is only partially correct. It is largely accurate when describing Classical Chinese and Middle Chinese; in Classical Chinese, for example, perhaps 90% of words correspond to a single syllable and a single character. In the modern varieties, it is still usually the case that a morpheme(unit of meaning) is a single syllable; contrast English, with plenty of multi-syllable morphemes, both bound and free, such as "seven", "elephant", "para-" and "-able". Some of the conservative southern varieties of modern Chinese still have largely monosyllabic words, especially among the more basic vocabulary. In modern Mandarin, however, most nouns, adjectives and verbs are largely disyllabic. A significant cause of this is phonological attrition. Sound change over time has steadily reduced the number of possible syllables. In modern Mandarin, there are now only about 1,200 possible syllables, including tonal distinctions, compared with about 5,000 in Vietnamese (still largely monosyllabic) and over 8,000 in English. Chinese morphology is strictly bound to a set number of syllables with a fairly rigid construction which are the morphemes, the smallest blocks of the language. While many of these single-syllable morphemes can stand alone as individual words, they more often than not form multi-syllabic compounds, which more closely resembles the traditional Western notion of a word. A Chinese “word” can consist of more than one character-morpheme, usually two, but there can be three or more. All varieties of modern Chinese are analytic languages, in that they depend on syntax (word order and sentence structure) rather than morphology—i.e., changes in form of a word—to indicate the word's function in a sentence. In other words, Chinese has very few grammatical inflections—it possesses no tenses, no voices, no numbers (singular, plural; though there are plural markers, for example for personal pronouns), and only a few articles (i.e., equivalents to "the, a, an" in English) They make heavy use of grammatical particles to indicate aspect and mood Chinese features a subject–verb–object word order, and like many other languages in East Asia, makes frequent use of the topic–comment construction to form sentences. Chinese also has an extensive system of classifiers and measure words, another trait shared with neighbouring languages like Japanese and Korean. Other notable grammatical features common to all the spoken varieties of Chinese include the use of serial verb construction, pronoun dropping and the related subject dropping. Although the grammars of the spoken varieties share many traits, they do possess differences.


The entire Chinese character corpus since antiquity comprises well over 20,000 characters, of which only roughly 10,000 are now commonly in use. However Chinese characters should not be confused with Chinese words. Because most Chinese words are made up of two or more characters, there are many times more Chinese words than there are characters.


With the growing importance and influence of China's economy globally, Mandarin instruction is gaining popularity in schools in the USA, and has become an increasingly popular subject of study amongst the young in the Western world, as in the UK. In 1991 there were 2,000 foreign learners taking China's official Chinese Proficiency Test (comparable to the EnglishCambridge Certificate), while in 2005, the number of candidates had risen sharply to 117,660. By 2010, 750,000 people had taken the Chinese Proficiency Test.

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