"Radical plus" - learn to recognize Chinese characters the most effective way!


Our publication "Radical plus" has the objective of helping to learn Chinese characters in an optimized way: the concept is to group characters that share a part, whether it is a radical or another shape. As a matter of fact, the shapes that are not radicals influence the pronunciation of characters and therefore that helps very much memorizing them by groups.

1870 characters, i.e. up to level 5 of the new official HSK (hanyu shuiping kaoshi) will be learnt by visiting them gradually in about 650 families. About 200 families share a shape which is a “radicals” (a "bushou“, used for dictionary classification) with semantic effect; the others 450 or so are the ones sharing a phonetic effect.

Most characters will be visited more than once, since they belong to many families. For example, as also explained in wikipedia, mā, ”mother” ( in traditional format), the left part is the radical nǚ "female" while the right part, mǎ "horse", is a phonetic component. 5 characters in our family sharing share the phonetic ma.

Within each family, characters are classified first by HSK level 1 to 5 then by pronunciation (pinyin). They are however further followed by characters from a grand total of 3100 characters, with pinyin only (that includes HSK 6 level, and more). The reason is not only to support further studies but also to help study the HSK 1 to 5 and know from the very beginning how large or small this family is.

The detailed information of a character within the frame of HSK 1 to 5 includes:


  • its pronunciations (pinyin)

  • HSK level formatted as Œ to 

  • official dictionary radical (preceded by letter R)

  • the translated meaning

  • an example



Here is an overview of the levels:

(The additional 121 + 37 are marked with the symbol µ and follow HSK 1 to 5).

The visit of 650 families is organized in 10 chapters, each chapter focusing on a very broad shape (e.g. Λ  or ) . Some families reappear in other chapters (with referral to first appearance). For example, the family of characters with the shape is visited in Chapter 1- Λ where characters share “legs” or “roofs” (Λ) but also in Chapter 3 - where squares are visited.

The list of chapters is the following:

1 – Λ     2 -     3 -      4-      5- ǀ

6-     7- ─      8-     9-<     10-*

Within a chapter, a family is introduced with its number starting by letter F. It then has a number within the chapter of the from xx.yy, xx representing sub-chapters and yy the number of the family within the sub-chapter. Detailed links to other occurrences are listed.

The 1870 characters will be learnt gradually by visiting the 10 chapters many times, each time setting higher the HSK level and therefore learning more characters within each of the 650 families.

Here is an illustration: the family F17, where characters share a phonetical shape and where it can be seen that the character lún of HSK level 5 will be also visited in a radical family F599 of (numbered R159 in kangxi classification):

The appendixes are very useful to search characters


In appendix 3, the 1870 HSK 1 to 5 characters are sorted by pinyin alphabetically and theit HSK ranking appears, followed by the list of the families where they occur. It shows for example that 轮 belongs to family 17, but also to family 599 where all characters share the shape 车, a radical (R159, 较辆轻…):

In appendix 2, you can find all the occurrences of a family in the different chapters and the page address of the first appearance (which is more detailed than the reappearances):

Selection of Chapter 1 pages
Chapter 1.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [2.1 MB]
Adobe Acrobat document [3.5 MB]


The method, also available in French as well as soon in German, consists in about 300 A5 pages.


The book is offered for EUR 20 / USD 25 or equivalent outside of China (including delivery) or for LCY 150 (including delivery) within China .


Please contact sales@optisyst.com for order and payment.


LCY 150 (including transport)




USD 25 (including transport)

EUR 20 (including transport)


Orbet 66 B

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Email: info@optisyst.com


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OptiSyst’s curriculum follows established consulting and teaching activities in China. 

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