In Chinese, there are a great number of characters. But as a matter if fact, some characters are seldom used. Those that are widely used total around 5,000 to 8,000, and only or so characters are used in everyday life and cover 99.9 percent of characters appearing in books and newspapers. Among these some 3,000 characters, 950 are of the highest frequency of appearance, covering 90 percent of those printed in books and newspapers. If you have mastered these characters, you will be able to read Chinese. So 1,000 characters will be enough for a Chinese beginner. The mastery over which give you the key to open the door to Chinese characters.

Chinese Characters' Historical Background

Chinese characters have had a history for about 6000 years already.The development of the Chinese characters has experienced 6 phases:

1. Jia Gu Weng -- Inscriptions on bones of animals or tortoise shells of the Shang Dynasty (16 th -- 11th century B.C). They were used to record something of augury. Jia Gu Weng was discovered since 1899 in Anyan, Henan province first time. Since then, over 1000 Jia Gu Weng have been found. The font of Jia Gu Wen has been very completed at that times.

2. Jin Weng & Da Zhuan -- Jin Weng is inscriptions on Bronze in Zhou Dynasty (11th -- 256 B.C); Da Zhuan is big seal character in the same time. Both of them are very near Jia Gu Weng, but it is brief more than Jian Gu Weng.

3. Xiao Zhuan -- Lesser seal in Qin Dynasty (221 -- 207B. C.). It came from Da Zhuan and be standardized. It is a very important phase of Chinese character developing for it succeeded to the former characters and started be the base of the current characters Li  piShu, Kai Shu.

4. Li Shu – It was started from Qin Dynasty and be the official script in the Han Dynasty (206   B.C.- A.D. 220). Now it is used as one of the modern Chinese calligraphy.

5. Kai Shu – Regular script and be populated in Wei ( 220-265) and Jin Dynasty (265—316). It was developed from Li Shu and now it is one of the current standard Chinese fonts.