zhèng: 正

It took me a long time to realize that one character often doesn’t stand for a single English word in Chinese. As I’ve learned more Mandarin I’ve come to discover that there are a lot of people walking around with nonsensical single-character tattoos. Context matters in characters.

With that said, why 正?

First, it’s a beautiful, blocky character. It’s a little foreign, a  little exotic. But it’s still accessible. You could draw it it you tried.

By itself you might translate it as “positive.” Coupled with a second character it implies realness and maybe a little urgency:

正在: right now. It’s going on right now.

六点正: it’s six o’clock right now.

正边:The front side of something.

Chinese speakers please weigh in. My Mandarin is terrible.

5 Responses to About

  1. Jello says:

    In Japanese 正しい means correct/just/right. By it’s self it means exact/precise/true. 正道 is the path of righteousness. And 正義 means justice.

    It is a pretty good character.

  2. Pazu says:

    Hi there,

    The character is very interesting because it’s 5 strokes and often used in counting in chinese context. Like how western cultures does 4 vertical strokes vertically and 1 across to count to five, chinese just writes 正. So you can imagine a wall full of 正正正正 in a prison cell. For example. 😀

  3. Neall says:

    As an English speaker, I like that the character forms the word “if.”

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