「家」字延伸學習 Chinese vocabulary study of 家

One of the first characters taught in the Basic Chinese 500 course is 家. This is a word that is very relatable to a child. As a noun, its basic meaning is home or family. It also means a specialist, such as a

  • 畫家 (painter)
  • 音樂家 (musician)
  • 科學家 (scientist)
  • 政治家 (politician)
  • 專家 (specialist), etc.

We have the saying “ 修身、齊家、治國、平天下 ” (from Confucius) which sets out the priorities in one’s journey of self cultivation and life achievement:

  1. Cultivate one’s moral character;
  2. Manage one’s household in an orderly manner;
  3. Rule the country well;
  4. Bring peace to the world.

家 being second in the sequence makes it of great importance to our life-long practice.

Below are some other words that contain 家.

Words within the Basic Chinese 500 course:

家用 housekeeping money
家長 parent(s)
家人 (one’s) family
家事 domestic affairs
家長會 parent-teacher association, parent-teacher meeting
人家 other people, someone else (he, she, they), I (me) (*this is a rather complicated expression)
住家 residence, household
一家 the whole family
全家 the whole family
行家 expert, connoisseur, veteran
出家 to become a monk or nun
到家 to become proficient, excellent
自家 own self
老家 place of origin
國家 a nation
東家 boss, landlord
成家 to get married and settle down
想家 homesick
大家 everyone

Words with characters beyond the Basic Chinese 500 course:

家庭 a family
家鄉 hometown
家俱 furniture
家務 housework
家族 family, clan
世家 aristocratic family
舉家 the whole family
管家 butler
私家 private
皇家 imperial household
持家 to manage a household
抄家 to search and confiscate all belongings of a household
贏家 the winner
敗家 to ruin all family fortune
儒家 Confucian thoughts
公家 civil

家 as a classifier (量詞)

The list above is by no means exhaustive, and it only includes words that are nouns. 家 is also a classifier. For example,

  • 一家戲院 (1 cinema)
  • 兩家人家 (2 families)
  • 三家餐廳 (3 restaurants)
  • 四家公司 (4 companies)

Being such a useful word, it is no wonder that it is taught in the very first book of Beginning Reader.


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