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27 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
*1. To know, to understand.
2. To know how to.
3. Knowledge.
1. To command; a command.
*2. Fate.
3. Lifespan.
In its simplest usage, this is added to a verb or verb phrase and indicates the person or thing carrying out the action:
知者: one who knows
怨者: one who resents
導者: one who leads
導人者: one who leads people
生耳者: one who grows ears
為禍者: one who creates disaster
不命者: one who does not command
bu4, bu2
To resent; resentment, grievance.

Characters with the heart radical are often verbs of emotion or thinking. 怨 usually describes bitterness, sadness, and anger that result from being treated unfairly.
Sky, heavens.

Note: Often used in a generalized sense for the Powers that Be
Oneself; self, ego.

Usually this character appears as the direct object of a verb (as in the text of this lesson) or as a possessive adjective (i.e., 不怨己命 “to not resent one’s own fate”). Do not confuse it with 247, 已 (“already”, “to end”)
*1. Person, people, human beings.
*2. Others, other people.
Disaster, misfortune, bad luck.

Note the compressed version of the radical on the left side. Characters with this radical frequently have something to do with religious ceremonies or phenomena with a supernatural agency.
*1. To be born, to arise from; to give birth to; to be alive; to raise; to grow; alive; life.
2. [polite suffix] Master, Mister.

Note that the subject of the verb can be the thing that produces, or the thing that is produced. For example: 人生, “A person is born.” 怨生禍, “Resentment gives birth to disaster.”
[A multipurpose preposition.]

This is one of the most common characters in classical; another character, 于, is often used interchangeably with it.
*1. To desire, to want, to want to; desires, wants.
2. To be about to (marker of future action).

Whether meaning 1 or 2 occurs in a specific case may be dependent on context: e.g., 欲知 could mean “to want to know” or “to be about to know”. Meaning 2 became increasingly common in the imperial period
*1. To get, to obtain; gain, profit.
2. To succeed in, to be able to [accompanies other verb].

Example of usage #2: 得生, “to succeed in being alive,” “to succeed in being born.” (Compare this to vernacular usage in English: “Did you get to go to the store yesterday?”)
Good fortune, prosperity.

Antonym: 禍
*1. Oneself; personally, naturally, spontaneously.
2. From (used to indicate movement away).

In meaning #1, 自 is sometimes used to put special emphasis on the subject. For example, 自知 usually means “to know [something] oneself.” Contrast this with 知己, “to know oneself” (although see also Lesson 14, 1a). Writers are sometimes rather vague about using 自 and 已; context should be your guide. Meaning #2 (usually translated in English as the preposition “from”) is actually a kind of coverb (see 1.5 for an explanation of this term).
To control, to prohibit, to restrain.
Sage, wise person, saint; sagely; wise.

In Confucianism, the word is applied to the very greatest men, Confucius especially. In Buddhism, it can refer to the Buddha, or to Bodhisattvas. In Christian usage, it means “holy.”
*1. With, by means of (coverb).
2. In order to (conjunction).

For more on this very common and troublesome character, see 1.5 and 1.6 below
Heart, mind, state of mind, attitude.

In Chinese culture, the heart is the source of both emotions and thinking
To lead.

This character could be interpreted as the verbal equivalent of 道, “road,” “path” – in other words, “to show [someone] the road”.
*1. Ear.
2. [sentence completion particle]: “and that is all”; “and that is the end of it.”

The second meaning is a “phonetic fusion” of the two characters 而已; both usages will be encountered later.
Eye; to look at, to glare at.
Little, petty insignificant; to consider small, to scorn.

The expression 小人 (found frequently in Confucian writing, but in other places as well) refers to a person with mean, egotistical instincts who only cares about himself and his own comforts
wei2, wei4
*1. To do, to make, to be, to become.
2. For the sake of, because of, on behalf of [see 4.2]
3. [Marks a passive sentence pattern]

This is one of the most common words in literary Chinese. Meanings 2 and 3 will be encountered and explained later, so don’t worry about them now!
*1. Good, excellent, virtuous; good [thing]; excellent [thing].
2. To be good or skilled at [something].

This character either refers to virtuous moral behavior or to talent and skill. Don’t confuse it with 喜
*1. To repay, to avenge; repayment, revenge.
2. Report; to report.

While generally referring to the idea of repayment, this can either imply reward for good things or forms of revenge or vengeance. It often refers to Heavenly justice
*1. Virtue, power.
2. Good deed; to do a good deed; to be grateful for a good deed.

Although in most literary Chinese texts this character refers to the modern sense of “virtue”, in early texts it sometimes implies inner (almost magical) power or charisma. Some scholars have argued that it is the power one possesses to make another obliged or grateful to oneself. One of the names of the Lăozĭ 老子 is Dàodéjīng 道德經, “the Classic of the Way and its Power.”