Hanja for Cimi: 是 to be 이다

When I first started learning Korean, I learned nouns.  I added a few memorized phrases. Verbs only came later.  Once you start delving into verb conjugation, it gets complicated. However, sentences need verbs 🙂

This post will introduce one verb “to be” with a few sample sentences.  You will see that it is easier in Chinese than in English or Korean.

The Chinese characters I have presented so far have been selected for being fairly simple, easy to remember, with the goal of building Korean vocabulary and practice writing hanja. However, with a few dozen nouns learned so far, it might be worthwhile for Cimi to learn some of the most frequently used Mandarin words and see simple sentences.

Of the 20 most frequent words, we have only learned 一 one and 人 person.


To learn Chinese, rather that just pick up a few random characters, use an application like Chinese Skill.  In just a few lessons, it covers the top 20 most frequent words plus sentences, pronunciation, and grammar.  However, if you just want to admire the beauty of the Chinese characters and pick up a new one each week, read my posts. 🙂  I find remembering the more complicated characters like 我 “I, me” to be hard.  I would have been scared off entirely from learning any Chinese if I had been presented at first with characters having so many strokes.

So with some trepidation, I will try to simply present one character 是 for the verb “to be”.

You may remember conjugating “to be” in English class.  It changes depending on the subject.


In Korean, the verb “to be” is one of the first one learns.  After you recover from the shock that verbs go at the end of a sentence, you reel over hearing that you have to conjugate based on politeness levels.  Talking to an elder, be super polite and end with -imnida. Talking to a peer, you add -yo for politeness when conjugating verbs.


To say “I am a student (학생)” in different politeness levels.

저는 학생입니다.   formal

학생이에요.  polite

학생이야.  casual

In Chinese, 是 is the verb “to be”.  “I am a student” is 我学生.  我 (I) (am) 学生 (student).  He is a student uses . They are students uses .  You were a student uses .  Are you students? 你们学生吗?Yes, we are 的。

So simple!

The structure is:

[noun] 是 [noun]


I will forgive the character for being a little more complex at 9 strokes, since it is so handy. Notice how it includes the radical for sun plus 5 more strokes.



Interested in reading more about Chinese grammar?  Try this article 10 Basic Chinese Grammar Points for Beginners.

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