Why do Chinese characters look this way?

Eighty percent of Chinese characters are made up of building blocks that convey the meaning and pronunciation of the word being represented. These building blocks are called radicals. One radical, usually on the left side, conveys the meaning. Another radical, usually on the right, hints at the pronunciation.

Here are five components and a few characters they're used in. more details

How does the pronunciation work?

Commonly, Chinese words are written in the Latin alphabet using a system of accent marks. The most popular system is called Pinyin. The accent marks indicate what tone should be used when saying the word.

Some of the characters aren't showing up on my screen.

If that's the case, your web browser probably doesn't have international characters enabled. On Apple computers, you are most likely looking at the characters in the font Heiti. On a Windows computer, you are most likely looking at the characters in the font YaHei.

Mù means
"eye"

Hŭo means
"fire"

hŭo

Dāo means "knife"

dāo

广

Guăng means "shelter"

guăng

Hé means
"crops"

"shuì" means "to fall asleep." picture of a speaker icon

"dīng" means "to gaze at." speaker icon