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“How Many Letters in the Chinese Alphabet?”
“How Many Letters in the Chinese Alphabet?”

China has always been “larger than life” when it comes to numbers and quantities. After all, it has the largest population out of any other country. It is no wonder then, that its language has become just as extensive! But exactly how big is it?
The Chart of Generally Utilized Characters of Modern Chinese defines the existence of 7000 characters! If you think this number is high, you'll be shocked to hear that according to the Great Compendium of Chinese Characters or “Hanyu Da Zidian” (汉语大字典; Hànyǔ dà zìdiǎn), the number of existing characters is actually 54,678! But if you’re the kind of person that loves a challenge then there's the Dictionary of Chinese Variant Form (中华字海; Zhōnghuá zì hǎi). This work, also called the “Yìtǐzì zìdiǎn” (异体字字典), contains definitions for 106,230 Chinese characters!
But luckily, there’s no need to be scared. Another document called the Chart of Common Characters of Modern Chinese only includes 3500 characters -- that's half the amount included in the first chart. To make things easier, you probably won’t even need 1,000 of them, since they are considered less commonly used characters. If you learn Chinese and take the official Chinese language test called the Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì 汉语水平考试 (also known as the HSK), you will only need to show knowledge of 2,600 characters to pass the exam at the highest level.
To speak day to day Chinese you can cope quite comfortably with roughly 500-750 Chinese characters to your name.
2,000 Chinese characters , “the number you need to read a newspaper”
2,633 Chinese characters, “the number of characters you should know to pass the HSK 6 exam”
8,000 Chinese characters, “the number an educated Chinese person will know”
20,000 Chinese characters, “the number a modern day Chinese dictionary would use”
And if this is not enough, check out these interesting facts:
With 2,500 characters you can read 97.97 % of everyday written language.
With 3,500 characters you can read up to 99.48 %, which means pretty much everything!
It’s even more comforting to know that with only 900 characters, you can actually read 90% of a newspaper!
There’s definitely more to Chinese characters than meets the eye. Just imagine: knowing how to read and write Chinese gives you the ability to communicate with over 1.3 billion people! (Although the dialects and spoken language can vary from region to region, written language remains the same).
And regarding the so-called “difficulty” of memorizing over 3000 characters, just remember that like the Latin alphabet (which also contains several thousand “words”), Chinese characters have their own logic which simplifies memorizing to the rules and meanings of strokes made.