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Chinese Lesson: The Character 饭
饭 (fàn) can mean "rice", "food" or "meal." The two latter meanings are the most common in modern Chinese.
Character Breakdown
饭  is a semantic-phonetic compound, which means that one part describes its meaning and the other part describes its pronunciation. The character is composed of two parts:
饣(shí): food; to eat
反 (fǎn): contrary; reverse
饣(shí), which means "food; to eat," is obviously related to the meaning of the word and is also the radical of this character.
反 means "contrary; reverse," and is not related to the meaning of the character. Instead, this character component carries information about how it's pronounced. Since this character was created a long time ago, things have changed, and the pronunciation is no longer identical. In fact, the tone is different. Still, if you know how to pronounce this component, remembering the pronunciation of the entire character becomes easier (and the other way around).
Common Words Using Fàn
Coupled with another character, 饭 can take on a different meaning. Here are a few examples:
吃饭 (chī fàn): to eat (in general, not "to eat rice")
早饭 (zǎo fàn): breakfast
午饭 (wǔ fàn): lunch
晚饭 (wǎn fàn): dinner
饭馆 (fàn guǎn): restaurant
米饭 (mǐ fàn): rice
要饭 (yào fàn): to beg
饭店 (fàn diàn): hotel (typically one that has a restaurant inside)
Sentence Examples Using Fàn
请给我一碗白饭。- qǐng gěi wǒ yīwǎn báifàn. = Please give me a bowl of white rice.
你可以买一斤米饭吗?- nǐ kěyǐ mǎi yī jīn mǐfàn ma? = Can you buy a pound of rice, please?
我饿了!去吃饭吧! - wǒ è le! Qù chīfàn ba! = I'm hungry! Let's go eat!
你妈做的饭太好吃了 - nǐ mā zuò de fàn tài hào chīle = Your mom's cooking so so good.
你想去哪家饭馆?- nǐ xiǎng qù nǎ jiā fànguǎn? = Which restaurant do you want to go to?
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