日 ri SUN 旦 dan DAWN 正 zheng UPRIGHT 是 shi IS

You are 是 standing upright 正 under the SHIning sun 日 at dawn 旦 and it’s a really hot day. This then is SHI是 and it means: to be. Shi’s character is a symbol: it’s a picture of the sun at dawn on top of a picture of a foot. Chinese characters are highly stylized standardized and simplified pictures. The idea of this shi is a person standing upright underneath the dawning sun. Chinese verbs don’t conjugate. That means i SHI you SHI we SHI – it’s always shi! Chinese has the simplest grammar. Verbs don’t have to agree in number or gender because Chinese doesn’t have gender or plurals really or conjugations. Let’s be egoists. Wo is Chinese for I. You can remember it with the word ego, which sounds similar I guess if you slur the g softly like – aygho – wo. Chinese wo also rhymes with Spanish yo, which also means I. So “Wo Shi”. I am! You are: ni shi. We are women shi. Can you guess what adding -men to wo does? Yes, it makes the plural, but Chinese plural only exists for people, not things. So nimen is you plural. Ta means he, but since Chinese has no gender it also means she. Can you guess what tamen means? Yep! It means them. And just like that you learned all the conjugations of to be in Chinese whether in the past present or future! Singuler: Wo shi. Ni shi. Ta shi. Plural: Women shi. Nimen shi. Tamen shi. You also learned four characters:

日 ri SUN
旦 dan DAWN
正 zheng UPRIGHT
是 shi IS