Mnemonic comic for


yi̅ = y + Ø1: one / single / a (article) / as soon as / entire; whole; all; throughout / "one" radical in Chinese characters (Kangxi radical 1) / also pr. [yao1] for greater clarity when spelling out numbers digit by digit


Maud Younger (y) forgot her keys to the space station (Ø1), all she brought outside was her flute (一). She has no choice but to crash the door with the giant flute.


No one needs a mnemonic to remember that 一 is the Chinese character for "one". Neither for 二 and 三, which are, you guessed it, "two" and "three" respectively.

Why is this mnemonic helpful anyway? Because it helps us to learn more complicated characters later on. Knowing that 一 is a flute and 丿 is a banana helps us to distinguish 干 (dry; to do) and 千 (one thousand), or 天 (day; heaven) and 夭 (to die prematurely). This comic helps us to build a foundation for the house we're going to build. Feel free to scroll down to see how the flute, the mnemonic symbol for 一, is used in other characters.

The pinyin syllable "yi1" is, in our mnemonic system, split up into the initial "yi" and no final plus the first tone. The pinyin initial "yi" is represented by Maud Younger, the suffragist from more than one hundred years ago. The final "-1" tells us that the scene takes place in front of the space station.

Matthias, 8 months ago

Thank you zeimusu for uploading this SVG to!

Matthias, 8 months ago

一 character breakdown

The character 一 cannot be broken down into individual components.

Characters with 一 as component

Character component without intrinsic meaning

= + : Mnemonic symbol: ㇆ just looks like a plow.

Someone attached a flute to the top of a crowbar to create a new instrument. When the crowbar is bowed with a plow, the vibrations of the crowbar will transfer to the flute, which in turn is producing eerie sounds.
abbr. for 日本[Ri4 ben3], Japan
sun / day / date, day of the month

= + : Robinson Crusoe (r) is hiding from the sun (日) in an enclosure (囗) full of flutes (一) in the space station's bathroom (Ø4).
Character component without intrinsic meaning

𠂉 = 丿 + : Mnemonic symbol: 𠂉 looks like a key.

Imagine a banana you can't open without putting a key into each of the holes of a flute which is painted on its peel.
ten / 10

= + : Mnemonic symbol: a holy cross. Sherlock Holmes (sh-) is investigating a very strange thing he found in the kitchen of the space station (-2): A big pyramid made of ten (十) crosses (十), which are in turn made out of flutes (一) and dinosaur bones (丨).
year / CL:個|个[ge4]

= + + : Nefertiti (ni) is having lunch (午) in the anthill's kitchen (an2). Unfortunately they didn't have any cutlery left so she has to use a dinosaur bone (丨) and a flute (一) instead of fork and knife. It will take her a whole year (年) to finish her lunch this way.
grain / harvest (old) / variant of 年[nian2]
surname Nian
two / 2 / (Beijing dialect) stupid

= : Mnemonic symbol: a capacitor, because the two strokes remind me of the symbol in electrical drawings. Albert Einstein (Ø) is experimenting with a capacitor (二) in the space station's bathroom (Ø4). He finds that it's uncomfortable to discharge a capacitor using two flutes (一).
big; large; great / older (than another person) / eldest (as in 大姐[da4 jie3]) / greatly; freely; fully / (dialect) father / (dialect) uncle (father's brother)

= + : The big (大), huge (大) robot (mnemonic symbol for 大) is working out in the ashram's bathroom (a4). He's lifting a flute (一) to which Don Quixote (d) and Neanderthal man (人) are clinging.
see 大夫[dai4 fu5]

Words with 一

(used after a verb) give it a go / to do (sth for a bit to give it a try) / one time / once / in a while / all of a sudden / all at once
one by one / one after another
in a short while / all at once / all of a sudden
to have achieved nothing / to be a total failure / to get nowhere
thoroughly (idiom) / completely / one and all / very clean
to be a little bit careless / to have a moment of inattentiveness
generation / period of 30 years / one's whole lifetime / lifelong / age / era / times / the whole world / the First (of numbered European kings)
once the main problem is solved, all troubles are solved / death ends all one's troubles
variant of 一併|一并, to lump together / to treat along with all the others
a tiny bit / a wee bit
lit. either don't do it, or don't rest (idiom) / fig. if you do it at all, you may as well go the whole hog / in for a penny, in for a pound
jackals of the same tribe (idiom); fig. They are all just as bad as each other.
bijective map (i.e. map between sets in math. that is one-to-one and onto) / one-to-one correspondence
one China and one Taiwan (policy)
One-China principle, the official doctrine that Taiwan is a province of China
once is more than enough (idiom)
see 一之為甚|一之为甚[yi1 zhi1 wei2 shen4]
erhua variant of 一下[yi1 xia4]

Sentences with 一