"Rice"; "Food"; "Meal" in Chinese

Chopped Pork Meat Cooked with Red Chili Paste, Gochujang Sauce, over Rice
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饭 (or 飯 in traditional Chinese) is pronounced "fàn" in pinyin. This is the 618th most common character in Chinese and can mean "rice", "food" or "meal." The two latter meanings are the most common in modern Chinese.

Character Breakdown

饭 / 飯 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/飠(shí): food; to eat
  • 反 (fǎn): contrary; reverse

饣/飠(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 (m ǐ fàn): rice
  • 要饭 (yào fàn): to beg
  • 饭店 (fàn diàn): hotel (typically one that has a restaurant inside)

Sentence Examples Using Fàn

  • Qǐng gěi wǒ yīwǎn báifàn.
    请给我一碗白饭。(traditional Chinese)
    請給我一碗白飯。 (simplified Chinese)
    Please give me a bowl of white rice.
  • Nǐ kěyǐ mǎi yī jīn mǐfàn ma?
    你可以買一斤米飯嗎?
    你可以买一斤米饭吗?
  • Can you buy a pound of rice, please?
  • Wǒ è le! Qù chīfàn ba!
    我餓了!去吃飯吧!
    我饿了!去吃饭吧!
    I'm hungry! Let's go eat!
  • Nǐ mā zuò de fàn tài hào chīle
    你媽做的飯太好吃了
    你妈做的饭太好吃了
    Your mom's cooking so so good.
  • Nǐ xiǎng qù nǎ jiā fànguǎn?
    你想去哪家飯館?
    你想去哪家饭馆?
    Which restaurant do you want to go to?