Languages › Mandarin Meaning and Usage of the Chinese Character for "Harmony" Share Flipboard Email Print Paul Kretek / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 Mandarin Vocabulary Mandarin History and Culture Pronunciation Understanding Chinese Characters By Olle Linge Chinese Language Expert M.A., Teaching Chinese as a Second Language, National Taiwan Normal University M.A., Education (Chinese and English), Linkoping University B.A., Chinese Language and Literature, Lund University Olle Linge is a writer and educator who holds an M.A. in Chinese as a Second Language. He's also the creator of Hacking Chinese, an online resource for Chinese language learners. our editorial process Olle Linge Updated January 02, 2020 Most characters in Chinese only have one common reading, but the character we're going to look at in this article has many different pronunciations, although some of them aren't common. The character in question is 和, which has the basic meaning of "harmony" or "together" and is pronounced "hé" as in 和平 (hépíng) "peace". The character consists of two parts: 禾, which gives the character its pronunciation (it's also pronounced "hé" and is a pictograph of standing grain) and the character 口 (kǒu), which means "mouth". If you're not sure how different character components can influence the pronunciation of a Chinese character, you should read this article: Chinese character type: Semantic-phonetic compounds. 和 (hé or hàn) Means "and" It's a common character (23rd on Zein's list) and appears in most beginner textbooks as the first and most basic way of expressing "and": 你和我nǐ hé wǒYou and me. Note that this is usually used to join nouns together in a sentence, and can't be used to translate sentences like "He opened the door and went in"! Also note that the 和 used here is sometimes pronounced "hàn" in Taiwan, although "hé" is also common. Other Meanings of 和 (hé) There are numerous other meanings of the character 和 with the pronunciation "hé", and here are some of the most common words: 和尚 (héshàng) "Buddhist monk" 和平 (hépíng) "peace" 和谐 (héxié) "harmony, harmonious" 平和 (pínghé) "placid, gentle" This is a clear example of when understanding the individual characters makes learning the words a lot easier. It shouldn't be too hard to fit the basic meaning of 和 into the meaning of these words! Additional Meanings with Other Pronunciations As mentioned in the introduction, the character 和 has numerous pronunciations in addition to the fact that it's sometimes read differently in Taiwan. Let's look at two other common meanings of this word with different pronunciations: 暖和 (nuǎnhuo) "(pleasantly) warm" - This word is the normal way of expressing that something (e.g. the weather) is pleasantly warm and there are no other common cases where the character is read "huo", so instead of bothering about that, just learn this word in its entirety. Example: 今天天气很暖和 (jīntiān tiānqi hěn nuǎnhuo) "The weather is nice/pleasant/warm today."和了 (húle) "(used when completing a set in mahjong)" - This is an unusual reading unless you play mahjong (actually "májiàng" in proper Pinyin) a lot. Since this game is extremely popular in Chinese-speaking societies all over the world, I would still treat this as a common word. You say or shout it when you have combined all your tiles into sets to announce that you have won the game.