Chinese Character for "Left"

Learn How to Say and Write Left-handed in Chinese

Knowing the Chinese word for left can be very helpful when it comes to giving directions or pointing something out. Easily remember how to say and write left in Chinese with these few explanations.

Breaking Down the Character

The Chinese character for left is 左 (zuǒ). The character is composed of two elements: the radical 工 (gōng) and a stylized version of the character 手 (shǒu).

The character 工 means worker or work.

Pictographically, the word represents a carpenter's square. The character 手 means hand. Therefore, one can interpret 左 as a left hand holding a square. 

Compare this with 右 (yòu), which means right. Both of these characters contain a stylized symbol of the word for hand. But in the case of 右, the character's second element is the word for mouth, 口 (kǒu). Because it is common to eat with the right hand, the inclusion of 口 (kǒu) reminds us that the definition of 右 is right.

Mandarin Vocabulary With Zuǒ

Get a taste of how you can put the Chinese word for left to use with this chart of characters and phrases.

Traditional CharactersSimplified CharactersPinyinEnglish
左邊左边zuǒ biānleft (side)
左輪手槍左轮手枪zuǒ lún shǒu qiāngrevolver
左右左右zuǒ yòuabout; approximately; left and right; around
左面左面zuǒ miànleft side of something
左右勾拳左右勾拳zuǒ yòu gōu quánthe old one-two; a left and a right hook
向左向左xiàngzuǒfacing left
中左中左zhōngzuǒcenter-left
相左相左xiāngzuǒto be at right angles
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Your Citation
Su, Qiu Gui. "Chinese Character for "Left"." ThoughtCo, Mar. 16, 2017, thoughtco.com/left-zuo-chinese-character-profile-2278338. Su, Qiu Gui. (2017, March 16). Chinese Character for "Left". Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/left-zuo-chinese-character-profile-2278338 Su, Qiu Gui. "Chinese Character for "Left"." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/left-zuo-chinese-character-profile-2278338 (accessed November 21, 2017).