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 Characters Simplified Characters Pinyin English
左邊 左边 zuǒ biān left (side)
左輪手槍 左轮手枪 zuǒ lún shǒu qiāng revolver
左右 左右 zuǒ yòu about; approximately; left and right; around
左面 左面 zuǒ miàn left side of something
左右勾拳 左右勾拳 zuǒ yòu gōu quán the old one-two; a left and a right hook
向左 向左 xiàngzuǒ facing left
中左 中左 zhōngzuǒ center-left
相左 相左 xiāngzuǒ to be at right angles
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Your Citation
Su, Qiu Gui. "Chinese Character for "Left"." ThoughtCo, Jan. 29, 2020, Su, Qiu Gui. (2020, January 29). Chinese Character for "Left". Retrieved from Su, Qiu Gui. "Chinese Character for "Left"." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 26, 2023).