HSK Vocabulary Lists: 180 Key Sample Characters and Words for Each Level [Updated for 2024 With Downloadable PDF]

If you’re planning to take the HSK, the key to success is knowing the right characters and words for your level.

The HSK or the 汉语水平考试 (hàn yǔ shuǐ píng kǎo shì) is the official Chinese proficiency test, and it has been taken millions of times all over the world.

Currently, it has six levels, with more levels under development.

Below, we’ve provided sample HSK vocabulary lists—pinyin and pronunciation all included.

We’ve also outlined the new test standards for each level for future reference.

Contents

HSK 1 Vocab List

Current Standards: 178 characters, 150 words

A student who passes the HSK 1 can use very simple words, phrases and everyday expressions.

The vocabulary you’ll need includes personal introductions and simple question words, as you’ll need to be able to answer very basic questions.

ChinesePinyinEnglish
àiTo love; to be fond of

cháTea

chīTo eat

Big

deOf; used before a noun to show possession
东西
dōng xiStuff, thing

dōuAll; both

duōMany; much; a lot of
高兴
gāo xìngHappy

Measurement word for people or objects in general
工作
gōng zuòJob; work

hǎoGood; well

And

hěnVery; quite

huìCan; possible; be able to;

jiāHome; family
今天
jīn tiānToday

kāiTo open; to start

kànTo look at; to read

láiTo come; to arrive
老师
lǎo shīTeacher

leCompleted action marker

maQuestion particle

mǎiTo buy

You (informal)
朋友
péng youFriend

To go; to go to (a place)

rénPerson
shìTo be; yes


I

See the full HSK 1 character list here.

New Standards:

  • Extra topics
  • 269 syllables, 300 characters, 500 words
  • 48 grammar points
  • Writing speed of 10 characters per minute (CPM)

HSK 2 Vocab List

Current Standards: 349 characters, 300 words

The current HSK 2 states that you should be able to exchange simple information.

At this level, you can recognize and use expressions related to your background and family information, your job, shopping, ordering food at a restaurant, immediate surroundings and so forth. You can also respond to questions in basic Chinese conversations.

ChinesePinyinEnglish
帮助 bāng zhùTo help
biéDo not; must not
chūTo go out
大家 dà jiāEveryone
dǒngTo understand
非常 fēi chángVery
gěiTo give
孩子 hái ziChild
háiStill; yet
教室 jiào shìClassroom
觉得 jué deTo think
开始 kāi shǐTo start; to begin
可以 kě yǐCan; may; possible
快乐 kuài lèHappy
màiTo sell
mángBusy
面条 miàn tiáoNoodles
nínYou (respectful)
便宜 pián yiCheap; inexpensive
上班 shàng bānTo go to work
生病 shēng bìngTo be sick
时间 shí jiānTime
手机 shǒu jīCellphone
It (inanimate object)
跳舞 tiào wǔTo dance
为什么 wèi shén meFor what reason; why
问题 wèn tíQuestion; problem; topic
yàoTo want will; going to
一起 yī qǐTogether
知道 zhī dàoTo know; to be aware of

See the full HSK 2 character list here.

New Standards:

  • Extra topics
  • 468 syllables, 600 characters, 1,272 words
  • 129 grammar points
  • Writing speed of 15 CPM

HSK 3 Vocab List

Current Standards: 623 characters, 600 words

Currently, HSK 3 standards state that you should be able to communicate at a basic level.

At this stage, you can recognize and form simple sentences and questions. You can also make basic comparisons and describe objects.

The topics covered in this level include travel, hobbies, the workplace and school. You can also talk about feelings, opinions and future plans.

ChinesePinyinEnglish
爱好 ài hàoHobby
办法 bàn fǎWay or method of doing sth
北京 běi jīngBeijing
变化 biàn huàChange
菜单 cài dānMenu
唱歌 chàng gēTo sing
聪明 cōng mingSmart
担心 dān xīnTo worry; to be anxious
地方 dì fangPlace
发现 fā xiànTo find out; to discover
方便 fāng biànConvenient
感兴趣 gǎn xìng qùTo be interested in
国家 guó jiāCountry
还是 hái shìOr; still
后来 hòu láiAfterwards; later
回答 huí dáTo reply; the answer
记得 jì deTo remember
jiàoTo teach
结束 jié shùTo finish; to end
可爱 kě àiCute
筷子 kuài ziChopsticks
lǎoOld; venerable person
联系 liàn xíTo practice
明白 míng baiTo understand; to realize
nánDifficult (to…); difficulty
奇怪 qí guàiStrange; weird
容易 róng yìEasy
特别 tè biéEspecially; particular;
为了 wèi leIn order to
主要 zhǔ yàoMain; primary

See the full HSK 3 character list here.

New Standards:

  • Extra topics
  • 608 syllables, 900 characters, 2,245 words
  • 210 grammar points
  • Writing speed of 20 CPM

HSK 4 Vocab List

Current Standards: 1,071 characters, 1,200 words

At this level, you can comfortably discuss a variety of topics, both abstract and concrete. With the given text and audio, you can also state the main argument and identify the advantages and disadvantages.

Overall, you have the ability to interact with native speakers in different settings with little to no strain.

ChinesePinyinEnglish
安排 ān páiTo plan; to arrange
抱歉 bào qiànSorry; to regret
比如 bǐ rúFor example; for instance
不管 bù guǎnNo matter (what, how)
部分 bù fenPart; section
长城 cháng chéngThe Great Wall
出现 chū xiànTo appear; to arise; to emerge
错误 cuò wùMistake; error
当时 dāng shíThen; at the time; while
地址 dì zhǐAddress
短信 duǎn xìnText message
反对 fǎn duìTo disagree; to oppose
改变 gǎi biànTo change
购物 gòu wùShopping
害羞 hài xiūShy
后悔 hòu huǐTo regret
既然 jì ránSince; this being the case
接受 jiē shòuTo accept; to receive
看法 kàn fǎOpinion; way of thinking
来不及 lái bu jíThere’s not time enough to do something
另外 lìng wàiIn addition; additional
免费 miǎn fèiFree (of charge)
目的 mù dìPurpose; aim; goal
péiTo accompany someone
其中 qí zhōngAmong; included in
情况 qíng kuàngCircumstance; situation
然而 rán érHowever; yet; but
使用 shǐ yòngTo use; to employ
讨论 tǎo lùnTo talk over; to discuss
无聊 wú liáoBoring; bored

See the full HSK 4 character list here.

New Standards:

  • 724 syllables, 1,200 characters, 3,245 words
  • 286 grammar points
  • Translation questions in speaking and writing portions

One of the biggest issues with the current HSK is the huge leap between levels 3 and 4, where learners immediately go from basic communication to fluent conversation.

Thankfully, the new HSK will be restructuring the intermediate levels. The remodeled will have a smoother transition between each level.

HSK 5 Vocab List

Current Standards: 1,709 characters, 2,500 words

Reaching this level means you understand Mandarin in a variety of settings, both formal and informal. Here, you also have the ability to read Chinese newspapers. This means you can read longer texts and understand main ideas and implicit meanings.

You also have little to no trouble expressing yourself and can write lengthy texts that are organized with transitions, conjunctions and other advanced grammar structures.

ChinesePinyinEnglish
熬夜 áo yèTo stay up late
包括 bāo kuòTo include; to consist of
保持 bǎo chíTo keep; to maintain
吵架 chǎo jiàTo quarrel
成人 chéng rénAdult
出席 chū xíTo attend; to participate
达到 dá dàoTo reach; to achieve
贷款 dài kuǎnA loan; to provide a loan (bank)
等于 děng yúTo be equal to
分手 fēn shǒuTo break up
风格 fēng géStyle; manner
感受 gǎn shòuTo sense; an impression; an experience
各自 gè zìEach; respective
过敏 guò mǐnTo be allergic; allergy
后果 hòu guǒConsequences; aftermath
基本 jī běnBasic; fundamental; main

记录 jì lùTo take notes
尽量 jìn liàngAs much as possible
据说 jù shuōIt is said that
可怕 kě pàAwful; dreadful
理由 lǐ yóuReason; justification
梦想 mèng xiǎngDream; to dream of
秘密 mì mìSecret
难怪 nán guàiNo wonder… (that)
平常 píng chángOrdinary; common
勤奋 qín fènHardworking; diligent
日常 rì chángDaily; everyday
深刻 shēn kèProfound; deep
思想 sī xiǎngThought; idea
特色 tè sèCharacteristic

See the full HSK 5 character list here.

New Standards:

  • 822 syllables, 1,500 characters, 4,316 words
  • 357 grammar points
  • Translation questions in the speaking and writing portions

HSK 6 Vocab List

Current Standards: 2,633 characters, 5,000 words

For the time being, HSK 6 is the highest level for advanced learners. The expectation here is that you’re fluent and can easily understand everything you hear and read. You can also summarize anything you read or hear, recall details and give explanations in a coherent matter.

All in all, if you pass this test, that means you can express yourself effectively in any given circumstance.

ChinesePinyinEnglish
巴不得 bā bù déTo be eager for; to long for
拜托 bài tuōRequest sb to do sth
本身 běn shēnIn itself; per se
别扭 biè niuAwkward; difficult
差别 chā biéDifference
尝试 cháng shìTo try; to attempt
创新 chuàng xīnInnovation; bring forth new ideas
打包 dǎ bāoTo wrap; to pack; take to go (food)
大致 dà zhìMore or less; roughly
对付 duì fuTo handle; to deal with
而已 ér yǐThat’s all; nothing more
反思 fǎn sīTo reflect on something; to think back
风光 fēng guāngScene; view; sight
改良 gǎi liángImprove
尴尬 gān gàAwkward
雇佣 gù yōngTo employ; to hire
胡乱 hú luànCareless; reckless
即便 jí biànEven if; even though
杰出 jié chūOutstanding; distinguished
惊讶 jīng yàAmazed; astonished; surprised
倔强 jué jiàngStubborn
开朗 kāi lǎngSpacious, well-lit; open and clear (of a space)
课题 kè tíTask; problem
联络 lián luòTo get in touch with; communicate
冒犯 mào fànTo offend
迷人 mí rénFascinating; charming
敏锐 mǐn ruìKeen; sharp; acute
难得 nán déSeldom; rare
譬如 pì rúFor example; for instance
时代 shì dàiGeneration; era

See the full HSK 6 character list here.

New Standards:

  • 908 syllables, 1,800 characters, 5,456 words
  • 424 grammar points
  • Translation questions in the speaking and writing portions

Originally the test for advanced learners who can effectively express themselves, the New HSK 6 will be remodeled as the final intermediate level to make it a natural progression to the advanced levels.

HSK 7-9 (New Levels)

New Standards:

  • 1,110 syllables, 3,000 characters, 11,092 words
  • 572 grammar points

These new advanced levels will truly test your Chinese proficiency and be ideal for those wanting to pursue a degree or career in Chinese. The translation portion of these levels will also be on a professional level.

HSK 7: Some of the proposed advanced topics include science and technology, sports, literature, major university courses, mental health, among others.

HSK 8: This level will take things up a notch, with texts and audios on possible subjects like linguistics, history, philosophy, politics and the news in general. It’ll be expected that you can have deeper conversations about slightly more complex issues.

HSK 9: This is where you’ll need to know how to communicate on the most complex of topics, like international affairs, trade, academic research, policies, etc. This last level will really test your ability to communicate in formal interactions, such as business meetings and academic settings.

How to Study HSK Vocabulary

Each HSK level has a different expected vocabulary size—the higher you go, the more vocabulary and characters you’ll have to know.

To study the vocabulary words for your level, one of the most effective study tactics would be to make flashcards. You can write out your own or take advantage of HSK prep apps, which offer more lists and SRS flashcards.

With the website and app FluentU, you have the option of studying through pre-made HSK decks or creating your own flashcards based on the program’s Chinese media clips.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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Additionally, we have a list of 60+ HSK resources, including sample tests and grammar references, to help you fully prepare for the exam. 

 

Taking the HSK test is a rite of passage for many Chinese learners. Good luck or 加油 (jiā yóu)!

And One More Thing...

If you want to continue learning Chinese with interactive and authentic Chinese content, then you'll love FluentU.

FluentU naturally eases you into learning Chinese language. Native Chinese content comes within reach, and you'll learn Chinese as it's spoken in real life.

FluentU has a wide range of contemporary videos—like dramas, TV shows, commercials and music videos.

FluentU brings these native Chinese videos within reach via interactive captions. You can tap on any word to instantly look it up. All words have carefully written definitions and examples that will help you understand how a word is used. Tap to add words you'd like to review to a vocab list.

FluentU's Learn Mode turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you're learning.

The best part is that FluentU always keeps track of your vocabulary. It customizes quizzes to focus on areas that need attention and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a 100% personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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