HSK Vocabulary Lists: Sample Characters and Words for Each Level
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.
- HSK 1 Vocab List
- HSK 2 Vocab List
- HSK 3 Vocab List
- HSK 4 Vocab List
- HSK 5 Vocab List
- HSK 6 Vocab List
- HSK 7-9 (New Levels)
- How to Study HSK Vocabulary
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.
|爱||ài||To love; to be fond of|
|的||de||Of; used before a noun to show possession|
|东西||dōng xi||Stuff, thing|
|多||duō||Many; much; a lot of|
|个||gè||Measurement word for people or objects in general|
|工作||gōng zuò||Job; work|
|会||huì||Can; possible; be able to;|
|开||kāi||To open; to start|
|看||kàn||To look at; to read|
|来||lái||To come; to arrive|
|了||le||Completed action marker|
|去||qù||To go; to go to (a place)|
|是||shì||To be; yes
See the full HSK 1 character list here.
- 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.
|帮助||bāng zhù||To help|
|别||bié||Do not; must not|
|出||chū||To go out|
|觉得||jué de||To think|
|开始||kāi shǐ||To start; to begin|
|可以||kě yǐ||Can; may; possible|
|便宜||pián yi||Cheap; inexpensive|
|上班||shàng bān||To go to work|
|生病||shēng bìng||To be sick|
|它||tā||It (inanimate object)|
|跳舞||tiào wǔ||To dance|
|为什么||wèi shén me||For what reason; why|
|问题||wèn tí||Question; problem; topic|
|要||yào||To want will; going to|
|知道||zhī dào||To know; to be aware of|
See the full HSK 2 character list here.
- 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.
|办法||bàn fǎ||Way or method of doing sth|
|唱歌||chàng gē||To sing|
|担心||dān xīn||To worry; to be anxious|
|发现||fā xiàn||To find out; to discover|
|感兴趣||gǎn xìng qù||To be interested in|
|还是||hái shì||Or; still|
|后来||hòu lái||Afterwards; later|
|回答||huí dá||To reply; the answer|
|记得||jì de||To remember|
|结束||jié shù||To finish; to end|
|老||lǎo||Old; venerable person|
|联系||liàn xí||To practice|
|明白||míng bai||To understand; to realize|
|难||nán||Difficult (to…); difficulty|
|奇怪||qí guài||Strange; weird|
|特别||tè bié||Especially; particular;|
|为了||wèi le||In order to|
|主要||zhǔ yào||Main; primary|
See the full HSK 3 character list here.
- 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.
|安排||ān pái||To plan; to arrange|
|抱歉||bào qiàn||Sorry; to regret|
|比如||bǐ rú||For example; for instance|
|不管||bù guǎn||No matter (what, how)|
|部分||bù fen||Part; section|
|长城||cháng chéng||The Great Wall|
|出现||chū xiàn||To appear; to arise; to emerge|
|错误||cuò wù||Mistake; error|
|当时||dāng shí||Then; at the time; while|
|短信||duǎn xìn||Text message|
|反对||fǎn duì||To disagree; to oppose|
|改变||gǎi biàn||To change|
|后悔||hòu huǐ||To regret|
|既然||jì rán||Since; this being the case|
|接受||jiē shòu||To accept; to receive|
|看法||kàn fǎ||Opinion; way of thinking|
|来不及||lái bu jí||There’s not time enough to do something|
|另外||lìng wài||In addition; additional|
|免费||miǎn fèi||Free (of charge)|
|目的||mù dì||Purpose; aim; goal|
|陪||péi||To accompany someone|
|其中||qí zhōng||Among; included in|
|情况||qíng kuàng||Circumstance; situation|
|然而||rán ér||However; yet; but|
|使用||shǐ yòng||To use; to employ|
|讨论||tǎo lùn||To talk over; to discuss|
|无聊||wú liáo||Boring; bored|
See the full HSK 4 character list here.
- 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.
|熬夜||áo yè||To stay up late|
|包括||bāo kuò||To include; to consist of|
|保持||bǎo chí||To keep; to maintain|
|吵架||chǎo jià||To quarrel|
|出席||chū xí||To attend; to participate|
|达到||dá dào||To reach; to achieve|
|贷款||dài kuǎn||A loan; to provide a loan (bank)|
|等于||děng yú||To be equal to|
|分手||fēn shǒu||To break up|
|风格||fēng gé||Style; manner|
|感受||gǎn shòu||To sense; an impression; an experience|
|各自||gè zì||Each; respective|
|过敏||guò mǐn||To be allergic; allergy|
|后果||hòu guǒ||Consequences; aftermath|
|基本||jī běn||Basic; fundamental; main
|记录||jì lù||To take notes|
|尽量||jìn liàng||As much as possible|
|据说||jù shuō||It is said that|
|可怕||kě pà||Awful; dreadful|
|理由||lǐ yóu||Reason; justification|
|梦想||mèng xiǎng||Dream; to dream of|
|难怪||nán guài||No wonder… (that)|
|平常||píng cháng||Ordinary; common|
|勤奋||qín fèn||Hardworking; diligent|
|日常||rì cháng||Daily; everyday|
|深刻||shēn kè||Profound; deep|
|思想||sī xiǎng||Thought; idea|
See the full HSK 5 character list here.
- 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.
|巴不得||bā bù dé||To be eager for; to long for|
|拜托||bài tuō||Request sb to do sth|
|本身||běn shēn||In itself; per se|
|别扭||biè niu||Awkward; difficult|
|尝试||cháng shì||To try; to attempt|
|创新||chuàng xīn||Innovation; bring forth new ideas|
|打包||dǎ bāo||To wrap; to pack; take to go (food)|
|大致||dà zhì||More or less; roughly|
|对付||duì fu||To handle; to deal with|
|而已||ér yǐ||That’s all; nothing more|
|反思||fǎn sī||To reflect on something; to think back|
|风光||fēng guāng||Scene; view; sight|
|雇佣||gù yōng||To employ; to hire|
|胡乱||hú luàn||Careless; reckless|
|即便||jí biàn||Even if; even though|
|杰出||jié chū||Outstanding; distinguished|
|惊讶||jīng yà||Amazed; astonished; surprised|
|开朗||kāi lǎng||Spacious, well-lit; open and clear (of a space)|
|课题||kè tí||Task; problem|
|联络||lián luò||To get in touch with; communicate|
|冒犯||mào fàn||To offend|
|迷人||mí rén||Fascinating; charming|
|敏锐||mǐn ruì||Keen; sharp; acute|
|难得||nán dé||Seldom; rare|
|譬如||pì rú||For example; for instance|
|时代||shì dài||Generation; era|
See the full HSK 6 character list here.
- 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)
- 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. These authentic videos come with interactive subtitles, letting you click on any word and add it to a personalized list.
Each flashcard is complete with a definition, some usage info, an example sentence and audio pronunciation. You can click on any word to discover more sentences, as well as native videos that show the term being used in various contexts.
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)!