The Chinese character 可

And its phonetic component form

  1. to approve
  2. to permit
  3. can

可 is both a character and a phonetic character component

Everything you need to know about the Chinese character component 火 fire in an easily downloadable and sharable image

In addition to being a character on its own, is often used as a phonetic component in other Chinese characters.

When used as a component in a Chinese character, the phonetic component 可 brings its pronunciation “ke” to the words it’s in, or the words its in sound close to “ke”. In fact, as a rule of thumb, most words that contain  will either be pronounced “ke”, “ge” or “he”. Tones vary, however.

These characters all contain 可 and all sound like either “ke”, “ge” or “he”:

elder brother


what; how; why


Another possible pronunciations for the character component 可

The Chinese language is over 5000 years old, so, unsurprisingly, some characters’ pronunciations have evolved a little over time.

In addition to sometimes being pronounced “ge”, “ke” or “he”, 可 the phonetic component will also be found in Chinese words that have a totally different pronunciation.


You can find the character component 可 being pronounced “e”, “a” or “qi” in words like:

ē: flatter

ā: prefix used before monosyllabic names

qí: strange

You’ll also find the phonetic component 可 in many other Chinese characters. Browse the full list here.

All 80,000+ Chinese characters share the same character components. Chinese character components are therefore essential for Chinese learners: they are the building blocks of Chinese. Character character components help tremendously with understanding a character: they provide information on its meaning or on its pronunciation. In short, knowing character components will help you analyse, learn and remember each Chinese character much better.

Join us on Ninchanese as we teach you everything about the Chinese character components you need to know, little by little.

Related: Explore the key character components to know one by one, with this selection of meaning components and phonetic components.

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NinchaneseChinese Character Component 可 ke (phonetic)