So maybe let’s start here. How many Chinese characters are there? The largest Chinese dictionary (汉语辞典) lists out 23,000 unique Chinese characters. Another source, the great compendium of Chinese (汉语大字典) says there are 54,678 existing characters (however, this is how many characters there were throughout history, even though most are now considered ‘dead’ characters now). So how many words can these characters combine into? The largest Chinese dictionary says these characters can be combined into 370,000 unique Chinese words.

Now that is a lot. However, this dictionary is trying to encompass every word uttered or written in Chinese. It includes scientific terms, zoological definitions, highly technical words, and even loan words from other languages that are said in Chinese.

Realistically in modern Chinese, there are about 7,000 characters that are used.  These 7,000  characters can be combined into 106,230 Chinese words.