San Zi Jing Table of content – The Three-Character Classic

A textbook helpfull to start learning Classic Chinese. Tr. Giles (en) and Deverge (fr).


The San Zi Jing (Three Character Classic), written in the 13th century and attributed to Wang Yinglin (1223-1296), is not one of the traditional six Confucian classics, but rather is a distillation of the essentials of Confucian thought expressed in a way suitable for teaching young children. Until the latter part of this century, it served as a child's first bit of formal education at home. It is written in couplets of three characters (syllables) for easy memorization. One might call it a Confucian catechism.

George Yeo, then Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry, in an address at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, described the work thus: "For centuries, Chinese children, before they could read or write, were taught to recite the San Zi Jing through which the Confucianist idea of society being one big happy family is programmed into young minds. The three-character phrases are like strands of cultural DNA which are passed on from generation to generation." (Cf. Sanzijing at raptor.depauw.edu)


  • Original Chinese text found there.
  • English translation by Herbert Giles found here, with chinese text in simplified characters.
  • Traduction française de Michel Deverge sur cette page, avec son aimable autorisation.
Links / liens
歸藏 il me semble bien que Guicang et non Guizang.
baiyi77 – Sanzijing 20 – 2008/12/09
I think "Haun" should be "Hsun".
JD – Sanzijing 24 – 2008/12/02
I think "Chung Tzu" after "Lao Tzu" should be "Chuang Tzu".
JD – Sanzijing 24 – 2008/12/02
Please change typo "odes" to "does"
joeh – Sanzijing 18 – 2006/12/07
sur la première ligne ne devrait-on pas avoir 粱 au lieu de 梁
Anon. – Sanzijing 11 – 2006/12/05
The San Zi Jing as appeared in the link you provided
is actually a copy from

The person who put up the trimetric.htm page copied the text from Giles book by hand back in the late 1960s. He made several mistakes in his transcription which he could not decipher when he put his Web page a few years ago. The "side-notes" of the undecipherable text showed up as "distinct markers" whenever someone else reprints
the material from his site.
So far, all the reprints of the Giles version on the Web has been traced back to the same source.
Anon. – 2003/12/07
Chinese landscape on plate (56)

The Three–Character Classic – San Zi Jing – Chinese on/offFrançais/English
Alias Sanzi Jing, Sanzijing, The Trimetric Classic.

The Book of Odes, The Analects, Great Learning, Doctrine of the Mean, Three-characters book, The Book of Changes, The Way and its Power, 300 Tang Poems, The Art of War, Thirty-Six Strategies
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