One of the parameters for rating your knowkedge of any language is the amount of vocabulary that you master. Of course, this truism holds for Chinese, too. Except that in Chinese it’s pretty easy to quantify the amount of vocabulary you are supposed to know at any point during your learning process: basically, it’s proportional to the number of characters you master. Thus, if you want to better speak, read or write Chinese, you need to know more characters. Let’s quantify this!
In Chinese, words are the combination of one or more characters. At Nuli! Nuli! we have ranked simplified Chinese characters by order of increasing frequency. Using this scale, we can easily compute the maximum number of words that you may know given the number of characters you know. Say, you know 100 simplified Chinese characters; because you are a very thorough and dedicated student, you know all the words and expressions from the CEDICT Chinese dictionary that contain these 100 characters. How many words is that? The answer is on the curve below, somewhere in the bottom-left corner: