For example, suppose you are writing about the last five . presidents for a psychology class. If you wish to show that these presidents' public decisions spring directly from negative issues in their personal relationships, you might order your information from most private to more public actions to clearly establish this connection. Or, if you wish to give the reader the impression that he is moving into increasingly intimate knowledge of personal presidential foibles, you may choose the reverse, ordering your information from public to private.
However, the phonetic component is not always as meaningless as this example would suggest. Rebuses were sometimes chosen that were compatible semantically as well as phonetically. It was also often the case that the determinative merely constrained the meaning of a word which already had several. 菜 cài "vegetable" is a case in point. The determinative 艹 for plants was combined with 采 cǎi "harvest". However, 采 cǎi does not merely provide the pronunciation. In classical texts it was also used to mean "vegetable". That is, 采 underwent semantic extension from "harvest" to "vegetable", and the addition of 艹 merely specified that the latter meaning was to be understood.