Astrologers divide the Zodiac signs into groupings that link signs together by specific characteristics, which makes it easier to learn the signs.

The four elements associated with the signs of the Zodiac break the signs down into the basic groupings of Fire, Earth, Air and Water. The natural world fits into these four classifications, whose basic characteristics -- the heat of fire, the stability of earth, the changeability of air and the fluidity of water -- can be applied to human nature.

People with a lot of Fire in their charts (meaning, several planets in the Fire Signs of Aries, Leo or Sagittarius) tend to be hotheaded and warmhearted, for example, while people with lots of Earth such as Taurus, Virgo or Capricorn are usually practical and down-to-earth.

The Air Signs of Gemini, Libra or Aquarius are cerebral and expressive while the Water Signs of Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces are emotional, intuitive and sometimes hard to fathom.

Besides the four elements, there are three qualities that influence the signs -- Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable. These qualities speak to a person’s general attitude and the way they tackle a project.

The Cardinal Signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn. These folks are self-starters who naturally gravitate toward leadership roles, as they have the drive and initiative needed to get a project off the ground. But they can lack follow-through, and that’s where

Fixed Signs of Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius come in. These people have the persistence and determination to see a project through to the end, but they can be rather stubborn and resistant to deviation from the plan.

Mutable Signs Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces on the other hand, are happy to be flexible. Though they can be wishy-washy as a result, they’re the adapters of the Zodiac, the people who can follow a Cardinal Sign’s lead and throw in their weight behind a hardworking Fixed Sign.

Phrases like 'the winds of change' can tell you a lot about the element of Air, which is associated with the Zodiac signs of Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. Air lends these signs a lighthearted, mercurial quality -- especially Gemini, which is known to be lots of fun, rather indecisive and apt to change its mind at any second!

Just as the air in our atmosphere can be sensed but not seen, so is the Air element of astrology related to intangibles like thought processes, communication and the intellect. After all, thoughts, like birds in the air, can take flight, suddenly dipping and swerving in brand-new, completely unexpected directions!

People with a strong Air influence in their birth chart tend to think miles ahead of other people. They talk with their hands as well as their mouths, because they're in such a hurry to get their thoughts out into the open. They're often witty and charming and they make fun, unique dates -- but Gemini and Aquarius, especially, can be a bit lacking in the affection and sentimentality department. This is because these Air Signs intellectualize their feelings more than other signs.

Besides, they're so quick-witted that they don't waste much time getting bogged down in feelings; they're already moving on to the next interesting subject! Airy people make very interesting, exciting friends, and they're often the life of the party. These people gravitate toward creative, mental professions like writing, teaching and computer geeks.

Cardinal Signs are the self-starters of the Zodiac. This quality is associated with Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn, and all of these signs love to take the role of fearless leader in any situation, from the boardroom to the bedroom, from the soccer field to their home and family environment. These people don't just sit around and endlessly dream up new ideas; they actually put the push on and turn ideas into reality.

They also work well with someone who can be the 'idea man,' but can then step back and let the Cardinal Sign take the reins and guide the team. And this quality is great at marshaling the troops; they can rouse up everyone around them and get people excited to take part in a new project. As long as everyone respects the Cardinal Sign's position as Head of Operations, things will run along smoothly! But it might be up to someone else to keep a project going once it's on its feet.

They also work well with someone who can be the 'idea man,' but can then step back and let the Cardinal Sign take the reins and guide the team. And this quality is great at marshaling the troops; they can rouse up everyone around them and get people excited to take part in a new project. As long as everyone respects the Cardinal Sign's position as Head of Operations, things will run along smoothly! But it might be up to someone else to keep a project going once it's on its feet.

Cardinal Signs tend to have a lot of energy for getting a project off the ground, but not a lot of the follow-through that's necessary to see things through to the end. For one thing, they're just too active -- there are too many things to do and not enough time to finish all of them! Unless they have plenty of stabilizing influences in their chart, the workspace of a Cardinal Sign can look like a hurricane blew through -- lots of projects, plans and materials, but not much of a system. The Qualities are: Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable

Just as the Earth holds you steady, staying solid and dependable under your feet, Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn, the Earth Signs of the Zodiac, like to lay a solid foundation to build on.

These signs are down-to-earth, practical, and pragmatic, often serving as the rock in their circle of family and friends.

Like a traditional investment account, Earth Signs don't tend to fluctuate much, emotionally or otherwise. They know how to work hard and apply themselves, even to tasks that would make other people throw up their hands in frustration.

Earth Signs, on the other hand, are big believers in 'slow and steady wins the race,' and they're willing to put their nose to the grindstone when properly motivated (read: well paid!).

They tend to be concerned with value, both monetary and sentimental. Taurus, especially, can get very sentimentally attached to both people and possessions! Capricorn is a bit less sentimental, and more about the bottom line; this sign tends to be very good with money -- sometimes too good. It's hard to convince a Capricorn that splurging a little from time to time is actually a good idea.

Virgo, also, can take some convincing to let its hair down and have a good time, regardless of the cost; guess it's that Earth Sign sensibility that makes these signs add everything up in their heads before they're ready to act. These signs gravitate toward professions that highlight the value of things, such as money market managers, research analysts and antique shop owners.

Just as fire burns bright, crackling with heat and energy that are as essential to life as they are potentially destructive, so is the energy that burns within Aries, Leo and Sagittarius, the Fire Signs of the Zodiac. Each of these signs gains a vitality from their element that outshines the rest of the signs.

For a Fire Sign, everything is immediate and intense -- these people want to act fast on their impulses, and they feed off of excitement and adventure. They tend to lead pretty interesting lives as a result!

It's rare to find a Fire Sign that doesn't live on the edge at least some of the time. Backpacking through the mountains, racing go-carts, going salsa dancing at a packed nightclub -- as long as it's fast-paced, fun and adventurous, a Fire Sign will love it.

Because they're so hot-blooded, Fire Signs can make some of the most passionate lovers of the Zodiac. The only trouble is, just as fire burns bright but can burn out fast, so can the desires of a Fire Sign. They'll set their sights on someone, but plenty of times they're more about the chase than the catch.

A Fire Sign needs a lover who will keep them on their toes, and definitely someone who won't try to make them adhere to a strict routine. These signs gravitate toward fast-paced, high-energy, leadership-oriented professions like coaching sports, acting and being CEO of a major company.

Fixed Signs tend to resist change unless it's for a very, very -- read: provably -- good reason. This quality is associated with Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius, and all of these signs can get nervous or irritable when too much change happens too fast in their lives, or when they're around people who are overly whimsical or wishy-washy. Fixed Signs like to just choose a course of action and stick with it, already!

And while that quality can come across as stubbornness or conservatism, it also comes along with some real strengths. Fixed Signs have the natural dedication and discipline needed to see a project through to the end. While other signs might start something new only to abandon it midstream, Fixed Signs will follow it through to the end, crossing all the Ts and dotting all the Is along the way.

These signs don't like to deviate from the plan, which can be both a good thing and a bad one. They can inhibit spontaneity and creativity, but they can also underscore the importance of commitment, of perseverance and stability. Of course, they can be hard to deal with when perseverance isn't the highest priority.

When out with friends, Fixed Signs might dig in their heels when everyone else wants to switch the plan around, and they're apt to get very annoyed if their date doesn't show up on the dot at the appointed time and place! On the other hand, friends of these dependable signs know they can be relied on when the going gets tough.

The Qualities are: Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable

Mutable Signs are the most flexible signs of the Zodiac. This quality is associated with Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces, and all of these signs possess an element of changeability -- even Virgo, an Earth Sign ordinarily associated with stability.

But even Virgo won't get stuck in one mode of thinking; all four of these signs are intellectually flexible, willing to go where their own thoughts or others' teachings lead them.

They're also willing to take on the role that someone else assigns to them -- at least, until they grow tired of it, and move on to something new and different. But in general, when operating in a team environment, a Mutable Sign is the one who will adapt to changes as they occur and won't put up too much of a fuss when the plan deviates from its original path.

On the other hand, this ultra-adaptability can lend these signs a certain amount of inconsistency. They tend to be wishy-washy, which can irritate other signs (especially Fixed Signs, which rely on stability for comfort). Mutable Signs just don't place a high premium on stability. Instead, their interest lies in the flow of things -- of thoughts, creativity and life in general.

And though stability is often associated with maturity and instability with the lack thereof, Mutable Signs may have tapped into one of the basic, universal truths. After all, what is life if not constantly changing conditions and an everlasting need to adapt? Mutable Signs are the most equipped of the Zodiac to roll with life's punches.

Ever hear the saying, 'Still waters run deep'? That perfectly describes the emotional depths of Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces, the Water Signs of the Zodiac. These signs are born nurturers, sensitive to fluctuations in their environment as well as within their loved ones.

And they want to respond to their loved ones' needs, but sometimes these signs can veer into oversensitivity, making it hard for them to reach out to other people.

Cancer, especially, tends to retreat into its shell when the going gets tough; this sign has tremendous emotional depths but doesn't always know how to talk about its feelings.

Scorpio, too, tends to rely on less than direct methods of communication; this sign is well-known for its tendency toward vengefulness and passive-aggression when it gets its feelings hurt.

Sweet, gentle Pisces is the one that knows best how to transcend its own needs and feelings in order to reach out to someone else who may be hurting. This sign wants to help everyone -- people with broken hearts, birds with broken wings, children from broken homes...

Needless to say, having a huge heart can sometimes make life difficult for a Water Sign, because there's only so much one person can do for others. But these signs are incredibly empathetic, not to mention romantic; for a Water Sign, the connection of their own soul with another is the most fulfilling experience of all.

These signs gravitate toward fields that can draw from that nurturing, emotional sensitivity, such as daycare owner, home health worker or restauranteur.