Lesson 1: Introduction to Hanyu PinYin

Hanyu (汉语) means Chinese Language

Pin () means spelling

Yin () means sound

Hanyu PinYin is the Chinese Phonetic System. It is written in Roman letters to represent the sound of the characters. Chinese pronunciation does not correspond directly to the sound of English but only an approximate only.

A Chinese syllable consists of an initial and a final. There are altogether 21 initials and 38 finals. Initial is equivalent to a consonant in English and finals are the equivalent of vowels in English.

Initials

b p m f d t n
l g k h z c s
j q x r zh ch Sh

 

Initial   m, f,n, l, h, s and sh are similar to English pronunciation.

b  (unaspirated)                       like      p          in spit

p  (strongly aspirated)             like      p          in pay

d  (unaspirated)                       like      t           in stop

t  (strongly aspirated)              like      t           in take

g  (unaspirated)                       like      k          in skill

k  (aspirated)                           like      k          in kill

z  (unaspirated)                       like      ds        in reads

c  (strongly aspirated)             like      ts         in cats

j  (unaspirated)                        no equivalent in English. Like ji (じ) in Japanese

q  (strongly aspirated)             no equivalent in English. Like chi (ち) in Japanese

x                                              no equivalent in English. Like shi (し) in Japanese

r                                               like rain with tough curl upwards

zh                                            like      j           in job

ch  (strongly aspirated)           like      ch        in church with tongue curl upwards

*aspirated means pronounce with a breathing

Finals

i u ü
a ia ua
o uo üe
e ie
er
ai uai
ei uei (ui)
ao iao
ou iou (iu)
an ian uan üan
en in uen (un) üen
ang iang uang
eng ieng ueng
ong iong

ie         like      ye        in yet

e          like      e          in her

er         like      ar         in bar (American pronunciation)

ai         like English word eye

ei         like      ay        in bay

ou        like      o          in so

ao        like      ow       in cow

an        like      an        in ban

en        like      en        in taken

-ng       nasalized sound like ng in bang

Examples of Initial + Final

bu ()  no pa () scared mang ()  busy

hao () good           zhong ()  middle          xie ()  thanks

PinYin Tone

Chinese pronunciation is a very important step in learning this language. If the tone is pronounced incorrectly, the meaning of the word changes as well. There are basically 4 tones and 1 neutral tone in Chinese.

1st Tone:        High Level Tone

Example:        Ma (妈)  mother

2nd Tone:       High Rising Tone

Example:         Ma  (麻)  hemp

3rd Tone:        Low Dipping Tone

Example:         Ma  (马)  horse

4th Tone:        High Falling Tone

Example:         Ma  (骂)  scold

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5 Responses to Lesson 1: Introduction to Hanyu PinYin

  1. ali says:

    It is good, but could you please let me know how I can make sure about the correct pronunciation? as you mentioned, the pronunciation is so important, is there any link or anything to download about hearing the correct way of saying them?
    Thanks

  2. Mark says:

    There are probably others, but if you can get “Mango” through your local library or school, it is an excellent resource. You can record any sound you make and compare it to native speakers. It’s really great! Of course, working with native speakers is the best, but if they are not available Mango is the next best thing, IMO.

  3. sahnoun says:

    it s very good i like ths site .i am beginner in chinese .i have chinese friend from henan but she s not good n english .so she tries to help me by the net of course

  4. sahnoun says:

    of course i am usings also many software n chnese and there are very good but only for trial .there s not a way how to pay to get them.
    also ther s the ste of cine-information but not enough

  5. malik says:

    i read chinese language carefully ,have good feelings for that.

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