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Initials & Finals

Learning - Pinyin

 

Initials


A Chinese character has only one syllable, which consists of two parts: an initial (consonant) and a final (vowel). The consonants always appear initially in a syllable.


b

b sounds like the 'b' in 'book'.

p is unaspirated p, sounds like the p in spy.

b-à -> bà

p

p-í -> pí

m

m-ǎ -> mǎ

f

f-ā -> fā

d

d sounds like the 'd' in 'door'.

t sounds like the 't' in 'torn'.

 

d-à -> dà

t

t-ǔ -> tǔ

n

n-ǐ -> nǐ

l

l-è -> lè

g

g sounds like the 'g' in 'good'.

 

g-è -> gè

k

k-ǔ -> kǔ

h

h-ā -> hā

j

q sounds like the 'ch' in 'cheek'.

x sounds like the 'sh' in 'she'.

j -ī -> jī

q

q-ī -> qī

x

x-í -> xí 西

zh

zh, ch, sh -- "retroflex" initials should be pronounced with the tongue curled up.

r sounds like  the 'dge' in 'lodge'.

zh-ù -> zhù

ch

ch-ū -> chū

sh

sh-ū -> shū

r

r-ù -> rù

z

z sounds like  the 'ds' in 'beds'.

c sounds like  the 'ts' in 'nuts'.

z-uò -> zuò

c

c-ā -> cā

s

s-ǎ -> sǎ

y

y -- not a true initial. The letter i is written with a y when no initial is present.

w -- not a true initial. The letter u is written with a w when no initial is present.

y-ā -> yā

w

w-ǒ -> wǒ 我 

 

Finals

There are two kinds of finals in the Chinese phonetic alphabet, single finals and compound finals. Their positions are in the rear of a syllable.

 

a

a sounds like 'Ah'.

e sounds like 'er' in 'higher'.

m-ā -> mā

o

w-ǒ -> wǒ

e

h-é -> hé

i

i sounds like 'i' in 'hit'.

 

b-ǐ -> bǐ

u

ch-ū -> chū

ü

l-ǜ -> lǜ 绿 

ai

 

ui is pronounced as uei.

l-ái -> lái

ei

m-ěi -> měi

ui

h-uí -> huí

ao

ao sounds like 'ou' in 'loud'.

iu sounds like 'yew'.

l-ǎo -> lǎo

ou

t-óu -> tóu

iu

j-iǔ -> jiǔ

ie

ie sounds like 'ye' in 'yes'.

er sounds like 'ear' in 'early'.

x-iě -> xiě

üe

x-üé -> xué

er

ér -> ér

an

an sounds like 'an' in 'anchor'

 

un is pronounced as uen.

 

b-ān -> bān

en

r-én -> rén

in

l-ín -> lín

un

c-ūn -> cūn

ün

q-ǘn -> qún

ang

 

 

ong sounds like bee buzz.

sh-àng -> shàng

eng

f-ēng -> fēng

ing

d-īng -> dīng

ong

h-óng -> hóng