Hanyu Pinyin (汉语拼音)

Pinyin (拼音), or more formally Hanyu Pinyin (汉语拼音), is currently the most commonly used romanization system for standard Mandarin. Pinyin means the phonetic transcription of Chinese characters based on the English alphabet.

Vowels

ā  á  ǎ à
ē  é ě  è
ī  í  ǐ  ì
ō  ó ǒ  ò
ū  ú  ǔ  ù
ǖ  ǘ  ǚ  ǜ


Pinyin

Pinyin did not come into existence until mid-twentieth century. Literally meaning “adding sounds together”, pinyin is a Romanized way to mark the pronunciation of Chinese words. The pronunciation of a Chinese word is usually formed by two parts, one initial followed by one or two finals. Initials act in a similar way to consonants in English, while finals act in a similar way to vowels. Single Chinese words have only one to two syllables.


Pinyin (The Chinese Alphabet)

Initials:


(boss)


p
(pot)
 
m
(mop)
 
f
(fog)
  

(dirt)
 
t
(turf)
 
n
 
(nerd)

l
(lurk)
 
g
(go)


 k
(kerb)

h
(hurt)
 


j
(jeep) 

q
(chi)


x
 (she)



 

zh
(John)



ch
(lunch)



 sh
(Sean)


z
(bids)



c
(hits)



(bus)




r
(rib )
 
y
(eat ) 


w
(woo)






 Finals:

a
(art)

o
(or)


e
(ago)


i
(eat) 

u
(woo
 
ü 
(phew)

ai
(hi)

ei
(ape)
 
ui
(wait)

ao
(how


ou
(so)
 
iu
(euro)


ie
(yeah)


üe
(ü+e)

er
(her)


an
(Ann)

en
(end)

in
(bin)

un
(when)


ün
(shrink)

ang
(sung)  


eng
(beng)


ing
(thing)

ong
(long)




Mandarin Chinese Tones

Mandarin uses four tones to clarify the meanings of words. Since many characters have
the same sound, tones are used to differentiate words from each other.

The four tones in Mandarin are:

  • high level – first tone
  • rising – second tone
  • falling rising – third tone
  • falling – fourth tone

Tone

Mark

Description

1st

p

High and level.

2nd

p

Starts medium in tone, then rises to the top.

3rd

p

Starts low, dips to the bottom, then rises toward the top.

4th

p

Starts at the top, then falls sharp and strong to the bottom.

neutral

p

Flat, with no emphasis.