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Knowledge Bank - Learning Mandarian

Home > Knowledge Bank > Learning Mandarin > Lesson 2 - Elementary - Hanyu Pinyin Overview

Lesson 2 - Elementary - Hanyu Pinyin Overview

2011.09.05


The beginners always get confused and frustrated by the Hanyu Pinyin study in Chinese Lessons, for most language do not have the tones and express just in letters without any characters. Today we will talk about Hanyu Pinyin.

Chinese Hanyu Pinyin in free Chinese lesson is the romanization of the Chinese "written sound". Romanization approximates Mandarin pronunciation with Western spellings and includes a tone mark to signify the pitch of a word.

Just like alphabet A - Z to English, Hanyu Pinyin in free Chinese lesson provides a phonetic alphabet for Chinese and is taught from Grade 1 in Chinese elementary schools. It is a fundamental tool used for learning the spelling of Chinese characters throughout Chinese language study.

Hanyu Pinyin in free Chinese lesson is used by most modern Chinese dictionaries to denote pronunciation of characters. It is also an efficient input method in Chinese computer software.

After mastering Hanyu Pinyin in free Chinese lesson, you can easily read Chinese books with Hanyu Pinyin infree Chinese lesson marked, learn Chinese characters by looking in the dictionary, or input Chinese characters into your computer, it will take your Chinese study to a higher level.

25 out of 26 English alphabet letters are used in Hanyu Pinyin in free Chinese lesson. Letter ‘v‘ is not used, while letter ‘‘ü is added to represent the vowel sound of ‘yu‘.
Hanyu Pinyin in free Chinese lesson includes consonants and vowel letters.

1.the Consonant letters
There are 20 consonant letters use in Mandarin (three consonants are represented by combinations of two letters - ‘zh‘, ‘ch‘ and ‘sh‘), they are:
b, p, m, f, d, t, n, l, g, k, h, j, q, x, z, c, s, zh, ch, sh, r, y, w

2. the Vowel letters
There are 6 vowel letters used in Mandarin:
a, o, e, i, u, ü

3. the Syllables
Syllables are composed by consonants, vowels and tone.
The consonant that begins a syllable is initial, they can be:
b, p, m, f, d, t, n, l, g, k, h, j, q, x, z, c, s, zh, ch, sh, r, y, w

The rest parts after the initial are finals. Finalcan be a single vowel, a combination of vowels, or combination of vowels and nasals ‘n‘ or ‘ng‘:

There are 6 simple finals which are single vowels, they are : a, o, e, i, u, ü.
The others are compound finals, they are:
ai, ao, ou, ei, ia, ie, iao, iou, ua, uo, uai, uei,
an, ang, ong, en, eng, in, ing, ian, iang, iong, uen, ueng, uan, uang,

The combination of 21 initials and 33 finals in Mandarin romanization (there are five more finals, but they share the same symbols as other finals) form about 420 different sounds.

A word consists of initial + final + tone. In some cases, the initial can be omitted.

Although most of the sounds are generally close to how they are used and pronounced in English, some don‘t follow English letters exactly and are pronounced differently.

Helping ways
Z C S
Z:as “ds”in “reads”, but is unvoiced and with more friction
C:as “ts”in “its”,but is pronounced with a strong puff of air.
S: as “s”in “see”

Zh Ch S h r
Zh: as “j” in :jar”,but is not voiced.
Ch: as “ch”in “chase”,but is pronounced with srong puff of air.
Sh: as “sh” in “shout”,but is pronounced with the tongue curled backward.
R : similar “g(e)” in “garage “
J q x: pronounced with the lips positioned as if you were smiling
J: “j” as in “jeep”
q:”ch” as in “cheese”,but the air comes out more strongly
x:”sh” as in “she”

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