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Basics: Pronunciation

On this website, Pinyin and Zhuyin transcription are avaliable for Mandarin Chinese.

Current transcription:Pīnyīn (tone marks) [change]
  1. Initials
  2. Finals
  3. Tones
  4. Tone sandhi

Initials

IPAZhuyinPinyinPronunciation
[p]▶span (not aspirated)
[pʰ]▶pan (aspirated)
[m]▶moon
[f]▶fan
[t]▶stand (not aspirated)
[tʰ]▶tan (aspirated)
[n]▶noon
[l]▶leaf
[k]▶scan (not aspirated)
[kʰ]▶can (aspirated)
[x]▶loch (Scottish, similar to have)
IPAZhuyinPinyinPronunciation
[tɕ]▶itchy (not aspirated)
[tɕʰ]▶cheer (aspirated)
[ɕ]▶she
[tʂ]zh ▶pitcher (not aspirated)
[tʂʰ]ch ▶church (aspirated)
[ʂ]sh ▶show
[ʐ]▶pleasure
[ts]▶pizza (not aspirated)
[tsʰ]▶tsunami (aspirated)
[s]▶see


Finals

IPAZhuyinPinyinPronunciation
[ɿ]i ¹ (si) ▶voiced release
of the initial
[ʅ]i ² (shi) ▶shirt (US English)
[a]▶father
[aɪ̯]ai ▶eye
[aʊ̯]ao ▶cow
[an]an ▶ban (British English)
[ɑŋ]ang ▶father + song
[ɤ] ³▶her
[eɪ̯]ei ▶hey
[oʊ̯]ou ▶so
[ən]en ▶taken
[ɤŋ]eng ▶lung
[əɻ]er ▶are (US English)
IPAZhuyinPinyinPronunciation
InitalMedial
1
[i]yi ▶ibee
[i̯a]ㄧㄚya ▶iayard
2ㄚ
[i̯aʊ̯]ㄧㄠyao ▶iaoyowl
[i̯ɛn]ㄧㄢyan ▶ianyen
[i̯ɑŋ]ㄧㄤyang ▶iangy + Pinyin ang
[i̯ɛ]ㄧㄝye ▶ieyet
3ㄚ
[i̯oʊ̯]ㄧㄡyou ▶iuyoke
[in]ㄧㄣyin ▶inseen
[iɤ̯ŋ]ㄧㄥying ▶ingthing
4ㄚ

IPAZhuyinPinyinPronunciation
InitalMedial
[u]wu ▶utoo
[u̯a]ㄨㄚwa ▶uaw + father
[u̯aɪ̯]ㄨㄞwai ▶uaiwhy
[u̯an]ㄨㄢwan ▶uanw + ban
[u̯ɑŋ]ㄨㄤwang ▶uangw + ang
[u̯ɔ]ㄨㄛwo ▶uo ⁴water
[u̯ɔ]wo ▶o ⁴water
[u̯eɪ̯]ㄨㄟwei ▶uiway
[u̯ən]ㄨㄣwen ▶unone
[ʊŋ]ㄨㄥㄨㄨ ▶ongbook + song
[u̯ɤŋ]ㄨㄥweng ▶w + Pinyin eng
IPAZhuyinPinyinPronunciation
InitalMedial
[y]yu ▶ü ⁵French u or German ü
1ㄚ
2ㄚ
[y̯ɛn]ㄩㄢyuan ▶üan ⁵Pinyin ü + yen
3ㄚ
[y̯œ]ㄩㄝyue ▶üe ⁵Pinyin ü + yet
4ㄚ
5ㄚ
[yn]ㄩㄣyun ▶ün ⁵Pinyin ü + n
[i̯ʊŋ]ㄩㄥyong ▶iongy + ong
6ㄚ

1)  [ɿ] only occurs following z, c or s  –  [i] never occurs following these consonants.

2)  [ʅ] only occurs following zh, ch, sh or r  –  [i] never occurs following these consonants.

3)  In unstressed syllables (neutral tone), e is pronounced as [ə].

4)  Following b, p, m or f, [u̯ɔ] is written o, but uo elsewhere.

5)  Following j, q or x, ü is written as u  –  The sound [u] never occurs after these consonants.


Tones

ContourZhuyinPinyinPronunciation
NumberTone mark
551ā ▶high level (even)
35ˊ2á ▶high rising (mid to high)
21ˇ3 (h)ǎ ▶low level (slightly falling)
214ˇ3 (f)falling-rising (long)
51ˋ4à ▶falling (short)
˙5 / 0 (n)avery short and light

h)  half 3rd tone          f)  full 3rd tone          n)  neutral tone


Tone sandhi

Tone sandhi means, that the tone of some syllables changes under certain circumstances.

3rd tone

ConditionRealisationExample
• preceding other 3rd tonelike 2nd toneni˧˥ hao˨˩˦你好
nǐhǎo
• preceding 1st, 2nd, 4th or 5th tonehalf 3rd tonelao˨˩ shi˥˥老师
lǎoshī
• isolated or finalfull 3rd tonehao˨˩˦
hǎo

4th tone

ConditionRealisationExample
• preceding other 4th tonehalf 4th tonezai˥˧ jian˥˩再见
zàijiàn
• preceding 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 5th tone4th tone
(unchanged)
zhao˥˩ pian˥˥照片
zhàopiān
• isolated or final

Neutral tone

ConditionRealisationExample
• following 1st tone[˨] near-lowta˥˥ men˨他们
tāmen
• following 2nd tone[˧] midlai˧˥ le˧来了
lái le
• following 3rd tone[˦] near-highhao˨˩ ma˦好吗
hǎo ma
• following 4th tone[˩] lowshi˥˩ de˩是的
shìde

The character 不 (not)

ConditionRealisationExample
• preceding 4th tone (2nd tone)不是
bú shì
• preceding 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 5th tone (4th tone)
(unchanged)
不想
bù xiǎng
• isolated or final

The character 一 (one)

ConditionRealisationExample
• preceding 4th tone (2nd tone)一个
yí gè
• preceding 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 5th tone (4th tone)一般
yìbān
• isolated or final (1st tone)