Learn pinyin - Introduction
Introduction

Chinese syllables have three parts: an initial, a final, and a tone.

Initial
Final
Tone
Syllable

t

a

ˉ

m

ing

ˊ

míng

h

ao

ˇ

hǎo

b

u

ˋ

Initials

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b

p

m

f


d

t

n

l


g

k

h


j

q

x


zh

ch

sh

r


z

c

s



Finals

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a

ai

an

ang

ao


o

ou

ong

iong


e

ei

en

eng

er


i

ie

in

ing

iu


u

ui

un

uo


ü

üe

ün

üan


ia

ian

iang

iao


ua

uai

uan

uang



Tones

Chinese is a tonal language. Syllables that differ only in tones can have different meanings.
There are four main tones and a neutral tone.

Tone
Pinyin
Hanzi
Meaning

1

high

ˉ 

mother

2

rising

ˊ 

hemp

3

low

ˇ 

horse

4

falling

ˋ 

scold

5

neutral

˙ 

ma

[question particle]

In pinyin, the fifth (neutral) tone is usually not marked.




Audio courtesy of the AllSet Learning Chinese Pronunciation Wiki, used with permission.