A1 pronunciation points

"A1" (Beginner) is the first and lowest level, as defined by the European Common Framework, which is used on this Chinese Pronunciation Wiki. It is roughly equivalent to HSK Level 1. For more information on the levels used here, see the Pronunciation Points by Level page. There are 16 total pronunciation points in the list below.



Level Pronunciation Point Summary
A1 Introduction to pinyin Some background information about pinyin for absolute beginners. HINT: pinyin was not created as a pronunciation guide for foreigners!
A1 Pinyin chart Learn all the sounds and individual syllables that make up all the words in Mandarin Chinese.
A1 Pinyin quick start guide
1. Easy sounds Not all sounds in Mandarin are hard! This part covers "p", "m", "f", "d", "t", "n", "l", "s", "g", "k", "h".
2. The "a" vowel The vowel "a" in Mandarin isn't too hard, so let's start with that one. Now you can make actual syllables!
3. The "e" vowel The letter "e" in pinyin can represent several different vowel sounds, and it's important to learn them all.
4. The "i" vowel In pinyin, "i" makes more than just one sound. Be sure to learn in what syllables it sounds different.
5. The "o" and "u" vowels The "o" and "u" vowels in Chinese aren't quite as straightforward as one might hope, and the two get confused a bit, so it's useful to learn them together.
6. The "c" and "z" sounds The letters "c" and "z" in pinyin can totally throw you off at first, but the sounds they make are not too difficult for most learners.
7. The "ch" "sh" and "zh" sounds These similar sounds shouldn't be too hard for speakers of English, but it's important to pay close attention to the vowel sounds that they combine with.
8. The "r" sound This is probably an "r" sound unlike any you've ever made before. It doesn't exist in English, but it can be learned!
9. The "ü" vowel Not the same as "u", the "ü" sound might be familiar if you speak French or German, but it doesn't exist in English.
10. The "j" "q" and "x" sounds The "j", "q", and "x" sounds are all foreign to speakers of English, but absolutely essential to master for good Chinese pronunciation.
A1 Pinyin gotchas There are certain seemingly inconsistent things about pinyin that trip everybody up at first. Here they all are, together in one convenient list.


Level Pronunciation Point Summary
A1 Four tones There are four main tones in Mandarin Chinese. Your quest to master them starts here!
A1 Neutral tone Whether you think of it as "the fifth tone," or "the zeroth tone," it's a little tonal trick you'll need to know.