Also known as: 拼音 (pīnyīn) and 汉语拼音 (Hànyǔ pīnyīn).

If you've just started learning pinyin, be sure to check out:

The rest of this page lists all the articles on this wiki about pinyin, grouped by level.

Pronunciation Points Related to Pinyin

A1 Pinyin Points

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.

A2 Pinyin Points

Level Pronunciation Point Summary
A2 Tough sounds (basic) Certain sounds and sound combinations need extra attention.
1. Tough sounds c-s-z- Not all learners struggle with them, but the c- and z- initials can be tricky for some.
2. Tough sounds s-sh-, c-ch-, z-zh- Although the sounds themselves aren't too bad, the way they're combined can be difficult.
3. Tough sounds x-sh-, q-ch-, j-zh- The x-, q-, and -j initials are new and foreign. When mixed with the sh-, ch-, and zh- initials, the results can be downright brutal.
4. Tough sounds r- The r- initial is an all-new sound for English-speakers, and it definitely requires practice.
5. Tough sounds -an-ang The -an and -ang finals aren't too bad by themselves, but how they're pronounced can vary a bit depending on what comes before them.
6. Tough sounds -e The Mandarin "e" sound, although not entirely alien to English speakers, does take some practice to get right consistently.
7. Tough sounds -ou-uo The "ou" and "-uo" vowel sounds aren't difficult, but they're easy to mix up.
8. Tough sounds -ü-u Those two dots make a difference, but sometimes they're "stealth."
9. Tough sounds -un The key here is knowing when you're dealing with the "ü" vowel, since the two dots are not always written.
10. Tough sounds -uan The key here is knowing when you're dealing with the "ü" vowel and when you're dealing with the "ü" vowel.
A2 Erhua This is the "Beijinger R sound" that gives Mandarin Chinese its pirate flavor!
A2 Pinyin spelling rules Capitalization, apostrophes, punctuation... all good to know!

B1 Pinyin Points

Level Pronunciation Point Summary
B1 Tough sounds (advanced) Certain sounds and sound combinations STILL need extra attention.
1. Tough sounds x-sh-, q-ch-, j-zh- (phrases) Hopefully the x-, q-, and -j initials are less foreign foreign now, But they undoubtedly still need practice!
2. Tough sounds r- (phrases) English-speakers needs dedicate practice to master the r- initial sound.
3. Tough sounds -e (phrases) Even at the intermediate level, most learners benefit from extra practice of the Mandarin "e" sound.
4. Tough sounds -ou-uo (phrases) If you still occasionally get your "ou" and "-uo" vowel sounds mixed up, then it's time to master them.
5. Tough sounds -ü-u (phrases) Intermediate learners should no longer be deceived by the "stealth ü" vowel, but often still need practice with it.
6. Tough sounds -un (phrases) Sometimes the "-un" sound can still trip people up, even at the intermediate level.
B1 Rare syllable You won't find these in our chart, but if you're an intermediate learner, it's time to let you in on the little secret of these syllables' existence.