Chinese Language Learning | News from China | Sino Culture and History | Quality China Products
The Chinese Outpost
You are here:
WE RECOMMEND
FREE LEARNING RESOURCES
Learning Chinese? See Our List of Free Mandarin Learning SitesFree Mandarin Chinese Learning Sites
CHINAPEDIA
SITE MENU
CHINESE FOR CHILDREN
PRONUNCIATION CHARTS

Mandarin Chinese Initials and Finals

In speech, Chinese words are created using just 21 beginning sounds called initials, and 37 ending sounds called finals. Initials and finals, of course, combine to create the basic sounds of Chinese.

For example, consider Beijing:

Bear in mind, however, that not all combinations of initials and finals are possible. As well, some finals may stand alone without an initial, such as an and ai. In many of these cases, pinyin rules will add "placeholder" initial consonants, so that "un" becomes "yun," and "u" becomes "wu." Strictly speaking, however, "y" and "w" are not initials.

NOTE
Occasionally when someone hears a Chinese speaker say the city name "Beijing," they ask why it doesn't sound like the news anchors say it. That's because the media in the English-speaking world typically gets it wrong (along with most other Asian place and proper names).

The sound "jing" does not begin like the French sound in Je, or in the name Zsa Zsa.

The 'ji-" in "jing" is closer to "Gee," as in, "Gee, these are major networks with lots of money. You'd think they could be bothered to get it right."

If you don't have time for the complete tables of Mandarin initials and finals right now, the following table gives you some examples using just six of each.

 

a

ei

ong

ia

iong

uan

b

ba

bei

       
d

da

dei

dong

     
zh

zha

 

zhong

   

zhuan

r    

rong

   

ruan

j      

jia

jiong

 
g

ga

gei

gong

   

guan



^ Top of Page ^
My 2006 'Travel in China' Blog | Privacy Policy

1998-2016 by Mark A. Baker. All rights reserved.
ISSN 1544-8088