Chinese alphabet with English corresponding sounds

Single finals:

  • a      like the vowel in ‘star’ without the ‘r’ sound
  • o      like the vowel in ‘wood’
  • e       like the vowel in ‘stir’
  • i        like the vowel in ‘bit’
  • u       like the vowel in ‘food’
  • ü       does not correspond to any sounds in English

 

Compound finals:

  • ai       like the vowel in ‘bike’
  • ei       like the vowel in ‘lake’
  • ui       like ‘we’ in English, also written as ‘wei’
  • aoa      like the vowel in ‘loud’
  • ou      like ‘o’ in ‘so’
  • iu       like ‘u’  in English, also written as ‘you’
  • ie       like ‘ye’ in ‘yes’
  • üe     does not correspond to any sounds in English
  • er      combination of ‘e’ and ‘r’,  like ‘early’

 

Front nasal sounds:

  • an      like the vowel in ‘anchor’
  • en      like the word ‘earn’ without the ‘r’ sound
  • in       like ‘inn’ in English
  • un      like ‘Wendy’ in English without the ‘dy’ sound, also written as ‘wen’
  • ün      does not correspond to any sounds in English

 

Back nasal sounds:

  • ang      like the word ‘long’
  • eng      like the ‘en’  in ‘Rowen’
  • ing       like the vowel in ‘England’
  • ong      like the vowel ‘Hong’

 

Initials :

  • b      like ‘b’ in ‘book’
  • p      like ‘p’ in ‘pool’
  • m     like ‘m’ in ‘moon’
  • f       like ‘f’ in ‘food’
  • d      like ‘d’ in ‘door’ (unaspirated)
  • t       like ‘t’ in ‘tag’ (aspirated)
  • n      like ‘n’ in ‘no’
  • l       like ‘l’ in ‘love’
  • g      a soft unaspirated ‘k’ sound like ‘k’ in ‘skate’
  • k      like ‘k’ in ‘kangaroo’ (aspirated)
  • h      like ‘h’ in ‘high’
  • j        like ‘j’ in ‘jeep’
  • q       like ‘ch’ in ‘cheese’
  • x       like ‘sh’ in ‘sharp’
  • z       like ‘ds’ in ‘beds’
  • c       like ‘ts’  in ‘tsunami’, with aspiration
  • s       pronounced the same as ‘s’ in ‘sun’ in English
  • zh     like ‘j’ in ‘jerk’, but the tip of the tongue has to touch the front palate, ending with ‘r’ sound.
  • ch     like ‘ch’ in ‘church’, but the tip of the tongue has to touch the front palate, ending with ‘r’ sound, aspirated.
  • sh      like ‘sh’ in ‘ship’, but the tip of the tongue has to touch the front palate, ending with ‘r’ sound
  • r        like ‘r’ in ‘red’, but with lips unrounded.
  • y       like the single vowel ‘i’ in ‘bit’
  • w      like the single vowel ‘u’ in ‘food’

 

Others

  • üan(yuan)=ü+an
  • uo(wo)=u+o
  • uai(wai)=u+ai
  • ua(wa)=u+a
  • uan(wan)=u+an
  • ia(ya)=i+a
  • ian(yan)=i+an
  • iang(yang)=i+ang
  • iong(yong)=i+ong
  • iao(yao)=i+ao

*letters in red: difficult sounds for English speakers.

Ling

Ling

Hi, I’m Ling, a Chinese tutor and a language learning amateur. I create this blog with a goal to help Mandarin learners and Chinese culture lovers to study and know about this language by self-learning. Welcome to visit me from time to time and give me your precious advice! Thank you! 😛

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