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Consonant Table:

b p m f
d t n l
g k h
j q x
z c s r
zh ch sh
y w

 

For consonants, we also  put all these into English words with the same sound for you to learn and remember in an easier way.

 

*Note: We pronounce these consonants followed by some vowels that can help deliver the sound more clearly.  Letters in the following explanation in "..." are pronounced as in English, and those in '... ' are pronounced in Pinyin. 

      b - as the "b" in "book"
    p - as the "p" in "pool"
    m - as the "m" in "moon"
    f - as the "f" in "food"
 
    d - as the "d" in "door"
    t - as the "t" in "tom"
    n - as the "n" in "no"
    l - as the "l" in "love"
 
    g - as the "g" in good"
    k - as the "k" in "kill"
    h- as the "h" in "high"
 
    j- as the "j" in "jeep"
    q- as the "ch" in "cheese"
    x- as the "sh" in "sharp"
 
    z- as the "z" in "zero"
    c- as the "ts" in "tsunami"
    s- as the "s" in "sun"
    r- as the "r" in "red"
 
    zh- start with 'j' in "jeep", but then end smoothly with "r" sound.  The first 2 sounds in the sample voice show such move.
 
    ch- start with 'q' in "cheese", but then end smoothly with "r" sound.   The first 2 sounds in the sample voice show such move.
 
    sh - start with 'x' in "sharp", but then end smoothly with "r" sound.   The first 2 sounds in the sample voice show such move.
 
( 'zh, ch, sh' are similar to, but strictly different from 'j, q, x' respectively.  However, mixing them is not a too big problem for you to be understood in China.)
 
    y- as the "y" in "yes"
    w- as the "w" in "wood"
 
 

Tones and Markings for Tones

In Chinese it is always very important to pronounce words with correct tone. In transliterated Chinese, tone markings are written over the central vowels in most syllables. Some syllables have no specific tone, and then no sign is put above any vowel. In Mandarin Chinese there are four tones:

  • The 1:st tone is marked with a line ("a" + "-" = "ā"). This is a high, even and constant tone.
  • The 2:nd tone is marked with a rising line ("a" + "´" = "á"). This is a rising tone that grows stronger.
  • The 3:rd tone is marked with a hook ("a" + "v" = "ă"). This tone is first falling and fading, then rising and growing strong.
  • The 4:th tone is marked with a falling line ("a" + "`" = "à"). This is a quickly falling and fading tone.

In unstressed syllables the tone may be hardly noticeable. In such cases, no marking is put above any vowel. You may regard this as "tone zero". The tone will usually end up more or less where the previous syllable ended.



Sequences of Tones

When you pronounce a sequence of tones, the tones will not always remain the same. The most common details to be noted are:
  • The word "yi" (meaning "one") is usually of tone #1. However this word will be pronounced with tone #2 when directly preceding a tone #4. It will be pronounced with tone #4 when directly preceding a tone #2 or #3. Example: "yi1 ge4" is pronounced as "yi2 ge4", while "yi1 ben3" is pronounced as "yi4 ben3".
  • The word "bu" (meaning "not") is usually of tone #4. However this word will be pronounced with tone #2 when directly preceding a tone #4. Example: "bu4 shi4" (meaning "is not") is pronounced as "bu2 shi4".
  • Every syllable that is usually pronounced with tone #3, will turn into a tone #2 when directly preceding another tone #3. This rule will apply for entire sequences of words! Example: "liang3 ben3 shu1" (meaning "two books") is pronounced as "liang2 ben3 shu1".
  • If a sentence contains a long sequence of tones #3, the phrase may be split into parts separated by a brief pause. Tones are then chosen within each part of the sentence. Example: "wo3 xiang3 mai3 liang3 ben3 shu1" (meaning "I want to buy two books") may be pronounced as "wo2 xiang2 mai3" + "liang2 ben3 shu1" rather than "wo2 xiang2 mai2 liang2 ben3 shu1" (spoken without any pause!).


 
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