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Pinyin is a Roman-letter based system that China now uses to mark the pronunciation of Chinese characters.  With four tones and pinyin, any Chinese characters can be pronounced precisely.  In many cases, Pinyin is quite intuitive to English speakers with only a few exceptions.  However, it can be a twist to render Pinyin in four tones for people who just start.

Pinyin is made up of 2 tables: vowel table and consonant table, the latter of which will be discussed in Class 4.

Vowel Table:

a o e i u ϋ
ai ei ui      
ao ou iu      
ie ue er      
an en in un ϋn  
ang eng ing ong    

As you can see, most vowels are simply a combination of the 6 major vowels in the first row, which is obviously the most important part, and some special consonants.

How can you remember all this?  We are putting all these into English words with virtually the same sound for you to learn and remember in an easier way.

*Note: letters in the following explanation in "..." are pronounced as in English, and those in '... ' are pronounced in Pinyin.  Also, all samples are delivered in 4 tones.

  a - as the vowel in "star" without the "r" sound

  o - as the vowel in "law"

  e - as the vowel in "stir"

  i - as the vowel in "bit"

  u - as the vowel in "food"

  ϋ - as "y" in "yellow" followed by the 'u' above

 

  ai - as the vowel in "bike"

  ei - as the vowel in "lake"

  ui - combination of 'u' and 'i', the same as word "we" in English

 

  ao - as the vowel in "loud"

  ou - as the vowel in "flow"

  iu - combination of 'i' and 'u', the same as word "yew" in English

 

  ie - combination of 'i' and 'e', as the vowel in "sierra"

  ue - combination of 'u' and 'e', as the vowel in "buena"

  er - combination of 'e' and 'r', as the vowel in "early"

 

  an - as the vowel in "anchor":

  en - as the word "earn" without the "r" sound:      

  in - as in the word "inn"

  un - as in the word "one":

  ϋn - as "y" in "yellow" followed by the English word "one"

 

  ang - as the word "long"

  eng - as the vowel in "lung"

  ing - as the vowel in "England"

  ong - as 'u' followed by the 'ng' as above:    


 
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