Learning Chinese - Pīnyīn finals

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Pīnyīn initialsPīnyīn finals → [[Learning Chinese - Tones|Template:Learning Chinese - Tones]]

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Now let's recap what we know about finals. The final of pīnyīn notation is the second (or first, if there's no initial) part of the pīnyīn that starts with a vowel sound. All pīnyīn need to have a final to be valid, but don't have to have a initial, such as ài (which can mean 'love', as mentioned on the previous page).

Each final has their own single sound, regardless of the final they are paired with with the exception of -i and i. Apart from those two, this does mean all pīnyīn with the same final rhyme with each other.

We will work from top to bottom down the table below. In each case, I will supply an English word that contains with the same sound, where the sound is in bold type. Finals that need particular attention are highlighted in red. Required tongue positions for particular initial groups are also pointed out.

Each final will be accompanied with IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) notation of its pronunciation but do be aware that pronunciations can wary, depending on different dialects or accents of the speaker. If you know IPA notation or at least are familiar with the system, the notation can be helpful. If you don't know anything about IPA, I would recommend ignoring the notation. It can be distracting or confusing because you would have even more to remember.

Again, let's replay the table for reference.

Pīnyīn table Initials Pīnyīn table
b p m f d t n l g k h j q x zh ch sh r z c s
Group a Finals -i zhi chi shi ri zi ci si -i Group a Finals
a a ba pa ma fa da ta na la ga ka ha zha cha sha za ca sa a
o o bo po mo fo lo o
e e me de te ne le ge ke he zhe che she re ze ce se e
ê ê ê
ai ai bai pai mai dai tai nai lai gai kai hai zhai chai shai zai cai sai ai
ei ei bei pei mei fei dei tei nei lei gei kei hei zhei shei zei sei ei
ao ao bao pao mao dao tao nao lao gao kao hao zhao chao shao rao zao cao sao ao
ou ou pou mou fou dou tou nou lou gou kou hou zhou chou shou rou zou cou sou ou
an an ban pan man fan dan tan nan lan gan kan han zhan chan shan ran zan can san an
en en ben pen men fen den nen gen ken hen zhen chen shen ren zen cen sen en
ang ang bang pang mang fang dang tang nang lang gang kang hang zhang chang shang rang zang cang sang ang
eng eng beng peng meng feng deng teng neng leng geng keng heng zheng cheng sheng reng zeng ceng seng eng
er er er
Group i Finals i yi bi pi mi di ti ni li ji qi xi i Group i Finals
ia ya dia nia lia jia qia xia ia
io yo io
ie ye bie pie mie die tie nie lie jie qie xie ie
iai yai iai
iao yao biao piao miao fiao diao tiao niao liao jiao qiao xiao iao
iu you miu diu niu liu jiu qiu xiu iu
ian yan bian pian mian dian tian nian lian jian qian xian ian
in yin bin pin min nin lin jin qin xin in
iang yang biang diang niang liang jiang qiang xiang iang
ing ying bing ping ming ding ting ning ling jing qing xing ing
Group u Finals u wu bu pu mu fu du tu nu lu gu ku hu zhu chu shu ru zu cu su u Group u Finals
ua wa gua kua hua zhua chua shua rua ua
uo wo duo tuo nuo luo guo kuo huo zhuo chuo shuo ruo zuo cuo suo uo
uai wai guai kuai huai zhuai chuai shuai uai
ui wei dui tui gui kui hui zhui chui shui rui zui cui sui ui
uan wan duan tuan nuan luan guan kuan huan zhuan chuan shuan ruan zuan cuan suan uan
un wen dun tun nun lun gun kun hun zhun chun shun run zun cun sun un
uang wang guang kuang huang zhuang chuang shuang uang
ong weng dong tong nong long gong kong hong zhong chong shong rong zong cong song ong
Group ü Finals ü yu ju qu xu ü Group ü Finals
üe yue nüe lüe jue que xue üe
üan yuan juan quan xuan üan
ün yun lün jun qun xun ün
iong yong jiong qiong xiong iong
Pīnyīn table b p m f d t n l g k h j q x zh ch sh r z c s Pīnyīn table
Initials
Every pīnyīn links to an example character with that pīnyīn.
Colour Legend:
"regular" initial or final

Final is in Group a or is a direct combination of:

  • i+Group a final
  • u+Group a final
  • ü+Group a final
Final of i, u, ü groups is a modified combination of:
  • i+Group a final
  • u+Group a final
  • ü+Group a final
syllable is direct combination of initial and final (or follows rules for no-initial syllables outlined at the top of the page) syllable is modified combination of initial and final

Group a finals

Group a finals are the main group where these can be used to construct the finals in the other three groups, with a couple of exceptions. This group is essentially the most generic, some don't even involve a at all.

Finals English equivalent IPA Guidance
-i
  • shirt
Easily the least conventional final to start with, you might have noticed that i has its own final row, even its own group. -i is separate because it is pronounced very differently to i. However, the good news that the two do not have overlapping initials so you can more easily figure out which pronunciation to use. This is the only final that does not have a form with no initial.

Now let's talk about the actual pronunciation. It's actually a lot easier than it initially seems. Don't pronounce an i sound but elongate the initial and there you go.

For example, for ri, first pronounce the r sound. Then hold it for a long sound like rrr. And there you go.

a
  • matter
It sounds like your typical English a when pronounced as ah.
e
  • nerd
Sounds like the English er or uh. This final is an obvious example that reading pīnyīn as though it was English really doesn't work.

Be careful because the Chinese er is a separate final with a different pronunciation.

ai
  • bye
  • high
Sounds like the English eye.
ei
  • bay
  • hey
  • neigh
Sounds like the English ey or ay.
ao
  • cowl
Sounds like the English oww but the a sound does need to be more prominent than the o.
ou
  • so
Sounds like the English long o sound.
an
  • pang
Sounds similar to the English long an sound but the a needs to be emphasised. You could possibly notice this difference when listening to, say, the Chinese man. It almost sounds like the English man but sounds off as the a is held a little longer.
en
  • taken
Sounds like the English en.
ang
  • bung
Sounds more like the English ung. There is no Chinese ung final but do be careful of the uang final, which sounds more like two syllables.

It's also important to distinguish this from the Chinese eng below. ang would be close to be phonetically spelt uhng in English.

eng
  • burng
This is a weird one. It sounds like the English urng but the sound needs to come from your throat.

(burng is not a real English word, in case you were wondering.)

er
  • bird
Sounds like the English er but the r needs to be emphasised.

Group i finals

Let's move onto the i finals. As mentioned prior, the i group consists of i plus a combination of i with finals from the a group.

Finals English equivalent IPA Guidance
  • i
  • yi, when there is no initial.
  • bee
Sounds like the English ee. The important thing to note here is that for the Chinese yi, you do not pronounce the y. This is the only i final this applies to, all others pronounce the y.
  • ia
  • ya, when there is no initial
  • yap
Sounds like the English ya.
  • ie
  • ye, when there is no initial
  • yet
Sounds like the English ye.
  • iao
  • yao, when there is no initial

--

Sounds like the English yao, or i + ao. We're getting to the sounds that aren't really in use in English. However, since these will be mostly combinations of other sounds, the combination sounds should be fairly intuitive.
  • iu
  • you, when there is no initial
  • yew
Sounds like the English yew, or i + u.
  • ian
  • yan, when there is no initial
  • yen
Sounds like the English yen, which is cheating because 'yen' is a Japanese word... Admittedly, this one doesn't sound like i + an, it sounds more like i + en. Helpfully, there isn't a ien final.
  • in
  • yin, when there is no initial
  • chin
Sounds like the English yin. Be sure not to make a g sound at the end because that's the ying final.
  • iang
  • yang, when there is no initial
  • yang
Sounds like the English yang, which is again cheating because 'yang' is a Chinese word, or i + ang.
  • ing
  • ying, when there is no initial
  • ding
Sounds like the English ing.

Group u finals

Next are the u finals. As with the i group, the u group consists of u plus a combination of u with finals from the a group.

Finals English equivalent IPA Guidance
  • u
  • wu, when there is no initial.
  • loop
Sounds like some variations of the English oo, as in loop. The important thing to note here is that for the Chinese wu, you do not pronounce the w. This is the only u final this applies to, all others pronounce the w.
  • ua
  • wa, when there is no initial.
  • hwah
It is very important that you do not pronounce wa as it appears in typical English words, such as water or war, as these are pronounced closer to the Chinese uo (or wo).

hwah is not a real English word, by the way.

  • uo
  • wo, when there is no initial.
  • water
Sounds like the English woh.
  • uai
  • wai, when there is no initial.
  • why
Sounds like the English why. Be careful not to use the English sound wai as in waiter, as that sounds more like the Chinese wei.
  • ui
  • wei, when there is no initial.
  • wait
Sounds like the normal usage of English wai.
  • uan
  • wan, when there is no initial.
  • want
Sounds like the normal usage of English wan.
  • un
  • wen, when there is no initial.
  • went
Sounds like the normal usage of English wen.
  • uang
  • wang, when there is no initial.
  • wong
Sounds like the normal usage of English wan.

wong is not an English word, by the way. Speaking of this though, wang is a common Chinese name. Please be careful to pronounce this as wong.

  • ong
  • weng, when there is no initial.
  • koung
  • wung, for weng
Except for the Chinese weng, the Chinese ong sounds like the English oung, not that it's used in any words.

Please be careful to pronounce the Chinese dong properly. It is not pronounced like the English dongle. It's more like doung, or the sound of a deep bell. I hope you didn't laugh at that unintended pun.

Group ü finals

Next are the ü finals. As with the i and u groups, the ü group consists of ü plus a combination of ü with finals from the a group.

Finals English equivalent IPA Guidance
  • ü
  • yu, when there is no initial.
  • lunar
This is the same as the German ü. Bare in mind you need to pronounce the y in the Chinese yu.

Instead of , , , and , you can write yu, ju, qu and xu as these initials do not use any u finals.

  • üe
  • yue, when there is no initial.
  • where
Sounds like the normal English where. Again, bare in mind you need to pronounce the y in the Chinese yue.

Instead of yüe, jüe, qüe, and xüe, you can write yue, jue, que and xue as these initials do not use any u finals.

  • üan
  • yuan, when there is no initial.
  • when
Sounds like the normal English when. Again, bare in mind you need to pronounce the y in the Chinese yuan.

Instead of yüan, jüan, qüan, and xüan, you can write yuan, juan, quan and xuan as these initials do not use any u finals.

  • ün
  • yun, when there is no initial.
  • win
Sounds like the normal English win. Again, bare in mind you need to pronounce the y in the Chinese yun.

Instead of yün, jün, qün, and xün, you can write yun, jun, qun and xun as these initials do not use any u finals.

  • iong
  • yong, when there is no initial.
  • yong
Sounds like the normal English yong, again not really an English word.
Pīnyīn initialsPīnyīn finals → [[Learning Chinese - Tones|Template:Learning Chinese - Tones]]

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