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Lesson Transcript

Welcome to Introduction to Chinese.
My name is Alisha and I'm joined by...
Hi everyone! I'm Rui
In this lesson, you'll learn the basics of Chinese pronunciation. We'll give you a brief introduction to the Chinese romanization system, demonstrate a few difficult sounds, and then talk about tones in Chinese pronunciation.
Introduction of Pinyin
Pinyin is a system that represents Mandarin Chinese by using the Roman alphabet. It's now the most common way to romanize Mandarin Chinese. It's the foundation for Chinese pronunciation. Learning Pinyin will benefit you in many ways. It shows you the proper way to pronounce a word. It also allows you to pronounce a word you've never seen. And if you'd like to type in Chinese on your phone or computer, Pinyin input is the easiest and most popular way.
A complete syllable in Pinyin is usually made of Initials, which are consonants, and finals, which are vowels. And lastly a tone mark. Sometimes though, a vowel by itself can make a syllable too.
我 (Wǒ) “I”
哦 (ó)
There are 20 consonant letters in Mandarin or Pinyin. Almost all same consonant letters as English, except for the letter "V."
b, p, m, f,
d, t, n, l,
g, k, h
and so on.
And there are combinations of consonants that are initial sounds as well. But don't worry, there are only three of these...
zh, ch, sh
And then we have vowels. There are 6 single vowels in Mandarin Chinese.
a, o, e, i, u, ü
By combining these single vowels with each other, or by combining them with "n," "ng," "r," we can make many compound vowels. Such as...
ia, ou, ei, ue, er,
an, ün, eng, ian, uan, iong
ai, an, ang, ao,
ei, en, eng, er,
i, ia, ian, iang, iao, ie, in, ing, iong, iu,
ong, ou,
ua, uai, uan, uang, ue, ui, un, üe
It may look like a lot to remember. The trick is to memorize the ones that sound different from English or your native language. This will be emphasized in the next part of the lesson, so stick around.
Unique sounds in Pinyin
Some sounds in Chinese don't sound like their roman letters. We'll show you how they're pronounced in Chinese.
First let's look at some single vowel sounds.
"e" sounds like the "u" in the English "bud," only longer. Remember not to curl your tongue when there's no "r" around.
车 (chē) "car", 喝 (hē) "to drink".
The only exception is when it comes after "y." Then, it sounds more like "e," as in "red."
也 (yě) "also", 叶 (yè) "leaf".
The "i" sound is like "ee" in the English "see."
一 (yī) "one", 西 (xī) "west".
When it comes after a c, ch, r, s, sh, or zh sound, it's more like a short "i" sound, as in "lip."
知识 (zhīshi) "knowledge", 四十 (sìshí) "forty"
The "ü" sound is like the French "u" as in "tu." Your lips should be round and pouting.
绿 (lǜ) "green color", 女 (nǚ) "female".
"U" and "ü" are different sounds. But when "u" comes after j, q, x, y, it makes the same sound as "ü."
橘子 (júzi) "tangerine", 去 (qù) "to go", 玉米 (yùmǐ) "corn".
Now let's look at some compound vowel sounds. For all the compound sounds, you just need to make the first single vowel sound, and then slide into the next single vowel. For example...
the "üe" sound. Try to make the "ü" sound, then slide to "e."
月 (yuè) "moon", 学(xué) "to study".
To make the "uan" sound, combine "u" with "an."
酸 (suān) "sour",圆圈 (yuánquān) "circle".
"ian" sounds like the word "Yen," the Japanese currency.
咸 (xián) "salty", 钱 (qián) "money".
Consonants are pretty easy in Chinese. Just pay attention to the next couple of sounds..
"j" is like "jeep" in English, but press your flat tongue tightly against the back of your upper teeth.
姐姐 (jiějie) "older sister", 家人 (jiārén) "family".
"q" is like "ch" in "cheap," but, again, with a flatter tongue and a stronger puff of breath.
请 (qǐng) "please", 气球 (qìqiú) "balloon".
"x" is like "sh" in "sheep." Again, you lay your tongue flatter and extend the two sides of your mouth wider.
小 (xiǎo) "small", 新鲜 (xīnxiān) "fresh".
The Four Tones in Chinese
Now you know all the sounds in Pinyin, a total of over 400 sounds! What an accomplishment! Congratulations! Now let's move on to another important but also challenging part in Chinese pronunciation - tones.
Every syllable in Chinese pronunciation is stressed, with one of the four different tones.
The first tone is steady with a high pitch.
The second tone starts with a middle pitch, then rises quickly.
The third tone goes down from a low pitch, then rises to the middle of the pitch range.
The fourth tone falls sharply and quickly from a high pitch.
Besides the four stressed tones, there's a neutral tone. This is very light, weak and short. Pay attention to the second syllables of the next examples.
爸爸 (bàba) "dad", 椅子 (yǐzi) "chair", 好吗? (hǎo ma?) "Is it ok?"
Let's recap what we've learned by breaking down a word in pinyin.
The pronunciation for the famous city "Shanghai" 上海 is...
The first syllable here is made of an initial...
and a final...
and a fourth falling tone.
The second syllable is made of an initial...
and a final...
and a third falling then rising tone.
Well done! Let's wrap up this lesson by recapping what we've learned.
In this lesson, we introduced you to pinyin - the romanization method to help get you started learning Chinese. We also covered some of the unique and difficult sounds of Chinese and introduced you to the four tones in Chinese.
We've covered only the basics of Chinese pronunciation. If you're interested in learning more, check out the entire course we created named "The Ultimate Guide to Chinese Pronunciation". In that course, we cover and break down every single sound in the Chinese language, showing you mouth and tongue positioning, and giving you tips to help you perfect your Chinese Pronunciation.
In the next lesson, we'll introduce you to the basics of Chinese Grammar, where you'll learn about Chinese word order and how to build basic phrases in Chinese.
See you in next lesson! Bye!
Bye Bye!


Please to leave a comment.
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ChineseClass101.com Verified
Friday at 06:30 PM
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Did you like this video? Please leave us a comment!

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Monday at 07:11 PM
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Hello Leanne,

Thank you for letting us know, we'll fix it as soon as possible.

Thank you for your understanding, let us know if you have any questions.


Team ChineseClass101.com

Sunday at 03:01 PM
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A bit annoying that the lesson translation of 车 is vehicle, but in the quiz it doesn't accept that answer, only car!! 😣

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 07:40 PM
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你好 Leslie,

谢谢 (Xièxie) for your kind comment. It's great to have you here! 😇❤️️

Let us know if you have any questions.

Kind regards,

雷文特 (Levente)

Team ChineseClass101.com

Leslie Jones
Monday at 03:45 PM
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This is the most valuable lesson so far! My goal is to pick up a script in pinyin and read it aloud correctly. I could just study this video and accomplish my goal. Thanks!

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Thursday at 10:13 PM
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你好 robert groulx,

谢谢 for posting and studying with us. If you have any questions, please let us know.😄

Kind regards,

雷文特 (Levente)

Team ChineseClass101.com

robert groulx
Thursday at 08:04 AM
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thank you for the lesson trnscript

请 (qǐng) "please", 气球 (qìqiú) "balloon".


Monday at 12:01 AM
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Hi Iskandar,

Thank you for posting.

Please let us know if you have any questions.



Team ChineseClass101.com

Sunday at 06:16 PM
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Well done teachers _ you guys are great _ tks. xie _ xie; the beginners have got to set back on their knees and toes; not easy to get all that pronunciations _ memorized ; what more ?? the long journeys to master the Mandarin _ well so that can be used at schools of science tech cultures of china >> 5000 years civilizations _ in beijing etc at times to come; expecting to visit china with in the next 10 years to come _ the beginners are now aged 8 _ 12 years; good luck to all you guys _ the china cultures and the nations to excel the next 20 years _ 2040 way above the USA declining country and nation to date _ WHY ?? EXCEPT ?? scary guys ?? Hence the reasons the world _ hence global civilizations have no options but mastering the Mandarin ASAP _ starting to date June 2019, agree ??

Sunday at 09:47 PM
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Hi there,

Thank you for posting.

You can check out about the Chinese Radicals here:


Hope this helps! In case of any questions, please feel free to contact us.



Team ChineseClass101.com

What about radicals?
Sunday at 07:28 PM
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What about radicals?