Learning Mandarin Chinese

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Quick guides:

Chinese alphabet Pinyin:

Pinyin is the official phonetic system for transcribing the Mandarin pronunciations of Chinese characters into the Latin alphabet, for example:

Wǒ shì Měiguó rén.

Meaning: I'm a American.

Description Characters
Vowels used a e i o u ü

Sometimes the v is used to replace the ü (for ease of typing into a computer)
Consonants used b c d f g h j k l m n p q r s t w y z
Tone marks placed on vowels    ̄   ́   ̌   ̀
ā ē ī ō ū ǖ
á é í ó ú ǘ
ǎ ě ǐ ǒ ǔ ǚ
à è ì ò ù ǜ

Pinyin rules:
  • Tone marks are always placed on vowels (a e i o u ü)
  • Syllable has one 1 vowel. The tone mark is placed on this vowel.
  • Syllable has more vowels. The tone mark is placed on the a, o or e. If the a is available, the tone mark is placed on the a.
  • Syllable has more vowels, the tone mark is placed on the i, u, or ü, the second vowel.
  • There are tone marks on the second character of repetitive syllables, such as bàba (father) or māma (mother).