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arrowStep 1: Learn how to read PinYin

Pinyin is a way of writing Chinese using the Roman Alphabet. Although there are a few similarities, it is important to realize that quite a few Pinyin letters are pronounced differently than in English.
See the phonetic guides below.

Vowels
Pinyin
English Equivalent
a
father
an
fun
ang
sung
e
fern
en
broken
eng
like en but with ng at the end
eng (after f)
long
i
peel
i (after c,s or z)
girl
i (after ch,sh,zh or r)
r in Grrr
in
pin
ing
ping
o
more
ong
long
u
book
un
tune
( and u after q, j or x)
new
  • notes: when i is written at the beginning of a syllable, it changes to y.      i+a    arrow  ya
              when u is written at the beginning of a syllable, it changes to w.    u+o   arrow  wo
              
    when u is written as a single syllable, it's written as wu.                       u   arrow  wu
              when in is written as a single syllable, it's written as yin.                     in   arrow  yin
              when ing is written as a single syllable, it's written as ying.              ing   arrow  ying

Consonants (Initials)
Pinyin
English Equivalent
b
book
d
door
f
four
g
goat
h
he
k
kit
l
lamp
m
man
n
nose
ng
sing
p
pan
r
run, pleasure
t
time
y
yellow
zh
gem
ch
church
sh
shop
z
kids
c
its
s
sum
j
jeep
q
chop
x
sheet

Combinations
Pinyin English Equivalent
ai
I
ao
our
ei
may
ia
yard
ian
yen
iang
young
iao
yowl
ie
yes
iong
jung
iu
yolk
ou
low
ua
wah!
uai
why
uan
won
uan (after j, q, x or y)
went
uang
swung
ue
yeah
ui
way
uo
war
  • note: when i+ou is written at the end of a syllable, it changes to iu.      l+i+ou   arrow  liu

See all the possible combinations in a PinyinChart. (ChinesePod)


THE 2 SECRETS OF CHINESE
  • SECRET 1 :  a sound, or a combination of sounds (maximum 3) represents a character  
a = a
t + ai = tai = tai
zh + u + ang = zhuang = zhuang

  • SECRET 2: one or more characters form words
e = e = hungry

m + a  =  ma  =  ma  =  horse

(k + ai) + ( x + in ) = kai + xin = kai + xin = kaixin = happy

(t + u) + (sh + u) + (g + u + an)   = tu + shu + guan = tu + shu + guan = tushuguan = library

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Step 2: Learn the 5 different tones


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