Learning Mandarin: Pinyin finals

Chinese woman writing

In a previous post, I described the basics of Pinyin, and mentioned that words are made up of Initials (starts of words) and Finals. There are only a predefined set of each. Then in my most recent Learning Mandarin post, I described the Initials (or starts of words). In today's post, I want to look at Finals (or the ends of words).

a sounds like the a in mama
ai sounds like eye
an sounds like arn
ang sounds like ung
ao sounds like oww

e sounds like er
ei sounds like the name of the letter A
en sounds like un
eng sounds like ung
er sounds a bit like a pirate ARRGH

i sounds like the name of the letter E but can also sound like a short er
ia sounds like eeah
ian sounds like eeyan
iang sounds like eeyoung
iao sounds like ee-oww
ie sounds like air
in sounds like like "in" in English
ing also sounds like "ing" in English
iong sounds like ee-yong
iu sounds like ee-yo

o sounds like or
ong sounds like ong
ou sounds like oh

u sounds like uuww
ua sounds like wa
uai sounds like why
uan sounds like wan
uang sounds like wong
ui sounds like whey
un sounds like ewe-n
uo sounds like or

ū sounds like ewww
ūan sounds like ewww-en
ūe sounds like ewww-air
ūn sounds like oon

Words are basically made up of one of initials I mentioned last time, and one of the finals above. And that applies to people's names as well.

Now that's quite a list, but you do get used to them pretty fast, if you spend time listening carefully to someone speaking.

Learning Mandarin

I'll write more soon on the best methods for learning Mandarin. If you want to get a taste for it in the meantime though, my current favorite site is iTalki, and my favorite teacher by far is Amy He. If you decide to try it, click here and it's cheaper for both you and me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *