Introduction to Chinese
Pronunciation of Chinese words is in two parts
When a word is written in PinYin the pronunciation is broken into two parts.
To practice, say the first part clearly then the second part clearly, then put them together. This will give you the shape of the word. The tone comes from the second part.
FIRST PART – Sheng Mu - which is similar to a consonant in English. Do not shape the sound. It is a single hard sound. The brackets ( ) give and example of a word in English which has the correct sound for the letter in pinyin. Eg: 'b' as in (b ore):
b(bore) p(paw) m(more) f(for) d(dirge) t(turn) l(learn) n(nurse) g(girl) k(curd)
h(her) j(jean) q(cheese) x(shower) z[say z with your teeth together tongue behind]
zh - as in j in jury
r(run) y(yee) w(when)
SECOND PART - Yun Mu (4 tones) - which is similar to a vowel in English. This is what gives a word its shape, its 'tone'. It is softer and can be shaped:
a(car) o(or) e(her) i(see) ai(eye) ou(ho) ie(yeah) ue(you'áir) ei(say) u(you)
ao(cow) ui(way) un(tune) uo(or)
an(under) ang(hung) en(hen) eng(tongue) in(in) ing(ing) ong(gong)
When the ‘u’ is behind ‘j,q,x,y’ then change to 3rd tone
When the tones are both ‘3rd tone’ change the first one to a ‘2nd tone’