Pīnyīn is a common way of romanizing Mandarin, and it's useful in learning the language if you're coming from an English speaking background. When attempting to read and write pīnyīn, most sounds directly correlate to their English sound equivalents. However, there are some exceptions.

A useful thing to note is that the pīnyīn for 'ch', 'sh', and 'zh' have an airy sound, as if you're starting the sound with the tip of your tongue touching the top of your mouth.

I broke up the sounds into three categories - consonant, vowel, and vowel combination.


Pinyin English Equivalent Notes
b b
c ts more like a hard "ts" followed by an airy "h"
ch ch airy; tip of tongue starts at top of mouth
d d
f f
g g
h h
j j
k k
l l
m m
n n
p p
q ch
r r
s s
sh sh airy; tip of tongue starts at top of mouth
t t
w w
x sh
y y
z z
zh j airy; tip of tongue starts at top of mouth


Pinyin English Equivalent Notes
a ah
e uh, eh depends on context
i ee, ur, ih, uh depends on context
o oh, woh depends on context
u oo, ew depends on context; short "ew" but not "eeeew"

vowel combo

Pinyin English Equivalent Notes
ai eye
ao ow "ow" as in "cow"
ei ay "ay" as in "way"
ou oh as in "Oh! I forgot!"
ua wah, oo-ah
uai why
ui way This doesn't make sense to me,
but I just have to remember that "ui"="way"
uo woh like "whoah"

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