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Chinese Alphabets and Pronunciation for Chinese Learning Beginners

As we all know, English words are combined by two or more alphabets. It is the same with Chinese characters. If you want to learn Chinese language, pinyin, Chinese characters and grammar are three aspects that you must learn. As for pinyin, it consists of alphabet and tones. And alphabet, the most important part of pinyin, is a must task that you have to finish.

Let me give you an example:

Characters: 老师

pinyin: lǎo shī

meaning: teacher

Look at the pinyin of “lǎo shī”, here are some questions: how many alphabets are there in this character? Still confused? Don’t worry. In this article, I will explain you Chinese alphabets in details. 

In the standard Chinese system, mandarin alphabet a-z includes forty six basic alphabets, which are divided into two different parts, initials and finals. Initials mean 声母 (shēnɡ mǔ) and finals mean 韵母 (yùn mǔ). They are quite different in pronunciations. Read on to learn how many letters in Chinese alphabet and how to pronounce them. 

1. Initials – shēnɡ mǔ – 声母

This part of alphabets are usually at the beginning of a word, just like the “d” “t” “m” in English. In Chinese, there are twenty three initial consonants.

b      p     m     f
d      t      n      l
g      k     h
j       q     x
zh    ch     sh     r
z      c       s
y      w

2. Vowels – yùn mǔ – 韵母

Vowels in Chinese is similar to the vowels in English. It is an important part forming a Chinese word. It includes twenty three alphabets as well.

a     o      e     i      u      ü
ai    ei     ui    ao
ou    iu      ie      üe     er
an    en     in      un
ang     eng     ing     ong

If you are carefully enough, you will notice that each Chinese pinyin is usuallly made up of one initial and one or two vowels such as “lǎo”, “hàn”, “yǔ”, “shēnɡ”, etc.


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