The pronunciation guide below usesHanyu pinyin, the official romanization of thePeoples Republic of China. Until recently,Taiwanused theWade-Gilessystem, which is quite different, then switched toTongyong pinyin, only slightly different from Hanyu pinyin, and now officially uses Hanyu pinyin just like the Peoples Republic.
w xwng gn migu/ozhu/ynggu/jind de dshgun/lngshgun linx
The first step is to learn to read the romanization with tones. Avoid any phrasebook that does not mark the tones.
Here are the other consonants in Chinese:
Dubq * or * Qng rng yixi
low to middle, rising pitch that is pronounced like the end of a question phrase (
___()? q b q ___ (hu ch zhn)?
dgi migu/ozhu/ynggu/jind sh dusho qin?)
flat, high pitch that is more sung instead of spoken.
phrasebook. It covers all the major topics for traveling without resorting to English. But pleasePlunge forwardand help us make it a
S means colour so hng s is literally red colour. More common for brown and easier to remember is coffee colour: k fi s
n yŏu mi yu yngwn Cidn?
Do you have any rooms available?
Chinese numbers are very regular. While Arabic numerals have become more common, the Chinese numerals shown below are still used, particularly in informal contexts like markets. The characters in parentheses can be seen as upper case of Chinese numerals. They are generally used in financial contexts, such as writing cheques and printing banknotes.
I want to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate.
neutral pitch that is rarely used by itself (except for phrase particles) but frequently occurring as the second part of a phrase.
Number _____ (train, bus, etc.): numbermeasure word( l, ho, c…) _____ (huch, gnggng-qch, etc.)
A good idea for practicing is to make Chinese friends online since millions of young people in China also look for somebody to practice English with.
) or in Mainland China: (gngn) (either will be understood in Mainland China)
Zhlĭ yu rn hi shu Yngy ma?
For numbers above 100, any gaps must be filled in with lng, as eg. ybiywould otherwise be taken as shorthand for 110. A single unit of tens may be written and pronounced either yshor just sh.
I dont understand (something heard).
Measure words are used in combination with a number to indicate an amount of mass nouns, similar to how English requires twopieces ofpaper rather than just two paper.When unsure, use (ge); even though it may not be correct, you will probably be understood because it is the most common measure word. (One person: yg rn; two apples: lingg pnggu; note that two of something always uses ling rather than r).
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These are the diphthongs in Chinese:
There is a fairly large number of niggling exceptions to the basic rules above, based on the position of the sound:
Pinyin allows very accurate pronunciation of Chineseif you understand how it works, but the way that it uses letters likeq,x,c,zand eveniis not at all intuitive to the English speaker. Studying the pronunciation guide below carefully is thus essential. After you master the pronunciation you still may not be understood, its time to move on to the next challenge, speaking the accurate tones.
. qng gi w knkan Cidn.
There are many ways to ask a question in Chinese. Here are two easy ones for travelers…
(w ky yng nn de shuj ma?)
Weekdays in Chinese are easy: starting with 1 for Monday, just add the number after xngq. InTaiwan, is pronounced xngq (second tone on the second syllable).
Generally Number _____ (train, bus, etc.): numbermeasure word( l, ho, c…) _____ (huch, gnggng-qch, etc.)
(y yu li ho) or (y yu li r)
How much is it to America/Australia/Britain/Canada?
If you think that is a fairly intimidating repertoire, rest assured that many Chinese people, particularly those who are not native Mandarin speakers, will merge many of the sounds above (especiallyqwithchandjwithzh).
(w ky yng nn de dinhu ne?)
(tngnng shu)/ (tngl shu)
While formal written Chinese is the same everywhere, there can be significant differences when the dialects are written in colloquial form. For example Cantonese as used in Hong Kong, more informal phrasings are used in everyday speech than what would be written. Thus, there are some extra characters that are sometimes used in addition to the common characters to represent the spoken dialect and other colloquial words.
…an English-Chinese dictionary.
middle to low to high, dipping pitch: for two consecutive words in the third tone, the first word is pronounced as if it is in the second tone. For example,
(3) Insert it above the letter e if the letters a and o are not present. For example,juand notje
zhruor sometimes simply ru.
mineral spring (i.e. bottled) water
If you are attempting to name a date in the Chinese lunar calendar, add the words before the name of the month to distinguish it from the months of the solar calendar, although it is not strictly necessary. There are some differences: The words (r)/ (ho) are generally not required when stating dates in the lunar calendar; it is assumed. Besides that, the 1st Month is called (zhngyu). If the number of the day is less than 11, the word is used before the value of the day. Besides that, if the value of the day is more than 20, the word (nin) is used, so the 23rd day is for example.
Dro yixi; , Mfn nn le.
_____ Qng mngtin zoshng _____ jioxng w.
Do you go to ___(the central station)?
high to low, rapidly falling pitch that is pronounced like a command (
15th day of the 8th lunar month (the mid-autumn festival)
Some pinyin vowels (especially e, i, ) can be tricky, so it is best to get a native speaker to demonstrate. Also, beware of the spelling rules listed in theexceptionsbelow.
How much is a ticket to _____?
Where is the bathroompolite)?
(chunk/cut into bite-sized pieces)
Chinese is the most spoken language of the world, with more speakers than the next two,HindiandSpanish, combined. However, there are still few learners of Chinese in the Western world and you might get weird looks if you say you want to start learning it: Instead of anger of frustration, the student should instead feel a smug superiority of being ahead of everyone else!
…a Chinese-English dictionary.
is the official language of MainlandChinaandTaiwan, and is one of the official languages ofSingapore. In English, it is often just called Mandarin or Chinese. In China, it is called(), meaning common speech, while in Taiwan it is referred to as(), the national language. It has been themain language of education in China(excludingHong KongandMacau) since the 1950s. Standard Mandarin is close to, but not quite identical with, the Mandarin dialect of theBeijingarea. In Singapore, it is officially referred to as
? Qngwn njio shnme mng?
Look for these characters to get an idea of what youre ordering. With help fromThe Eaters Guide to Chinese Characters(J. McCawley) and using Simplified Chinese.
About one fifth of the people in the world speak some form of Chinese as their native language. It is a tonal language that is related toBurmeseandTibetan. AlthoughJapaneseandKoreanuse Chinese written characters the spoken languages are not related to Chinese. Also, the unrelated Vietnamese language (which uses a distinctive version of the Latin alphabet) language has borrowed many words from Chinese and at one time used Chinese characters as well.
If you are confused by how to put tone marks above the Hanyu Pinyin, follow the steps below:
All phrases shown in here use the simplified characters used in mainlandChinaandSingapore. SeeChinese phrasebook – Traditionalfor a version using the traditional characters still used onTaiwanandHong Kong.
One additional complication is that mainlandChinaandSingaporeusesimplified characters, a long-debated change completed by the mainland Chinese government in 1956 to facilitate the standardization of language across Chinas broad minority groups and sub-dialects of Mandarin and other Chinese languages. Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau and some overseas Chinese still use thetraditional characters. In addition, the Dungan language, which is spoken in some parts of neighbouring countries, is considered to be a variant of Mandarin but uses the Cyrillic alphabet instead of Chinese characters.
Can I make international calls here?
Is there someone here who speaks English?
In most Chinese cities, there are no telephone booths. Instead, small street shops have telephones which can usually be used for national calls. Look for signs like this: Public Telephone Most cafes are cheaper than in hotels. Many mid-range hotels and chains now offer free wireless or plug-in internet. Those cafes are quite hidden sometimes and you should look for the following Chinese characters:
Months in Chinese are also easy: starting with 1 for January, just add the number before yu.
? nmen yu miyu lngwi yns?
A glass of red/white wine, please.
(Listen for… Yes, we have one.: yu – No, we dont.: mi yu)
Can I look at the menu, please?
This page was last edited on 14 October 2017, at 02:54.
( ) ( (nngl) jiŭ yu ninsn).
Place a hand in front of your mouth and comparepit (aspirated) with spit (unaspirated) to see the difference.
All Chinese dialects, in general, use the same set of characters in reading and writing. ACantonesespeaker and a Mandarin speaker will not be able to understand each other, but either can generally read what the other writes. Even a speaker ofJapane搜索引擎优化rKoreanwill recognise many characters.
; in unstressed syllables becames a schwa (IPA [ə]), like ide
(1) Insert it above the a if that letter is present. For example, it isroand notra
() (shu)guzh, literally fruit juice.
…an English-language newspaper.
_____ W dsun zh _____ y.
Always insert tone marks above the vowels. If there is more than one vowel letter, follow the steps below:
Chinese stops distinguish betweenaspiratedandunaspirated, notvoicelessandvoicedas in English. Aspirated sounds are pronounced with a distinctive puff of air as they are pronounced in English when at the beginning of a word, while unaspirated sounds are pronounced without the puff, as in English when found in clusters.
Its okay. (polite response to Im sorry)
I dont understand (something read).
I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen.
May I please ask, what is your name?
I havent done anything wrong.
For simple sentences, onemaybe able to get away without tones, but this can cause confusion in more complex situations, so tones areveryimportant. A classic example is the difference between the Chinese characters for four (, s) and death (, s), different only by tones.
Chinese does not have words for yes and no as such; instead, questions are typically answered by repeating the verb. Here are common examples:
(2) If not, insert it above o. For example,guand notgo
Travellers headed forGuangdong,Guangxi,Hong KongorMacaumay findCantonesemore useful than Mandarin. Those heading forTaiwanor SouthernFujianmay find theMinnanuseful as well.
ck (just the English short a sound)
I will stay for _____ night(s).
Chinese, like most other Asian languages such asArabic, is famous for being difficult to learn. While English speakers would initially have problems with the tones and recognizing the many different characters (Chinese has no alphabet), the grammar is very simple and can be picked up very easily. Most notably, Chinese grammar does not have conjugation, tenses, gender, plurals or other grammatical rules found in other major languages such as English orFrench.
Do you have it in another colour?
unrounded back vowel (IPA [ɤ]), similar to d
(4) If only i, u and are the only present letters, insert it in the letter that occurslast. For example,jiand notju,chuand notchi. Note, if the vowel present is , the tone mark is putin additionto the umlaut. For example, l
() ( (nngl) zhngyu chy).
aftersh,zh,s,zorr, not really a vowel at all but just a stretched-out consonant soundoas in moreuas in soon; but readinju,qu,yuandxuas in French lune or German grnDiphthongs
From January to December, you just need to use this pattern: number (1-12) + yu.
There are four tones in Mandarin that must be followed for proper pronunciation. If you are not used to tonal languages, never underestimate the importance of these tones. Consider a vowel with a different tone as simply a different vowel altogether, and you will realize why Chinese willnotunderstand you if you use the wrong tone mis tomas I want a cake is to I want a coke. Be especially wary of questions that have a falling tone, or conversely exclamations that have an asking tone (egjngch, police). In other words,pronounced likedoes not implymeaning. While Mandarin speakers also vary their tone just like English speakers do to differentiate a statement from a question and convey emotion, this is much more subtle than in English. Do not try it until you have mastered the basic tones.
Where can I find an Internet cafe?
Note that while the spoken Mandarin in the above places is more or less the same, the written characters are different. Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau all still usetraditional characters, whereas Mainland China and Singapore use a simplified derivative. Educated people living in Mainland China or Singapore can still understand traditional character with no problem but not vice versa, for example Taiwanese people may have difficulty recognising some simplified characters.
can also be replaced with lbi and occasionally zhu. eg. ==/ xngq sn = lbi sn = zhu sn
Example – nĭ sh zhngguren ma? – Are you Chinese? (literally – you are chinese + ma)
______? q _____ de pio du sho qin?
Please provide me with a carrier-bag.
Nmen yu miyu boxin xing?
I dont want it! (useful for people who come up trying to sell you something)
Exception – yŏu mi yŏu? – Do you have? (literally – have not have?)
w sh migu/ozhu/ynggu/jind gngmn
Chinese dialects are sometimes mutually intelligible, for example Sichuanese and mandarin or henan dialect(henanese) and mandarin. The same way Japanese dialects are intelligible among each other, but some like Cantonese and mandarin or hokkien(minnan) and mandarin are not intelligible the same way some Germany dialect is not intelligible with standard German.
When writing the date, you name the month(number (1-12) + yu), before inserting the day(number (1-31) + (r)/ (ho) ). Note that the usage of (ho), which is more often used in spoken language, is more colloquial than that of (r), which is more often used in written documents.
Numbers starting from 10,000 are grouped by in units of four digits starting with wn(ten thousand). One million in Chinese is thus hundred ten-thousands ().