Humanities Information

Basic Chinese Pinyin Rules

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Talking about Chinese Pinyin rules, let's start by looking at the following different scenarios:

1. Tone Mark Placement

The tone mark is placed over the vowel if there is only one vowel, e.g. wo, or on the main vowel of a syllable where they are two or three vowels, e.g. hao.

1.1 Syllable with one vowel letter, tone mark is always placed over the vowel letter. For examples:

笔 bǐ ( pen ) , 山 shān ( mountain )

车 chē ( car ), 信 xn ( letter )

1.2 Syllables with two or three vowel letters: If the first vowel letter is a medial , e.g. "i", "u", or " ", the tone mark is placed over the vowel letter after the medial.

For example:

学 xu ( study ) , 贵 gu ( expensive)

小 xiao ( small ) , ? l ( strategy)

1.3 If the first vowel letter is not a medial, the tone mark is always placed on the first vowel letter.

For example:

靠 ko ( rely ) , 要 yo ( ask )

好 hǎo ( good ) , 北 běi ( north )

2. Syllables With an Initial

Write down the initial and then the final with no space between them.

For example:

客k ( guest ) , 桌 zhuō ( desk ) 忙 mng ( busy ) , 飞 fēi ( fly )


If and only if "uo" follows "b", "p", "m", or "f", "u" is dropped, resulting in "bo", "po", "mo", or "fo". If and only if "" follows "j", "q", "x", is changed to "u", resulting in "ju", "qu" and "xu"

3. Syllables Without an Initial

3.1 Syllables starting with "a", "o" or "e", just write down the final.

For example:

安 ān ( safe ), 鸥 ōu ( seagull )恩 en 恩 ( favor ), 昂 ng ( raise )

3.2 Syllables starting with "i", replace "i" with "y". For example:

严 yn ( strict ), 也 yě ( too )


For the single vowel "i", and the nasals "in" and "ing", "y" is added before "i", resulting in "yi", "yin", and "ying";

Spell "you" for "iu", 有 yǒu ( have )

3.3 Syllables starting with "u", replace "u" with "w".

For example:

完 wn ( finish ), 外 wi ( outside )

王 wng ( king ), 网 wǎng ( net )


For the single vowel "u", "w" is added before "u", resulting in "wu";

Spell "wen" for "un";

Spell "wei" for "ui".

3.4 Syllables starting with "", replace "" with "yu".

For example:

雨 yǔ ( rain ), 孕 yn ( pregnant )

园yun ( circle ), 约 yuē ( appointment )

4. R-ending

The "er" (儿) sound can follow finals to form retroflection, add "r" at the end of the syllable in this case.

For example:

小孩儿 xiǎo hi er ( little kids )

雨点儿 yǔ diǎn er ( rain drops )

树枝儿 sh zhī er ( tree branch )

Again, it is good to know these rules to understand how to spell a character from Pinyin, but don't be intimidated by these Pinyin rules.

The more you practice, the more you will feel comfortable when speaking Chinese. You will eventually learn these rules without even realizing they exist, like most Chinese people do.

Rosie From Learn Chinese Language Online (

The goal of Learn Chinese Language Online (LCLO) is to reduce the Mandarin Learning curve, promote and introduce the most efficient way to grasp the broad foundation of Chinese language.


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