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How to Pronounce Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Audio Pronunciation Guide

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One of the first steps in learning Mandarin Chinese is becoming accustomed to Mandarin pronunciation. Learning how to pronounce Mandarin helps with speaking and listening skills.

The Mandarin language has 21 consonants and 16 vowels. They can be combined together to create more than 400 mono-syllabic sounds.

similar to English, you should try to hear the differences and work on learning how to pronounce Mandarin sounds.

Here is a chart of the 37 sounds of Mandarin with a sound clip of each. Practice these as much as you can - they will provide the foundation learning how to pronounce Mandarin.

Pinyin Explanation Sound Clip
b similar to 'b' in the English 'boat' - softened to approach a 'p' sound audio
p similar to 'p' in the English 'top' - with more aspiration audio
m same as 'm' in the English 'mat' audio
f same as 'f' in the English 'fat' audio
d similar to 'd' in the English 'down' - softened to approach a 't' sound audio
t similar to 't' in the English 'top' - with more aspiration audio
n similar to 'n' in the English 'name' audio
l similar to 'l' in the English 'look' audio
g similar to 'g' in the English 'go' - softened to approach a 'k' sound audio
k similar to 'k' in the English 'kiss' - with more aspiration audio
h similar to 'h' in the English 'hope' - with a slight rasp as in 'loch' audio
j similar to 'j' in the English 'jeep' - tongue is positioned below lower teeth audio
q similar to 'ch' in the English 'cheap' - tongue is positioned below lower teeth audio
x similar to 'sh' in the English 'sheep' - tongue is positioned below lower teeth audio
zh similar to 'j' in the English 'jam' audio
ch similar to 'ch' in the English 'cheap' audio
sh similar to 'sh' in the English 'ship' audio
r similar to 'z' in the English 'azure' audio
z same as 'ds' in the English 'woods' audio
c similar to 'ts' in the English 'bits' audio
s similar to 's' in the English 'see' audio
(y)i similar to 'ee' in the English 'bee' audio
(w)u similar to 'oo' in the English 'room' audio
yu purse your lips and position the tongue high and forwards audio
a similar to 'ah' in the English 'Ah-hah!' audio
(w)o similar to 'or' in the English 'bore' audio
e similar to 'er' in the English 'hers' audio
(y)e similar to the English 'Yay!' audio
ai similar to the English 'eye' audio
ei similar to 'ei' in the English 'weigh' audio
ao similar to 'au' in the English 'sauerkraut' audio
ou similar to 'ou' in the English 'dough' audio
an similar to 'an' in the English 'fan' audio
en similar to 'un' in the English 'under' audio
ang a Mandarin 'a' followed by the 'ng' sound like in the English 'sing' audio
eng a Mandarin 'e' followed by the 'ng' sound like in the English 'sing' audio
er a Mandarin 'e' with the tongue curled back audio
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