Pinyin finals

Chinese woman writing

In a previous post, I described the basics of Pinyin, and mentioned that words are made up of Initials (starts of words) and Finals. There are only a predefined set of each. Then in my most recent Learning Mandarin post, I described the Initials (or starts of words). In today's post, I want to look at Finals (or the ends of words).

a sounds like the a in mama
ai sounds like eye
an sounds like arn
ang sounds like ung
ao sounds like oww

e sounds like er
ei sounds like the name of the letter A
en sounds like un
eng sounds like ung
er sounds a bit like a pirate ARRGH

i sounds like the name of the letter E but can also sound like a short er
ia sounds like eeah
ian sounds like eeyan
iang sounds like eeyoung
iao sounds like ee-oww
ie sounds like air
in sounds like like "in" in English
ing also sounds like "ing" in English
iong sounds like ee-yong
iu sounds like ee-yo

o sounds like or
ong sounds like ong
ou sounds like oh

u sounds like uuww
ua sounds like wa
uai sounds like why
uan sounds like wan
uang sounds like wong
ui sounds like whey
un sounds like ewe-n
uo sounds like or

ū sounds like ewww
ūan sounds like ewww-en
ūe sounds like ewww-air
ūn sounds like oon

Words are basically made up of one of initials I mentioned last time, and one of the finals above. And that applies to people's names as well.

Now that's quite a list, but you do get used to them pretty fast, if you spend time listening carefully to someone speaking.

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