Chinese Alphabet

Chinese Alphabet

If you're trying to learn the Chinese Alphabet which is also called Mandarin, check our courses about pronunciation, and sound of all letters... to help you with your Chinese grammar. There is no Chinese alphabet in the sense we understand it in the West. Chinese characters are not letters (with some exceptions), Chinese characters represent an idea, a concept or an object. While in the west each of the letters of our alphabet represents a sound that generally has no particular meaning. There are over 6500 characters in Chinese. Below is only some of them. Try to concentrate on the lesson and memorize the sounds. Also don't forget to check the rest of our other lessons listed on Learn Chinese. Enjoy the rest of the lesson!

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Chinese Alphabet

Learning the Chinese alphabet is very important because its structure is used in every day conversation. Without it, you will not be able to say words properly even if you know how to write those words. The better you pronounce a letter in a word, the more understood you will be in speaking the Chinese language.

Below is a table showing some Chinese characters and how it is pronounced in English.

Chinese AlphabetEnglishPinyin Pronunciation
Aēi
B
西C
D
E
艾弗Fài fú
G
艾尺Hài chǐ
Iài
Jjié
Kkāi
艾勒Lài lè
艾马Mài mǎ
艾娜Nài nà
Oó
P
吉吾Qjí wú
艾儿Rài ér
艾丝Sài sī
T
伊吾Uyī wú
Vwéi
豆贝尔维Wdòu bèi ěr wéi
艾克斯Xyī kè sī
吾艾Ywú ài
贼德Zzéi dé

Chinese has no alphabet, they use pictograms. Each word has its own pictogram. You can compare it with numbers, if you read 5, depending on what language you speak you will say five (English), quince (French), funf (German),vijf (Dutch), pito (Tagalog) etc. But you will understand that it is a collection of 5 items. In other words in writing numerals you write down the meaning, not it’s sound. And so it is in Chinese, Chinese write down the meaning not the sound. So you have to memorize the sound (pronunciation) of Chinese Characters, like you have to for numbers. This is not to difficult since Chinese words only exists out of one syllable, like wo (I 我 wǒ), ta (he 他 tā), da(big 大 dà). The only difficulty is that each syllable exists in 4 tones, first tone is a level tone (doesn’t go up nor down), second tone rises as in a question, third tone goes down and then up as if you are surprised, and the fourth tone goes down as hen you are angry.

Chinese Pronunciation

You saw how a letter is written and might be pronounced, but there is nothing better than hearing the sound of the letters in a video or audio. Below you will be able to hear how the Pinyin letters above are pronounced, just press the play button:

Chinese Pronunciation

The alphabet and its pronunciation have a very important role in Chinese, therefore they need very special attention. Once you're done with the Mandarin alphabet, you might want to check the rest of our Chinese lessons here: Learn Chinese. Don't forget to bookmark this page.


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