Pinyin and Tones

Mandarin Chinese is written with characters. Since there are a lot of characters we use something called pinyin to help us learn the pronunciation of characters. We will look more at characters and how they are written in a later section, let's first learn a bit about pinyin.

Pinyin uses letters and tone symbols (explained below) to represent the pronunciations of Chinese characters.

Look at the examples below. Don't worry about the character and meaning for now. Listen to the audio paying attention to how it matches with the pinyin.

Character Pinyin Meaning
sān three
liù six


Mandarin has 4 tones.They are numbered 1 - 4, and can be recognized by their change in pitch

The tones are described as follows. Read the description and then listen to the audio and try to identify the difference between the tones. Don't worry if they all sound similar. Mandarin tones can be difficult at first.You don't need to to master them right away
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