''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official
romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics, is the conversion of writing from a different writing system to the Roman (Latin) script, or a system for doing so. Methods of romanization include transliteration, for representing written text, and ...
system for
Standard Mandarin Chinese Standard Chinese, in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca among the speakers of various Mandarin and other varieties of Chines ...
mainland China Mainland China, also known as the Chinese mainland, China mainland, or the Mainland Area of the Republic of China is the geopolitical area under the direct jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China (PRC) since October 1, 1949. It include ...
Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbouring countries include the People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. The main island of Ta ...
(ROC), and
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, bordering the Straits ...
. It is often used to teach
Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese, in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca among the speakers of various Mandarin and other varieties of Chines ...
, which is normally written using
Chinese characters Chinese characters, also called ''Hanzi'' (), are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. They have been adapted to write other East-Asian languages, and remain a key component of the Japanese writing system where they are known ...
. The system includes four
diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph added to a letter or basic glyph. The term derives from the Ancient Greek (, "distinguishing"), from (, "to distinguish"). The word ''diacritic'' is ...
s denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell
Chinese name Chinese personal names are names used by those from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and other parts of the Chinese-speaking world through East and Southeast Asia. In addition, many names used in Korea and Vietnam are adaptations of Chinese ...
s and words in languages written with the
Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the ancient Romans to write the Latin language and its extensions used to write modern languages. Etymology The term ''Latin alphabet'' may refer to either ...
and also in certain computer
input method -based IME File:Interface of Weasel Input Method.png">Operation of an English [[-based IME An input method (or input method editor, commonly abbreviated IME) is an operating system component or program that enables users to generate characters no ...
s to enter Chinese characters. The pinyin system was developed in the 1950s by a group of Chinese linguists including [[Zhou Youguang and was based on earlier forms of [[Romanization of Chinese|romanizations of Chinese. It was published by the [[Government of China|Chinese government in 1958 and revised several times. The
International Organization for Standardization The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. Founded on 23 February 1947, the organization promotes worldwide p ...
(ISO) adopted pinyin as an
international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental organizations), such as Codex Alimentarius in food, the World Health Organization Guidelines in health, or ITU Recommendations in ICT and being publicly funded, are ...
in 1982 and was followed by the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of ...
in 1986. Attempts to make pinyin standard in Taiwan occurred in 2002 and 2009, but "Today Taiwan has no standardized spelling system" so that in 2019 "alphabetic spellings in Taiwan are marked more by a lack of system than the presence of one." Moreover, "some cities, businesses, and organizations, notably in the south of Taiwan, did not accept fforts to introduce pinyin as it suggested that Taiwan is more closely tied to the ", so it remains one of several rival romanization systems in use. The word ' () means 'the
spoken language A spoken language is a language produced by articulate sounds, as opposed to a written language. Many languages are only in written form and are not spoken. An oral language or vocal language is a language produced with the vocal tract, as opposed t ...
of the
Han people The Han Chinese,
. Huayuqiao.org. Retrieved on 2013-04-26.
Hanzu, or Han people When a foreign writing system with one set of coding/decoding system is taken to write a language, certain compromises may have to be made. The result is that the decoding systems used in some foreign languages will enable non-native speakers to produce sounds more closely resembling the target language than will the coding/decoding system used by other foreign languages. Native speakers of English will decode pinyin spellings to fairly close approximations of Mandarin except in the case of certain speech sounds that are not ordinarily produced by most native speakers of English: ''j'' , ''q'' '', x'' , ''z'' , ''c'' , ''zh'' , ''h'' and ''r'' exhibiting the greatest discrepancies. In this system, the correspondence between the Roman letter and the sound is sometimes
idiosyncratic An idiosyncrasy is an unusual feature of a person (though there are also other uses, see below). It can also mean an odd habit. The term is often used to express eccentricity or peculiarity. A synonym may be "quirk". Etymology The term "idiosyncras ...
, though not necessarily more so than the way the Latin script is employed in other languages. For example, the aspiration distinction between ''b'', ''d'', ''g'' and ''p'', ''t'', ''k'' is similar to that of these syllable-initial consonants English (in which the two sets are however also differentiated by voicing), but not to that of French. Letters ''z'' and ''c'' also have that distinction, pronounced as and (which is reminiscent of these letters being used to represent the phoneme in the German language and Latin-script-using
Slavic languages The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo-European languages spoken primarily by the Slavic peoples or their descendants. They are thought to descend from a proto-language called Proto-Slavic, spoken during the Early ...
, respectively). From ''s, z, c'' come the
digraphs Digraph may refer to: * Digraph (orthography), a pair of characters used together to represent a single sound, such as "sh" in English * Orthographic ligature, the joining of two letters as a single glyph, such as "æ" * Digraph (computing), a grou ...
''sh, zh, ch'' by analogy with English '' sh, ch''. Although this introduces the novel combination ''zh'', it is internally consistent in how the two series are related. In the ''x, j, q'' series, the pinyin use of ''x'' is similar to its use in Portuguese, Galician, Catalan, Basque and Maltese and the pinyin ''q'' is akin to its value in Albanian; both pinyin and Albanian pronunciations may sound similar to the ''ch'' to the untrained ear. Pinyin
vowels A vowel is a syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in quality, in loudness and also in quantity (length ...
are pronounced in a similar way to vowels in
Romance languages The Romance languages (less commonly Latin languages, or Neo-Latin languages) are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries. They are a subgroup of the Italic languages in the Indo-European langua ...

Romance languages
. The pronunciation and spelling of Chinese words are generally given in terms of
initials In a written or published work, an initial or drop cap is a letter at the beginning of a word, a chapter, or a paragraph that is larger than the rest of the text. The word is derived from the Latin ''initialis'', which means ''standing at the begi ...
finals Final, Finals or The Final may refer to: *Final (competition), the last or championship round of a sporting competition, match, game, or other contest which decides a winner for an event ** Another term for playoffs, describing a sequence of conte ...
, which represent the ''segmental phonemic'' portion of the language, rather than letter by letter. Initials are initial consonants, while finals are all possible combinations of medials (
semivowel In phonetics and phonology, a semivowel or glide is a sound that is phonetically similar to a vowel sound but functions as the syllable boundary, rather than as the nucleus of a syllable. Examples of semivowels in English are the consonants ''y'' ...
s coming before the vowel), a
nucleus ''Nucleus'' (plural nuclei) is a Latin word for the seed inside a fruit. It most often refers to: *Atomic nucleus, the very dense central region of an atom *Cell nucleus, a central organelle of a eukaryotic cell, containing most of the cell's DNA ...
vowel and
coda Coda or CODA may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Films * ''Coda'' (1987 film), an Australian horror film about a serial killer, made for television * ''Coda'' (2019 film), a Canadian drama film starring Patrick Stewart, Katie Holmes, and ...
(final vowel or consonant).


Background: romanization of Chinese before 1949

In 1605, the
Jesuit The Society of Jesus (SJ; la|Societas Iesu) is a religious order of the Catholic Church headquartered in Rome. It was founded by Ignatius of Loyola and six companions with the approval of Pope Paul III in 1540. The members are called Jesuits ...
Matteo Ricci Matteo Ricci (; la|Mattheus Riccius Maceratensis; 6 October 1552 – 11 May 1610), was an Italian Jesuit priest and one of the founding figures of the Jesuit China missions. He created the Kunyu Wanguo Quantu, a 1602 map of the world writte ...
published ''Xizi Qiji'' () in Beijing. This was the first book to use the Roman alphabet to write the Chinese language. Twenty years later, another Jesuit in China,
Nicolas Trigault Nicolas Trigault (1577–1628) was a Jesuit, and a missionary in China. He was also known by his latinised name Nicolaus Trigautius or Trigaultius, and his Chinese name Jin Nige (). Life and work Born in Douai (then part of the County of Flanders i ...
, issued his ' () at Hangzhou. Neither book had much immediate impact on the way in which Chinese thought about their writing system, and the romanizations they described were intended more for Westerners than for the Chinese. One of the earliest Chinese thinkers to relate Western alphabets to Chinese was late Ming to early Qing dynasty
scholar-official 220px|A 15th-century portrait of the Ming official egrets on his chest are a "[[mandarin square">Egret (bird)">egrets on his chest are a "[[mandarin square", indicating that he was a civil official of the sixth rank. Scholar-officials, also known ...
, [[Fang Yizhi (; 1611–1671). The first late Qing reformer to propose that China adopt a system of spelling was Song Shu (1862–1910). A student of the great scholars [[Yu Yue and [[Zhang Taiyan, Song had been to Japan and observed the stunning effect of the ''
kana The are syllabaries used to write Japanese phonological units, morae. Such syllabaries include: (1) the original kana, or , which were Chinese characters (kanji) used phonetically to transcribe Japanese; the most prominent magana system being ...

'' syllabaries and Western learning there. This galvanized him into activity on a number of fronts, one of the most important being reform of the script. While Song did not himself actually create a system for spelling Sinitic languages, his discussion proved fertile and led to a proliferation of schemes for phonetic scripts.


The Wade–Giles system was produced by Thomas Wade in 1859, and further improved by
Herbert Giles Herbert Allen Giles (, 8 December 184513 February 1935) was a British diplomat and sinologist who was the professor of Chinese at the University of Cambridge for 35 years. Giles was educated at Charterhouse School before becoming a British dipl ...
in the Chinese–English Dictionary of 1892. It was popular and used in English-language publications outside China until 1979.

Sin Wenz

In the early 1930s,
Communist Party of China The Communist Party of China (CPC), commonly known as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is the founding and sole governing political party of the People's Republic of China (PRC). The CCP leads eight other legally permitted subordinate minor p ...
leaders trained in Moscow introduced a phonetic alphabet using Roman letters which had been developed in the Soviet Oriental Institute of Leningrad and was originally intended to improve literacy in the
Russian Far East Koryaksky volcano in Kamchatka The Russian Far East ( rus|Дальний Восток России|r=Dal'niy Vostok Rossii|p=ˈdalʲnʲɪj vɐˈstok rɐˈsʲiɪ, literally: "The Far East of Russia") is a region in North Asia which includes the F ...
. This Sin Wenz or "New Writing" was much more linguistically sophisticated than earlier alphabets, but with the major exception that it did not indicate tones of Chinese. In 1940, several thousand members attended a Border Region Sin Wenz Society convention.
Mao Zedong Mao Zedong (; pronounced , (formerly romanized as Mao Tse-tung), December 26, 1893September 9, 1976), also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who was the founder of the People's Republic of China (PRC), which he ru ...

Mao Zedong
Zhu De Zhu De (; also Chu Teh; 1 December 1886 – 6 July 1976) was a Chinese general, warlord, politician, revolutionary of the Chinese Communist Party. Born poor in 1886 in Sichuan, he was adopted by a wealthy uncle at age nine. His wealthy uncl ...

Zhu De
, head of the army, both contributed their calligraphy (in characters) for the masthead of the Sin Wenz Society's new journal. Outside the CCP, other prominent supporters included Dr. [[Sun Yat-sen's son, [[Sun Fo; [[Cai Yuanpei, the country's most prestigious educator; [[Tao Xingzhi, a leading educational reformer; and [[Lu Xun. Over thirty journals soon appeared written in Sin Wenz, plus large numbers of translations, biographies (including Lincoln, Franklin, [[Thomas Edison|Edison, Ford, and [[Charlie Chaplin), some contemporary Chinese literature, and a spectrum of textbooks. In 1940, the movement reached an apex when Mao's Border Region Government declared that the Sin Wenz had the same legal status as traditional characters in government and public documents. Many educators and political leaders looked forward to the day when they would be universally accepted and completely replace Chinese characters. Opposition arose, however, because the system was less well adapted to writing regional languages, and therefore would require learning [[Mandarin Chinese|Mandarin. Sin Wenz fell into relative disuse during the following years.

Yale romanization

In 1943, the U.S. military engaged [[Yale University to develop a romanization of [[Mandarin Chinese for its pilots flying over China. The resulting system is very close to ''pinyin'', but does not use English letters in unfamiliar ways; for example, ''pinyin'' x for is written as sy in the Yale system. Medial
semivowel In phonetics and phonology, a semivowel or glide is a sound that is phonetically similar to a vowel sound but functions as the syllable boundary, rather than as the nucleus of a syllable. Examples of semivowels in English are the consonants ''y'' ...
s are written with y and w (instead of ''pinyin'' i and u), and apical vowels ([[syllabic consonants) with r or z. Accent marks are used to indicate tone.

Emergence and history of Hanyu Pinyin

Pinyin was created by Chinese linguists, like [[Zhou Youguang who was an economist, as part of a Chinese government project in the 1950s. Zhou, often called "the father of pinyin," worked as a banker in [[New York City|New York when he decided to return to China to help rebuild the country after the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949. He became an economics professor in [[Shanghai, and in 1955, when [[Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China|China's Ministry of Education created a Committee for the Reform of the Chinese Written Language, Premier [[Zhou Enlai assigned Zhou Youguang the task of developing a new romanization system, despite the fact that he was not a professional linguist. ''Hanyu Pinyin'' was based on several existing systems: ''[[Gwoyeu Romatzyh'' of 1928, ''[[Latinxua Sin Wenz'' of 1931, and the [[diacritic|diacritic markings from ''[[zhuyin'' (bopomofo). "I'm not the father of pinyin," Zhou said years later; "I'm the son of pinyin. It's [the result of] a long tradition from the later years of the Qing dynasty down to today. But we restudied the problem and revisited it and made it more perfect." A draft was published on February 12, 1956. The first edition of ''Hanyu Pinyin'' was approved and adopted at the Fifth Session of the [[1st National People's Congress on February 11, 1958. It was then introduced to primary schools as a way to teach [[Standard Chinese pronunciation and used to improve the literacy rate among adults. During the height of the [[Cold War, the use of pinyin system over the [[Yale romanization of Mandarin|Yale romanization outside of China was regarded as a political statement or identification with the communist Chinese regime. Beginning in the early 1980s, Western publications addressing [[Mainland China began using the Hanyu Pinyin romanization system instead of earlier romanization systems; this change followed the [[Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations|normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and the PRC in 1979. In 2001, the PRC Government issued the ''National Common Language Law'', providing a legal basis for applying pinyin. The current specification of the orthographic rules is laid down in the National Standard GB/T 16159–2012.

Initials and finals

Unlike European languages, clusters of letters — initials () and finals () — and not consonant and vowel letters, form the fundamental elements in pinyin (and most other phonetic systems used to describe the Han language). Every Mandarin syllable can be spelled with exactly one initial followed by one final, except for the special syllable ''er'' or when a trailing ''-r'' is considered part of a syllable (see below, and see [[erhua). The latter case, though a common practice in some sub-dialects, is rarely used in official publications. Even though most initials contain a consonant, finals are not always simple vowels, especially in compound finals (), i.e. when a "medial" is placed in front of the final. For example, the medials and are pronounced with such tight openings at the beginning of a final that some native Chinese speakers (especially when singing) pronounce ''yī'' (, clothes, officially pronounced ) as and ''wéi'' (, to enclose, officially pronounced ) as or . Often these medials are treated as separate from the finals rather than as part of them; this convention is followed in the chart of finals below.


In each cell below, the bold letters indicate pinyin and the brackets enclose the symbol in the [[International Phonetic Alphabet. 1 ''y'' is pronounced (a [[labial-palatal approximant) before ''u''.
2 The letters ''w'' and ''y'' are not included in the table of initials in the official pinyin system. They are an orthographic convention for the medials ''i, u'' and ''ü'' when no initial is present. When ''i, u'', or ''ü'' are finals and no initial is present, they are spelled ''yi'', ''wu'', and ''yu'', respectively. The conventional [[lexicographical order (excluding ''w'' and ''y''), derived from the [[Bopomofo|zhuyin system ("bopomofo"), is: : According to ''Scheme for the Chinese Phonetic Alphabet'', ''zh'', ''ch'', and ''sh'' can be abbreviated as ''ẑ'', ''ĉ'', and ''ŝ'' (''z'', ''c'', ''s'' with a [[circumflex). However, the shorthands are rarely used due to difficulty of entering them on computers and are confined mainly to [[Esperanto keyboard layouts.


In each cell below, the first line indicates [[International Phonetic Alphabet|IPA, the second indicates pinyin for a standalone (no-initial) form, and the third indicates pinyin for a combination with an initial. Other than finals modified by an ''-r'', which are omitted, the following is an exhaustive table of all possible finals.1 The only syllable-final consonants in Standard Chinese are ''-n'' and ''-ng'', and ''-r'', the last of which is attached as a grammatical [[suffix. A Chinese syllable ending with any other consonant either is from a non-Mandarin language (a southern Chinese language such as [[Cantonese, or a minority language of China; possibly reflecting [[Old Chinese phonology#Tones and final consonants|final consonants in Old Chinese), or indicates the use of a non-pinyin romanization system (where final consonants may be used to indicate tones). 1 is written ''er''. For other finals formed by the suffix ''-r'', pinyin does not use special orthography; one simply appends ''r'' to the final that it is added to, without regard for any sound changes that may take place along the way. For information on sound changes related to final ''r'', please see [[Erhua#Rules.
2 ''ü'' is written as ''u'' after ''y, j, q'', or ''x''.
3 ''uo'' is written as ''o'' after ''b, p, m, f,'' or ''w''. Technically, ''i, u, ü'' without a following vowel are finals, not medials, and therefore take the tone marks, but they are more concisely displayed as above. In addition, ''ê'' () and syllabic nasals ''m'' (, ), ''n'' (, ), ''ng'' (, ) are used as [[interjections. According to ''Scheme for the Chinese Phonetic Alphabet'', ''ng'' can be abbreviated with a shorthand of ''[[ŋ''. However, this shorthand is rarely used due to difficulty of entering them on computers.

The ''ü'' sound

An [[Diaeresis (diacritic)|umlaut is placed over the letter ''u'' when it occurs after the initials ''l'' and ''n'' when necessary in order to represent the sound [y]. This is necessary in order to distinguish the front high rounded vowel in ''lü'' (e.g. ) from the back high rounded vowel in ''lu'' (e.g. ). Tonal markers are added on top of the umlaut, as in ''lǘ''. However, the ''ü'' is ''not'' used in the other contexts where it could represent a front high rounded vowel, namely after the letters ''j'', ''q'', ''x'', and ''y''. For example, the sound of the word / (fish) is transcribed in pinyin simply as ''yú'', not as ''yǘ''. This practice is opposed to [[Wade–Giles, which always uses ''ü'', and ''[[Tongyong Pinyin'', which always uses ''yu''. Whereas Wade–Giles needs the umlaut to distinguish between ''chü'' (pinyin ''ju'') and ''chu'' (pinyin ''zhu''), this ambiguity does not arise with pinyin, so the more convenient form ''ju'' is used instead of ''jü''. Genuine ambiguities only happen with ''nu''/''nü'' and ''lu''/''lü'', which are then distinguished by an umlaut. Many fonts or output methods do not support an umlaut for ''ü'' or cannot place tone marks on top of ''ü''. Likewise, using ''ü'' in input methods is difficult because it is not present as a simple key on many keyboard layouts. For these reasons ''v'' is sometimes used instead by convention. For example, it is common for cellphones to use ''v'' instead of ''ü''. Additionally, some stores in China use ''v'' instead of ''ü'' in the transliteration of their names. The drawback is that there are no tone marks for the letter ''v''. This also presents a problem in transcribing names for use on passports, affecting people with names that consist of the sound ''lü'' or ''nü'', particularly people with the surname (''[[Lü (surname)|Lǚ''), a fairly common surname, particularly compared to the surnames ([[Lu (surname 陆)|Lù), ([[Lu (surname 鲁)|Lǔ), ([[Lu (surname 卢)|Lú) and ([[Lu (surname 路)|Lù). Previously, the practice varied among different passport issuing offices, with some transcribing as "LV" and "NV" while others used "LU" and "NU". On 10 July 2012, the [[Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China|Ministry of Public Security standardized the practice to use "LYU" and "NYU" in passports. Although ''nüe'' written as ''nue'', and ''lüe'' written as ''lue'' are not ambiguous, ''nue'' or ''lue'' are not correct according to the rules; ''nüe'' and ''lüe'' should be used instead. However, some Chinese input methods (e.g. [[Microsoft Pinyin IME) support both ''nve''/''lve'' (typing ''v'' for ''ü'') and ''nue''/''lue''.

Approximation from English pronunciation

Most rules given here in terms of English pronunciation are approximations, as several of these sounds do not correspond directly to sounds in English.

Pronunciation of initials

;* Note on ''y'' and ''w'': ''Y'' and ''w'' are equivalent to the
semivowel In phonetics and phonology, a semivowel or glide is a sound that is phonetically similar to a vowel sound but functions as the syllable boundary, rather than as the nucleus of a syllable. Examples of semivowels in English are the consonants ''y'' ...
medials ''i, u'', and ''ü'' (see below). They are spelled differently when there is no initial consonant in order to mark a new syllable: ''fanguan'' is ''fan-guan'', while ''fangwan'' is ''fang-wan'' (and equivalent to ''*fang-uan)''. With this convention, an apostrophe only needs to be used to mark an initial ''a, e'', or ''o: Xi'an'' (two syllables: ) vs. ''xian'' (one syllable: ). In addition, ''y'' and ''w'' are added to fully vocalic ''i, u'', and ''ü'' when these occur without an initial consonant, so that they are written ''yi, wu'', and ''yu''. Some Mandarin speakers do pronounce a or sound at the beginning of such words—that is, ''yi'' or , ''wu'' or , ''yu'' or ,—so this is an intuitive convention. See below for a few finals which are abbreviated after a consonant plus ''w/u'' or ''y/i'' medial: ''wen'' → C+''un'', ''wei'' → C+''ui'', ''weng'' → C+''ong'', and ''you'' → C+''iu''. ;** Note on the apostrophe: The [[apostrophe (') () is used before a syllable starting with a vowel (, , or ) in a multiple-syllable word when the syllable does not start the word, unless the syllable immediately follows a [[hyphen or other dash. For example, is written as [[Xi'an or Xī'ān, and is written as [[Tian'e County|Tian'e or Tiān'é, but is written "dì-èr", without an apostrophe. This apostrophe is not used in the [[Taipei Metro names. Apostrophes (as well as hyphens and tone marks) are omitted on [[Chinese passports.

Pronunciation of finals

The following is a list of finals in Standard Chinese, excepting most of those ending with ''r''. To find a given final: #Remove the initial consonant. ''Zh'', ''ch'', and ''sh'' count as initial consonants. #Change initial ''w'' to ''u'' and initial ''y'' to ''i''. For ''weng'', ''wen'', ''wei'', ''you'', look under ''ong'', ''un'', ''ui'', ''iu''. #For ''u'' after ''j'', ''q'', ''x'', or ''y'', look under ''ü''.


The pinyin system also uses
diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph added to a letter or basic glyph. The term derives from the Ancient Greek (, "distinguishing"), from (, "to distinguish"). The word ''diacritic'' is ...
s to mark the four [[tones of Mandarin. The diacritic is placed over the letter that represents the [[syllable nucleus, unless that letter is missing ([[#Rules for placing the tone mark|see below). Many books printed in China use a mix of fonts, with vowels and tone marks rendered in a different font from the surrounding text, tending to give such pinyin texts a typographically ungainly appearance. This style, most likely rooted in early technical limitations, has led many to believe that pinyin's rules call for this practice, e.g. the use of a [[Latin alpha (ɑ) rather than the standard style (a) found in most fonts, or g often written with a [[Single-story g|single-storey ɡ. The rules of ''Hanyu Pinyin'', however, specify no such practice. # The first tone (flat or high-level tone) is represented by a [[Macron (diacritic)|macron (ˉ) added to the pinyin vowel: #:ā ē ī ō ū ǖ Ā Ē Ī Ō Ū Ǖ # The second tone (rising or high-rising tone) is denoted by an [[acute accent (ˊ): #:á é í ó ú ǘ Á É Í Ó Ú Ǘ # The third tone (falling-rising or low tone) is marked by a [[caron/háček (ˇ). It is not the rounded [[breve (˘), though a breve is sometimes substituted due to ignorance or font limitations. #:ǎ ě ǐ ǒ ǔ ǚ Ǎ Ě Ǐ Ǒ Ǔ Ǚ # The fourth tone (falling or high-falling tone) is represented by a [[grave accent (ˋ): #:à è ì ò ù ǜ À È Ì Ò Ù Ǜ # The fifth tone (neutral tone) is represented by a normal vowel without any accent mark: #:a e i o u ü A E I O U Ü ::In dictionaries, neutral tone may be indicated by a dot preceding the syllable; for example, ''·ma''. When a neutral tone syllable has an alternative pronunciation in another tone, a combination of tone marks may be used: ''zhī·dào'' (). These tone marks normally are only used in Mandarin textbooks or in foreign learning texts, but they are essential for correct pronunciation of Mandarin syllables, as exemplified by the following classic example of five characters whose pronunciations differ only in their tones: The words are "mother", "hemp", "horse", "scold", and a [[Interrogative word|question particle, respectively.

Numerals in place of tone marks

Before the advent of computers, many typewriter fonts did not contain vowels with [[Macron (diacritic)|macron or [[caron diacritics. Tones were thus represented by placing a [[tone number at the end of individual syllables. For example, ''tóng'' is written ''tong²''. The number used for each tone is as the order listed above, except the neutral tone, which is either not numbered, or given the number 0 or 5, e.g. ''ma⁵'' for /, an [[interrogative marker.

Rules for placing the tone mark

Briefly, the tone mark should always be placed by the order—''a, o, e, i, u, ü'', with the only exception being ''iu'', where the tone mark is placed on the ''u'' instead. Pinyin tone marks appear primarily above the [[syllable nucleus|nucleus of the syllable, for example as in ''kuài'', where ''k'' is the initial, ''u'' the medial, ''a'' the nucleus, and ''i'' the coda. The exception is syllabic nasals like /m/, where the nucleus of the syllable is a consonant, the diacritic will be carried by a written dummy vowel. When the nucleus is /ə/ (written ''e'' or ''o''), and there is both a medial and a coda, the nucleus may be dropped from writing. In this case, when the coda is a consonant ''n'' or ''ng'', the only vowel left is the medial ''i, u'', or ''ü'', and so this takes the diacritic. However, when the coda is a vowel, it is the coda rather than the medial which takes the diacritic in the absence of a written nucleus. This occurs with syllables ending in ''-ui'' (from ''wei'': (''wèi'' → ''-uì'') and in ''-iu'' (from ''you'': ''yòu'' → ''-iù''.) That is, in the absence of a written nucleus the finals have priority for receiving the tone marker, as long as they are vowels: if not, the medial takes the diacritic. An algorithm to find the correct vowel letter (when there is more than one) is as follows: # If there is an ''a'' or an ''e'', it will take the tone mark # If there is an ''ou'', then the ''o'' takes the tone mark # Otherwise, the second vowel takes the tone mark Worded differently, # If there is an ''a, e'', or ''o'', it will take the tone mark; in the case of ''ao'', the mark goes on the ''a'' # Otherwise, the vowels are ''-iu'' or ''-ui'', in which case the second vowel takes the tone mark If the tone is written over an ''i'', the [[tittle above the ''i'' is omitted, as in ''yī''.

Phonological intuition

The placement of the tone marker, when more than one of the written letters ''a, e, i, o'', and ''u'' appears, can also be inferred from the nature of the vowel sound in the medial and final. The rule is that the tone marker goes on the spelled vowel that is not a (near-)semi-vowel. The exception is that, for triphthongs that are spelled with only two vowel letters, both of which are the semi-vowels, the tone marker goes on the second spelled vowel. Specifically, if the spelling of a [[diphthong begins with ''i'' (as in ''ia'') or ''u'' (as in ''ua''), which serves as a near-[[semi-vowel, this letter does not take the tone marker. Likewise, if the spelling of a diphthong ends with ''o'' or ''u'' representing a near-semi-vowel (as in ''ao'' or ''ou''), this letter does not receive a tone marker. In a [[triphthong spelled with three of ''a, e, i, o'', and ''u'' (with ''i'' or ''u'' replaced by ''y'' or ''w'' at the start of a syllable), the first and third letters coincide with near-semi-vowels and hence do not receive the tone marker (as in ''iao'' or ''uai'' or ''iou''). But if no letter is written to represent a triphthong's middle (non-semi-vowel) sound (as in ''ui'' or ''iu''), then the tone marker goes on the final (second) vowel letter.

Using tone colors

In addition to [[tone number and mark, tone color has been suggested as a visual aid for learning. Although there are no formal standards, there are a number of different color schemes in use, Dummitt's being one of the first.

Third tone exceptions

In spoken Chinese, the third tone is often pronounced as a "half third tone", in which the pitch does not rise. Additionally, when two third tones appear consecutively, such as in (''nǐhǎo'', hello), the first syllable is pronounced with the second tone — this is called [[Tone sandhi in Standard Chinese|tone sandhi. In pinyin, words like "hello" are still written with two third tones (''nǐhǎo'').

Orthographic rules


The ''Scheme for the Chinese Phonetic Alphabet'' lists the letters of pinyin, along with their pronunciations, as: Pinyin differs from other romanizations in several aspects, such as the following: *Syllables starting with ''u'' are written as ''w'' in place of ''u'' (e.g., *''uan'' is written as ''wan''). Standalone ''u'' is written as ''wu''. *Syllables starting with ''i'' are written as ''y'' in place of ''i'' (e.g., *''ian'' is written as ''yan''). Standalone ''i'' is written as ''yi''. *Syllables starting with ''ü'' are written as ''yu'' in place of ''ü'' (e.g., *''üe'' is written as ''yue''). Standalone ''ü'' is written as ''yu''. *''ü'' is written as ''u'' when there is no ambiguity (such as ''ju'', ''qu'', and ''xu'') but as ''ü'' when there are corresponding ''u'' syllables (such as ''lü'' and ''nü''). If there are corresponding ''u'' syllables, it is often replaced with ''v'' on a computer to make it easier to type on a standard keyboard. *After by a consonant, ''iou'', ''uei'', and ''uen'' are simplified as ''iu'', ''ui'', and ''un'', which do not represent the actual pronunciation. *As in zhuyin, syllables that are actually pronounced as ''buo'', ''puo'', ''muo'', and ''fuo'' are given a separate representation: ''bo'', ''po'', ''mo'', and ''fo''. *The [[apostrophe (') is used before a syllable starting with a vowel (''a'', ''o'', or ''e'') in a syllable other than the first of a word, the syllable being most commonly realized as unless it immediately follows a [[hyphen or other dash. That is done to remove ambiguity that could arise, as in ''[[Xi'an'', which consists of the two syllables ''xi'' () ''an'' (), compared to such words as ''xian'' (). (The ambiguity does not occur when tone marks are used since both tone marks in "Xīān" unambiguously show that the word has two syllables. However, even with tone marks, the city is usually spelled with an apostrophe as "Xī'ān".) *''Eh'' alone is written as ''ê''; elsewhere as ''e''. [[Schwa is always written as ''e''. *''Zh'', ''ch'', and ''sh'' can be abbreviated as ''ẑ'', ''ĉ'', and ''ŝ'' (''z'', ''c'', ''s'' with a [[circumflex). However, the shorthands are rarely used because of the difficulty of entering them on computers and are confined mainly to [[Esperanto keyboard layouts. Early drafts and some published material used [[palatal hook|diacritic hooks below instead: ' (''/''), ', ' ('). *''Ng'' has the uncommon shorthand of ''[[ŋ'', which was also used in early drafts. * Early drafts also contained the letter ''[[ɥ'' or ''[[ч'', borrowed from the [[Cyrillic script, in place of later ''j''. *The letter ''v'' is unused, except in spelling foreign languages, languages of minority nationalities, and some dialects, despite a conscious effort to distribute letters more evenly than in Western languages. However, the ease of typing into a computer causes the ''v'' to be sometimes used to replace ''ü''. (The ''Scheme'' table above maps the letter to bopomofo ㄪ, which typically maps to .) Most of the above are used to avoid ambiguity when words of more than one syllable are written in pinyin. For example, ''uenian'' is written as ''wenyan'' because it is not clear which syllables make up ''uenian''; ''uen-ian'', ''uen-i-an'', ''u-en-i-an'', ''u-e-nian'', and ''u-e-ni-an'' are all possible combinations, but ''wenyan'' is unambiguous since ''we'', ''nya'', etc. do not exist in pinyin. See the [[pinyin table article for a summary of possible pinyin syllables (not including tones).

Words, capitalization, initialisms and punctuation

Although Chinese characters represent single [[syllables, Mandarin Chinese is a [[polysyllabic language. Spacing in pinyin is usually based on words, and not on single syllables. However, there are often ambiguities in partitioning a word. ''The Basic Rules of the Chinese Phonetic Alphabet Orthography'' () were put into effect in 1988 by the National Educational Commission () and the National Language Commission (). These rules became a [[Guobiao|Guóbiāo recommendation in 1996 and were updated in 2012. #General ##Single meaning: Words with a single meaning, which are usually set up of two characters (sometimes one, seldom three), are written together and not capitalized: ''rén'' (, person); ''péngyou'' (, friend); ''qiǎokèlì'' (, chocolate) ##Combined meaning (2 or 3 characters): Same goes for words combined of two words to one meaning: ''hǎifēng'' (, sea breeze); ''wèndá'' (, question and answer); ''quánguó'' (, nationwide); ''chángyòngcí'' (, common words) ##Combined meaning (4 or more characters): Words with four or more characters having one meaning are split up with their original meaning if possible: ''wúfèng gāngguǎn'' (, seamless steel-tube); ''huánjìng bǎohù guīhuà'' (, environmental protection planning); ''gāoměngsuānjiǎ'' (, potassium permanganate) #Duplicated words ##AA: Duplicated characters (AA) are written together: ''rénrén'' (, everybody), ''kànkan'' (, to have a look), ''niánnián'' (, every year) ##ABAB: Two characters duplicated (ABAB) are written separated: ''yánjiū yánjiū'' (, to study, to research), ''xuěbái xuěbái'' (, white as snow) ##AABB: Characters in the AABB schema are written together: ''láiláiwǎngwǎng'' (, come and go), ''qiānqiānwànwàn'' (, numerous) #Prefixes () and Suffixes (): Words accompanied by prefixes such as ''fù'' (, vice), ''zǒng'' (, chief), ''fēi'' (, non-), ''fǎn'' (, anti-), ''chāo'' (, ultra-), ''lǎo'' (, old), ''ā'' (, used before names to indicate familiarity), ''kě'' (, -able), ''wú'' (, -less) and ''bàn'' (, semi-) and suffixes such as ''zi'' (, noun suffix), ''r'' (, diminutive suffix), ''tou'' (, noun suffix), ''xìng'' (, -ness, -ity), ''zhě'' (, -er, -ist), ''yuán'' (, person), ''jiā'' (, -er, -ist), ''shǒu'' (, person skilled in a field), ''huà'' (, -ize) and ''men'' (, plural marker) are written together: ''fùbùzhǎng'' (, vice minister), ''chéngwùyuán'' (, conductor), ''háizimen'' (, children) #Nouns and names () ##Words of position are separated: ''mén wài'' (, outdoor), ''hé li'' (, under the river), ''huǒchē shàngmian'' (, on the train), ''Huáng Hé yǐnán'' (, south of the Yellow River) ###Exceptions are words traditionally connected: ''tiānshang'' (, in the sky or outerspace), ''dìxia'' (, on the ground), ''kōngzhōng'' (, in the air), ''hǎiwài'' (, overseas) ##Surnames are separated from the given names, each capitalized: ''Lǐ Huá'' (), ''Zhāng Sān'' (). If the surname and/or given name consists of two syllables, it should be written as one: ''Zhūgě Kǒngmíng'' (). ##Titles following the name are separated and are not capitalized: ''Wáng bùzhǎng'' (, Minister Wang), ''Lǐ xiānsheng'' (, Mr. Li), ''Tián zhǔrèn'' (, Director Tian), ''Zhào tóngzhì'' (, Comrade Zhao). ##The forms of addressing people with prefixes such as ''Lǎo'' (), ''Xiǎo'' (), ''Dà'' () and ''Ā'' () are capitalized: ''Xiǎo Liú'' (, [young] Ms./Mr. Liu), ''Dà Lǐ'' (, [great; elder] Mr. Li), ''Ā Sān'' (, Ah San), ''Lǎo Qián'' (, [senior] Mr. [[Qian (disambiguation)|Qian), ''Lǎo Wú'' (, [senior] Mr. Wu) ###Exceptions include ''Kǒngzǐ'' (, [[Confucius), ''Bāogōng'' (, [[Bao Zheng|Judge Bao), ''Xīshī'' (, [[Xi Shi|Xishi), ''Mèngchángjūn'' (, [[Lord Mengchang) ##Geographical names of China: ''Běijīng Shì'' (, city of [[Beijing), ''Héběi Shěng'' (, province of [[Hebei), ''Yālù Jiāng'' (, [[Yalu River), ''Tài Shān'' (, [[Mount Tai), ''Dòngtíng Hú'' (, [[Dongting Lake), ''Qióngzhōu Hǎixiá'' (, [[Qiongzhou Strait) ###Monosyllabic prefixes and suffixes are written together with their related part: ''Dōngsì Shítiáo'' (, Dongsi 10th Alley) ###Common geographical nouns that have become part of proper nouns are written together: ''Hēilóngjiāng'' (, [[Heilongjiang) ##Non-Chinese names are written in Hanyu Pinyin: ''Āpèi Āwàngjìnměi'' (, [[Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme); ''Dōngjīng'' (, [[Tokyo) #Verbs (): Verbs and their suffixes ''-zhe'' (), ''-le'' () or ''-guo'' (() are written as one: ''kànzhe'' (, seeing), ''jìnxíngguo'' (, have been implemented). ''Le'' as it appears in the end of a sentence is separated though: ''Huǒchē dào le.'' (, The train [has] arrived). ##Verbs and their objects are separated: ''kàn xìn'' (, read a letter), ''chī yú'' (, eat fish), ''kāi wánxiào'' (, to be kidding). ##If verbs and their complements are each monosyllabic, they are written together; if not, they are separated: ''gǎohuài'' (, to make broken), ''dǎsǐ'' (, hit to death), ''huàwéi'' (, to become), ''zhěnglǐ hǎo'' (, to sort out), ''gǎixiě wéi'' (, to rewrite as) #Adjectives (): A monosyllabic adjective and its reduplication are written as one: ''mēngmēngliàng'' (, dim), ''liàngtángtáng'' (, shining bright) ##[[Complement (linguistics)|Complements of size or degree such as ''xiē'' (), ''yīxiē'' (), ''diǎnr'' () and ''yīdiǎnr'' () are written separated: ''dà xiē'' (), a little bigger), ''kuài yīdiǎnr'' (, a bit faster) #Pronouns () ##Personal pronouns and interrogative pronouns are separated from other words: ''Wǒ ài Zhōngguó.'' (, I love China); ''Shéi shuō de?'' (, Who said it?) ##The demonstrative pronoun ''zhè'' (, this), ''nà'' (, that) and the question pronoun ''nǎ'' (, which) are separated: ''zhè rén'' (, this person), ''nà cì huìyì'' (, that meeting), ''nǎ zhāng bàozhǐ'' (, which newspaper) ###Exception—If ''zhè'', ''nà'' or ''nǎ'' are followed by ''diǎnr'' (), ''bān'' (), ''biān'' (), ''shí'' (), ''huìr'' (), ''lǐ'' (), ''me'' () or the general classifier ''ge'' (), they are written together: ''nàlǐ'' (, there), ''zhèbiān'' (, over here), ''zhège'' (, this) #Numerals () and measure words () ##Numbers and words like ''gè'' (, each), ''měi'' (, each), ''mǒu'' (, any), ''běn'' (, this), ''gāi'' (, that), ''wǒ'' (, my, our) and ''nǐ'' (, your) are separated from the measure words following them: ''liǎng gè rén'' (, two people), ''gè guó'' (, every nation), ''měi nián'' (, every year), ''mǒu gōngchǎng'' (, a certain factory), ''wǒ xiào'' (, our school) ##Numbers up to 100 are written as single words: ''sānshísān'' (, thirty-three). Above that, the hundreds, thousands, etc. are written as separate words: ''jiǔyì qīwàn èrqiān sānbǎi wǔshíliù'' (, nine hundred million, seventy-two thousand, three hundred fifty-six). Arabic numerals are kept as Arabic numerals: ''635 fēnjī'' (, extension 635) ##According to, the ''dì'' () used in [[ordinal numerals is followed by a hyphen: ''dì-yī'' (, first), ''dì-356'' (, 356th). The hyphen should not be used if the word in which ''dì'' () and the numeral appear does not refer to an ordinal number in the context. For example: ''Dìwǔ'' (, a [[Chinese compound surname). The ''chū'' () in front of numbers one to ten is written together with the number: ''chūshí'' (, tenth day) ##Numbers representing month and day are hyphenated: ''wǔ-sì'' (, [[May Fourth Movement|May fourth), ''yīèr-jiǔ'' (, [[December 9th Movement|December ninth) ##Words of approximations such as ''duō'' (), ''lái'' () and ''jǐ'' () are separated from numerals and measure words: ''yībǎi duō gè'' (, around a hundred); ''shí lái wàn gè'' (, around a hundred thousand); ''jǐ jiā rén'' (, a few families) ###''Shíjǐ'' (, more than ten) and ''jǐshí'' (, tens) are written together: ''shíjǐ gè rén'' (, more than ten people); ''jǐshí'' (, tens of steel pipes) ##Approximations with numbers or units that are close together are hyphenated: ''sān-wǔ tiān'' (, three to five days), ''qiān-bǎi cì'' (, thousands of times) #Other function words () are separated from other words ##Adverbs (): ''hěn hǎo'' (, very good), ''zuì kuài'' (, fastest), ''fēicháng dà'' (, extremely big) ##Prepositions (): ''zài qiánmiàn'' (, in front) ##Conjunctions (): ''nǐ hé wǒ'' (, you and I/me), ''Nǐ lái háishi bù lái?'' (, Are you coming or not?) ##"Constructive auxiliaries" () such as ''de'' (), ''zhī'' () and ''suǒ'' (): ''mànmàn de zou'' (), go slowly) ###A monosyllabic word can also be written together with ''de'' (): ''wǒ de shū'' / ''wǒde shū'' (, my book) ##Modal auxiliaries at the end of a sentence: ''Nǐ zhīdào ma?'' (, Do you know?), ''Kuài qù ba!'' (, Go quickly!) ##Exclamations and interjections: ''À! Zhēn měi!'' (), Oh, it's so beautiful!) ##Onomatopoeia: ''mó dāo huòhuò'' (, honing a knife), ''hōnglōng yī shēng'' (, rumbling) #Capitalization ##The first letter of the first word in a sentence is capitalized: ''Chūntiān lái le.'' (, Spring has arrived.) ##The first letter of each line in a poem is capitalized. ##The first letter of a proper noun is capitalized: ''Běijīng'' (, Beijing), ''Guójì Shūdiàn'' (, International Bookstore), ''Guójiā Yǔyán Wénzì Gōngzuò Wěiyuánhuì'' (, National Language Commission) ###On some occasions, proper nouns can be written in [[all caps: ''BĚIJĪNG'', ''GUÓJÌ SHŪDIÀN'', ''GUÓJIĀ YǓYÁN WÉNZÌ GŌNGZUÒ WĚIYUÁNHUÌ'' ##If a proper noun is written together with a common noun to make a proper noun, it is capitalized. If not, it is not capitalized: ''Fójiào'' (, Buddhism), ''Tángcháo'' (, Tang dynasty), ''jīngjù'' (, Beijing opera), ''chuānxiōng'' (, [[Ligusticum wallichii|Szechuan lovage) #[[Initialisms ##Single words are abbreviated by taking the first letter of each character of the word: ''Beǐjīng'' (, Beijing) → ''BJ'' ##A group of words are abbreviated by taking the first letter of each word in the group: ''guójiā biāozhǔn'' (, [[Guobiao|Guóbiāo standard) → ''GB'' ##Initials can also be indicated using full stops: ''Beǐjīng'' → ''B.J.'', ''guójiā biāozhǔn'' → ''G.B.'' ##When abbreviating names, the surname is written fully (first letter capitalized or in all caps), but only the first letter of each character in the given name is taken, with full stops after each initial: ''Lǐ Huá'' () → ''Lǐ H.'' or ''LǏ H.'', ''Zhūgě Kǒngmíng'' () → ''Zhūgě K. M.'' or ''ZHŪGĚ K. M.'' #Line wrapping ##Words can only be split by the character:
''guāngmíng'' (, bright) → ''guāng-
míng'', not ''gu-
āngmíng'' ##Initials cannot be split:
''Wáng J. G.'' () → ''Wáng
J. G.'', not ''Wáng J.-
G.'' ##Apostrophes are removed in line wrapping:
''Xī'ān'' (, Xi'an) → ''Xī-
ān'', not ''Xī-
'ān'' ##When the original word has a hyphen, the hyphen is added at the beginning of the new line:
''chēshuǐ-mǎlóng'' (, heavy traffic: "carriage, water, horse, dragon") → ''chēshuǐ-
-mǎlóng'' #Hyphenation: In addition to the situations mentioned above, there are four situations where hyphens are used. ##Coordinate and disjunctive compound words, where the two elements are conjoined or opposed, but retain their individual meaning: ''gōng-jiàn'' (, bow and arrow), ''kuài-màn'' (, speed: "fast-slow"), ''shíqī-bā suì'' (, 17–18 years old), ''dǎ-mà'' (, beat and scold), ''Yīng-Hàn'' (, English-Chinese [dictionary]), ''Jīng-Jīn'' (, Beijing-Tianjin), ''lù-hǎi-kōngjūn'' (, army-navy-airforce). ##Abbreviated compounds (): ''gōnggòng guānxì'' (, public relations) → ''gōng-guān'' (, PR), ''chángtú diànhuà'' (, long-distance calling) → ''cháng-huà'' (, LDC).
Exceptions are made when the abbreviated term has become established as a word in its own right, as in ''chūzhōng'' () for ''chūjí zhōngxué'' (, junior high school). Abbreviations of proper-name compounds, however, should always be hyphenated: ''Běijīng Dàxué'' (, [[Peking University) → ''Běi-Dà'' (, PKU). ##[[Chengyu|Four-syllable idioms: ''fēngpíng-làngjìng'' (), calm and tranquil: "wind calm, waves down"), ''huījīn-rútǔ'' (, spend money like water: "throw gold like dirt"), ''zhǐ-bǐ-mò-yàn'' (, paper-brush-ink-inkstone [four coordinate words]). ###Other idioms are separated according to the words that make up the idiom: ''bēi hēiguō'' (, to be made a scapegoat: "to carry a black pot"), ''zhǐ xǔ zhōuguān fànghuǒ, bù xǔ bǎixìng diǎndēng'' (, Gods may do what cattle may not: "only the official is allowed to light the fire; the commoners are not allowed to light a lamp") #Punctuation ##The Chinese full stop (。) is changed to a western full stop (.) ##The hyphen is a half-width hyphen (-) ##Ellipsis can be changed from 6 dots (......) to 3 dots (...) ##The [[Chinese punctuation#Enumeration comma|enumeration comma (、) is changed to a normal comma (,) ##All other punctuation marks are the same as the ones used in normal texts

Comparison with other orthographies

Pinyin is now used by foreign students learning Chinese as a second language, as well as Bopomofo. Pinyin assigns some Latin letters sound values which are quite different from that of most languages. This has drawn some criticism as it may lead to confusion when uninformed speakers apply either native or English assumed pronunciations to words. However, this problem is not limited only to pinyin, since many languages that use the Latin alphabet natively also assign different values to the same letters. A recent study on Chinese writing and literacy concluded, "By and large, pinyin represents the Chinese sounds better than the [[Wade–Giles system, and does so with fewer extra marks." Because Pinyin is purely a representation of the sounds of Mandarin, it completely lacks the [[semantic cues and contexts inherent in [[Chinese characters. Pinyin is also unsuitable for transcribing some [[Chinese spoken languages other than Mandarin, languages which by contrast have traditionally been written with Han characters allowing for written communication which, by its unified semanto-phonetic orthography, could theoretically be readable in any of the various vernaculars of Chinese where a phonetic script would have only localized utility.

Comparison charts

Unicode code points

Based on ISO 7098:2015, ''Information and Documentation: Chinese Romanization'' (), tonal marks for pinyin should use the symbols from [[Combining Diacritical Marks, as opposed by the use of [[Spacing Modifier Letters in [[Bopomofo. Lowercase letters with tone marks are included in [[GB 2312|GB/T 2312 and their uppercase counterparts are included in [[JIS X 0212; thus Unicode includes all the common accented characters from pinyin. Due to ''The Basic Rules of the Chinese Phonetic Alphabet Orthography'', all accented letters are required to have both uppercase and lowercase characters as per their normal counterparts. [[GBK (character encoding)|GBK has mapped two characters ‘ḿ’ and ‘ǹ’ to [[Private Use Areas in Unicode as U+E7C7 () and U+E7C8 () respectively, thus some Simplified Chinese fonts (e.g. SimSun) that adheres to GBK include both characters in the Private Use Areas, and some input methods (e.g. Sogou Pinyin) also outputs the Private Use Areas code point instead of the original character. As the superset [[GB 18030 changed the mappings of ‘ḿ’ and ‘ǹ’, this has caused issue where the input methods and font files use different encoding standard, and thus the input and output of both characters are mixed up. Other symbols that are used in pinyin is as follow: Other punctuation mark and symbols in Chinese are to use the equivalent symbol in English noted in to GB/T 15834. In educational usage, to match the handwritten style, some fonts used a different style for the letter ''a'' and ''g'' to have an appearance of single-storey ''a'' and single-storey ''g''. Fonts that follow GB/T 2312 usually make single-storey ''a'' in the accented pinyin characters but leaving unaccented double-storey ''a'', causing a discrepancy in the font itself. Unicode did not provide an official way to encode single-storey ''a'' and single-storey ''g'', but as IPA require the differentiation of single-storey and double-storey ''a'' and ''g'', thus the single-storey character ''ɑ''/''ɡ'' in IPA should be used if the need to separate single-storey ''a'' and ''g'' arises. For daily usage there is no need to differentiate single-storey and double-storey ''a''/''g''.


Pinyin superseded older [[Chinese romanization|romanization systems such as [[Wade–Giles (1859; modified 1892) and [[postal romanization, and replaced [[Bopomofo|zhuyin as the method of Chinese phonetic instruction in
mainland China Mainland China, also known as the Chinese mainland, China mainland, or the Mainland Area of the Republic of China is the geopolitical area under the direct jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China (PRC) since October 1, 1949. It include ...
. The ISO adopted pinyin as the standard romanization for modern Chinese in 1982 (ISO 7098:1982, superseded by ISO 7098:2015). The
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of ...
followed suit in 1986. It has also been accepted by the [[government of Singapore, the United States's [[Library of Congress, the [[American Library Association, and many other international institutions. The spelling of Chinese geographical or personal names in pinyin has become the most common way to transcribe them in English. Pinyin has also become the dominant method for [[Chinese input methods for computers|entering Chinese text into computers in Mainland China, in contrast to Taiwan; where [[Bopomofo is most commonly used. Families outside of Taiwan who speak Mandarin as a mother tongue use pinyin to help children associate characters with spoken words which they already know. [[Overseas Chinese|Chinese families outside of Taiwan who speak some other language as their mother tongue use the system to teach children Mandarin pronunciation when they learn vocabulary in [[elementary school. Since 1958, pinyin has been actively used in [[adult education as well, making it easier for formerly [[Literacy in China|illiterate people to continue with self-study after a short period of pinyin literacy instruction. Pinyin has become a tool for many foreigners to learn Mandarin pronunciation, and is used to explain both the grammar and spoken Mandarin coupled with [[Chinese characters (). Books containing both Chinese characters and pinyin are often used by foreign learners of Chinese. Pinyin's role in teaching pronunciation to foreigners and children is similar in some respects to [[furigana-based books (with [[hiragana letters written above or next to [[kanji, directly analogous to [[zhuyin) in [[Japanese language|Japanese or fully [[Harakat|vocalised texts in [[Arabic alphabet|Arabic ("vocalised Arabic"). The tone-marking diacritics are commonly omitted in popular news stories and even in scholarly works. This results in some degree of ambiguity as to which words are being represented.

Computer input systems

Simple computer systems, able to display only 7-bit [[ASCII text (essentially the 26 Latin letters, 10 digits, and punctuation marks), long provided a convincing argument for using unaccented pinyin instead of Chinese characters. Today, however, most computer systems are able to display characters from Chinese and many other writing systems as well, and have them entered with a Latin keyboard using an
input method -based IME File:Interface of Weasel Input Method.png">Operation of an English [[-based IME An input method (or input method editor, commonly abbreviated IME) is an operating system component or program that enables users to generate characters no ...
editor. Alternatively, some [[personal digital assistant|PDAs, [[tablet computers, and [[digitizing tablets allow users to input characters graphically by writing with a [[stylus, with concurrent online [[handwriting recognition. Pinyin with accents can be entered with the use of special keyboard layouts or various [[Character Map (Windows)|character map utilities. [[X keyboard extension includes a "Hanyu Pinyin (altgr)" layout for [[AltGr key|AltGr-triggered [[dead key input of accented characters.

In Taiwan

Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbouring countries include the People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. The main island of Ta ...
(Republic of China) adopted ''[[Tongyong Pinyin'', a modification of ''Hanyu Pinyin'', as the official romanization system on the national level between October 2002 and January 2009, when it decided to promote ''Hanyu Pinyin''. ''Tongyong Pinyin'' ("common phonetic"), a romanization system developed in Taiwan, was designed to romanize languages and dialects spoken on the island in addition to Mandarin Chinese. The [[Kuomintang (KMT) party resisted its adoption, preferring the ''Hanyu Pinyin'' system used in
mainland China Mainland China, also known as the Chinese mainland, China mainland, or the Mainland Area of the Republic of China is the geopolitical area under the direct jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China (PRC) since October 1, 1949. It include ...
and in general use internationally. Romanization preferences quickly became associated with issues of national identity. Preferences split along party lines: the KMT and its affiliated parties in the pan-blue coalition supported the use of Hanyu Pinyin while the [[Democratic Progressive Party and its affiliated parties in the pan-green coalition favored the use of Tongyong Pinyin. ''Tongyong Pinyin'' was made the official system in an administrative order that allowed its adoption by local governments to be voluntary. Locales in [[Kaohsiung, [[Tainan and other areas use romanizations derived from [[Tongyong Pinyin for some district and street names. A few localities with governments controlled by the KMT, most notably [[Taipei, [[Hsinchu, and [[Kinmen|Kinmen County, overrode the order and converted to ''Hanyu Pinyin'' before the January 1, 2009 national-level decision, though with a slightly different capitalization convention than mainland China. Most areas of Taiwan adopted Tongyong Pinyin, consistent with the national policy. Today, many street signs in Taiwan are using ''Tongyong Pinyin''-derived romanizations, but some, especially in northern Taiwan, display ''Hanyu Pinyin''-derived romanizations. It is not unusual to see spellings on street signs and buildings derived from the older [[Wade–Giles, [[MPS2 and other systems. Attempts to make pinyin standard in Taiwan have had uneven success, with most place and proper names remaining unaffected, including all major cities. Personal names on Taiwanese passports honor the choices of Taiwanese citizens, who can choose Wade-Giles, Hakka, Hoklo, Tongyong, aboriginal, or pinyin. Official pinyin use is controversial, as when pinyin use for a metro line in 2017 provoked protests, despite government responses that “The romanization used on road signs and at transportation stations is intended for foreigners... Every foreigner learning Mandarin learns Hanyu pinyin, because it is the international standard...The decision has nothing to do with the nation’s self-determination or any ideologies, because the key point is to ensure that foreigners can read signs.”

In Singapore

Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, bordering the Straits ...
implemented ''Hanyu Pinyin'' as the official romanization system for Mandarin in the public sector starting in the 1980s, in conjunction with the [[Speak Mandarin Campaign. ''Hanyu Pinyin'' is also used as the romanization system to teach Mandarin Chinese at schools.p.485, Chan, Sin-Wai. ''The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Chinese Language'', [[Routledge, 2016. While the process of Pinyinisation has been mostly successful in government communication, placenames, and businesses established in the 1980s and onward, it continues to be unpopular in some areas, most notably for personal names and vocabulary borrowed from other varieties of Chinese already established in the local vernacular. In these situations, romanization continues to be based on the Chinese language variety it originated from, especially the three largest Chinese varieties traditionally spoken in Singapore ([[Hokkien Chinese|Hokkien, [[Teochew dialect|Teochew, and [[Cantonese).

For other languages

Pinyin-like systems have been devised for other variants of Chinese. [[Guangdong Romanization is a set of romanizations devised by the government of [[Guangdong province for [[Standard Cantonese|Cantonese, [[Teochew dialect|Teochew, [[Hakka Chinese|Hakka ([[Moiyen dialect), and [[Hainan dialect|Hainanese. All of these are designed to use Latin letters in a similar way to pinyin. In addition, in accordance to the ''Regulation of Phonetic Transcription in Hanyu Pinyin Letters of Place Names in Minority Nationality Languages'' () promulgated in 1976, place names in non-Han languages like [[Mongolian language|Mongolian, [[Uyghur language|Uyghur, and [[Standard Tibetan|Tibetan are also officially transcribed using pinyin in a system adopted by the State Administration of Surveying and Mapping and Geographical Names Committee known as [[SASM/GNC romanization. The pinyin letters (26 Roman letters, plus ''ü'' and ''ê'') are used to approximate the non-Han language in question as closely as possible. This results in spellings that are different from both the customary spelling of the place name, and the pinyin spelling of the name in Chinese: ''[[Tongyong Pinyin'' was developed in Taiwan for use in rendering not only Mandarin Chinese, but other languages and dialects spoken on the island such as [[Taiwanese Hokkien|Taiwanese, [[Hakka language|Hakka, and [[Taiwan aboriginal languages|aboriginal languages.

See also

*[[Combining character *[[Cyrillization of Chinese *[[Pinyin input method *[[Romanization of Japanese *[[Tibetan pinyin *[[Transcription into Chinese characters *[[Comparison of Chinese transcription systems



Further reading

* * * *

External links

Scheme for the Chinese Phonetic Alphabet
The original 1958 ''Scheme'', apparently scanned from a reprinted copy in ''Xinhua Zidian''. PDF version from the Chinese Ministry of Education.
Basic rules of the Chinese phonetic alphabet orthography
The official standard GB/T 16159–2012 in Chinese. PDF version from the Chinese Ministry of Education. *

Chinese phonetic alphabet spelling rules for Chinese names
The official standard GB/T 28039–2011 in Chinese. PDF version from the Chinese Ministry of Education *

Pronunciation and FAQs related to Pinyin
Pinyin Tone Toolarchive
Online editor to create Pinyin with tones |- |- |- {{Authority control [[Category:Pinyin| [[Category:Writing systems introduced in 1958 [[Category:Chinese language [[Category:Chinese words and phrases [[Category:ISO standards [[Category:Mandarin words and phrases [[Category:Phonetic alphabets [[Category:Phonetic guides [[Category:Romanization of Chinese [[Category:Ruby characters