The Info List - Pinyin

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PINYIN, or HàNYǔ PīNYīN, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
in mainland China
, Malaysia
, Singapore
, and Taiwan . It is often used to teach Standard Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters
Chinese characters
. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones . Pinyin
without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.

The pinyin system was developed in the 1950s by many linguists, including Zhou Youguang
Zhou Youguang
, based on earlier forms of romanization of Chinese . It was published by the Chinese government
Chinese government
in 1958 and revised several times. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) adopted pinyin as an international standard in 1982, followed by the United Nations
United Nations
in 1986. The system was adopted as the official standard in Taiwan
in 2009, where it is used for romanization alone (in part to make areas more English-friendly) rather than for educational and computer-input purposes.

The word _Hànyǔ_ (simplified Chinese : 汉语; traditional Chinese : 漢語) means the spoken language of the Han people
Han people
. _Pīnyīn_ (拼音) literally means "spelled sounds".


* 1 History of romanization of Chinese before 1949

* 1.1 Wade–Giles * 1.2 Sin Wenz * 1.3 Yale Romanization

* 2 History of Hanyu Pinyin
Hanyu Pinyin
* 3 Usage * 4 Overview

* 5 Initials and finals

* 5.1 Initials * 5.2 Finals

* 6 Rules given in terms of English pronunciation

* 6.1 Pronunciation of initials * 6.2 Pronunciation of finals

* 7 Orthography

* 7.1 Letters * 7.2 Words, capitalization, initialisms and punctuation

* 8 Tones

* 8.1 Numerals in place of tone marks

* 8.2 Rules for placing the tone mark

* 8.2.1 Phonological intuition

* 8.3 Using tone colors * 8.4 Third tone exceptions

* 9 The _ü_ sound * 10 Pinyin
in Taiwan

* 11 Comparison with other orthographies

* 11.1 Comparison charts * 11.2 Computer input systems

* 12 Other languages * 13 See also * 14 References * 15 Further reading * 16 External links


In 1605, the Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci
published _Xizi Qiji_ (《西字奇蹟》; _Xīzì Qíjī_; _Hsi-tzu Ch'i-chi_; "Miracle of Western Letters") 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
, issued his _Xi Ru Ermu Zi_ (《西儒耳目資》; _Hsi Ju Erh-mu Tzu_; "Aid to the Eyes and Ears of Western Literati") 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, Fang Yizhi (方以智; _Fāng Yǐzhì_; _Fang I-chih_; 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 Yueand Zhang Taiyan
Zhang Taiyan
, Song had been to Japan and observed the stunning effect of the _kana _ 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.


Main article: Wade–Giles

The Wade–Gilessystem was produced by Thomas Wade in 1859, and further improved by Herbert Giles
Herbert Giles
in the Chinese–English Dictionary of 1892. It was popular and used in English-language publications outside China
until 1979.


Main article: Latinxua Sin Wenz
Latinxua Sin Wenz

In the early 1930s, Communist Party of China
Communist Party of China
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
Russian Far East
. This Sin Wenz or "New Writing" was much more linguistically sophisticated than earlier alphabets, with the major exception that it did not indicate tones.

In 1940, several thousand members attended a Border Region Sin Wenz Society convention. Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
and Zhu De
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 Sun Yat-sen
Sun Yat-sen
's son, Sun Fo
Sun Fo
; Cai Yuanpei, the country's most prestigious educator; Tao Xingzhi
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, 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 characters. Opposition arose, however, because the system was less well adapted to writing regional languages, and therefore would require learning Mandarin. Sin Wenz fell into relative disuse during the following years.


Main article: Yale romanization of Mandarin

In 1943, the U.S. military engaged Yale University to develop a romanization of Mandarin Chinese
Mandarin Chinese
for its pilots flying over China. The resulting system is very close to _pinyin_, but doesn't use English letters in unfamiliar ways; for example, _pinyin_ X is written as SY. Medial semivowels 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.


was created by Chinese linguists, including Zhou Youguang
Zhou Youguang
, as part of a Chinese government
Chinese government
project in the 1950s. Zhou is often called "the father of pinyin", Zhou worked as a banker in 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 China's Ministry of Education created a Committee for the Reform of the Chinese Written Language, Premier Zhou Enlai
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
Latinxua Sin Wenz
_ of 1931, and the diacritic markings from _zhuyin _. "I'm not the father of pinyin," Zhou said years later; "I'm the son of pinyin. It's 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.

Beginning in the early 1980s, Western publications addressing Mainland China
Mainland China
began using the Hanyu Pinyin
Hanyu Pinyin
romanization system instead of earlier romanization systems; this change followed the 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.


superseded older romanization systems such as Wade–Giles (1859; modified 1892) and postal romanization , and replaced zhuyin as the method of Chinese phonetic instruction in mainland China
. The ISO adopted pinyin as the standard romanization for modern Chinese in 1982 (ISO 7098:1982, superseded by ISO 7098:2015); the United Nations followed suit in 1986. It has also been accepted by the government of Singapore
, the United States' Library of Congress
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 entering Chinese text into computers in Mainland China, in contrast to Taiwan
where Bopomofo
is most commonly used. A school slogan asking elementary students to speak Putonghua is annotated with pinyin, but without tonal marks.

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. 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 illiterate people to continue with self-study after a short period of pinyin literacy instruction.

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
Chinese characters
(汉字; 漢字; _Hànzì_). Books containing both Chinese characters
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 or fully vocalised texts in 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.


In Yiling , Yichang
, Hubei
, text on road signs appears both in Chinese characters
Chinese characters
and in Hanyu Pinyin
Hanyu Pinyin

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, s, zh, ch, sh_, and _r_ exhibiting the greatest discrepancies. (When Chinese speakers call out these letters, they read them as: _ji, qi, xi, zi, ci, si, zhi, chi, shi_, and _ri_. The _i_ in the last four sounds more like _r_ and the use of _i_ is purely a matter of convention.) Most native speakers of English find these sounds difficult.

In this system, the correspondence between the Roman letter and the sound is sometimes idiosyncratic , 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 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 (whilst reminiscent of both of them being used for the phoneme in the German language and Latin script-using Slavic languages respectively). From _s, z, c_ come the digraphs _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, and reminds the trained reader that many Chinese pronounce _sh, zh, ch_ as _s, z, c_ (and English-speakers use _zh_ to represent /ʒ / in foreign languages such as Russian anyway). 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 are pronounced in a similar way to vowels in Romance languages
Romance languages

The pronunciation and spelling of Chinese words are generally given in terms of initials and finals , 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 (semivowels coming before the vowel), the nucleus vowel, and coda (final vowel or consonant).


Unlike European languages, clusters of letters – initials (声母; 聲母; _shēngmǔ_) and finals (韵母; 韻母; _yùnmǔ_) – 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). The latter case, though a common practice in some sub-dialects, is rarely used in official publications. One exception is the city Harbin (哈尔滨; 哈爾濱), whose name comes from the Manchu language
Manchu language

Even though most initials contain a consonant, finals are not always simple vowels, especially in compound finals (复韵母; 複韻母; _fùyùnmǔ_), 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_ (衣, clothes, officially pronounced /í/) as /jí/ and _wéi_ (围; 圍, to enclose, officially pronounced /uěi/) as /wěi/ or /wuěi/. 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
International Phonetic Alphabet














SEMIVOWEL 2 Y / 1 and W

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 order (excluding _w_ and _y_), derived from the zhuyin system, is:






i ⟨i⟩ • y ⟨ü⟩ ɨ ⟨i⟩ u ⟨u⟩

ɤ ⟨e⟩ • o ⟨o⟩ ɚ ⟨er⟩

ɛ ⟨ê⟩

a ⟨a⟩




* v * t * e

In each cell below, the first line indicates 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
Standard Chinese
are _-n_ and _-ng_, and _-r_, 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
Chinese language
such as Cantonese, or a minority language of China), or indicates the use of a non-pinyin romanization system (where final consonants may be used to indicate tones).


∅ /I/ /U/ /N/ /ŋ/


-i e -e a -a ei -ei ai -ai ou -ou ao -ao en -en an -an

-ong eng -eng ang -ang


yi -i ye -ie ya -ia

you -iu yao -iao yin -in yan -ian yong -iong ying -ing yang -iang


wu -u wo -uo 3 wa -ua wei -ui wai -uai

wen -un wan -uan


wang -uang


yu -ü 2 yue -üe 2

yun -ün 2 yuan -üan 2

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 _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_ (欸; 誒) and syllabic nasals _m_ (呒, 呣), _n_ (嗯, 唔), _ng_ (嗯, 𠮾) are used as interjections .


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




spit unaspirated P, as in sPit


pay strongly aspirated P, as in Pit


may as in English MuMMy


fair as in English Fun


stop unaspirated T, as in sTop


take strongly aspirated T, as in Top


nay as in English Nit


lay as in English Love


skill unaspirated K, as in sKill


kay strongly aspirated K, as in Kill


loch roughly like the Scots CH. English H as in Hay or, more closely in some American dialects, Hero is an acceptable approximation. One way to produce this sound is by very slowly making a "k" sound, pausing at the point where there is just restricted air flowing over the back of the tongue (after the release at the beginning of a "k")


churchyard No equivalent in English, but similar to an unaspirated "-chy-" sound when said quickly. Like _q_, but unaspirated. Is similar to the English name of the letter _G_. Not the S in viSion, despite the common English pronunciation of "Beijing". The sequence "ji" word-initially is the same as the Japanese pronunciation of (ジ) _ji_.


punch yourself No equivalent in English. Like punCH Yourself, with the lips spread wide with _ee_. Curl the tip of the tongue downwards to stick it at the back of the teeth and strongly aspirate. The sequence "qi" word-initially is the same as the Japanese pronunciation of (チ) _chi_.


push yourself No equivalent in English. Like -SH Y-, with the lips spread and the tip of the tongue curled downwards and stuck to the back of teeth when one says _ee_. The sequence "xi" is the same as the Japanese pronunciation of (シ) _shi_.


junk Rather like CH (a sound between CHoke, Joke, TRue, and DRew, tongue tip curled more upwards). Voiced in a toneless syllable.


church as in CHin, but with a flat tongue; very similar to nurTUre in American English, but strongly aspirated.


shirt as in SHoe, but with a flat tongue; very similar to marSH in American English


ray Similar to the English R in Reduce, but with a flat tongue, lightly fricated and unrounded lips.


reads unaspirated C, similar to something between suDS and caTS; as in suDS in a toneless syllable


hats like the English TS in caTS, but strongly aspirated, very similar to the Czech, Polish, and Slovak C.


say as in Sun


way as in Water. Before an E or A it is sometimes pronounced like v as in Violin.*

_y_ , yea as in Yes. Before a _u_, pronounced with rounded lips.*

* Note on _y_ and _w_

_Y_ and _w_ are equivalent to the semivowel 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 (_a_, _o_, or _e_) in a multiple-syllable word when the syllable does not start the word (which is most commonly realized as ), unless the syllable immediately follows a hyphen or other dash. This is done to remove ambiguity that could arise, as in _Xi\'an _, which consists of the two syllables _xi_ ("西") _an_ ("安"), compared to such words as _xian_ ("先"). (This ambiguity does not occur when tone marks are used: The two tone marks in _Xīān_ unambiguously show that the word consists of two syllables. However, even with tone marks, the city is usually spelled with an apostrophe as _Xī'ān_.)


This table may be a useful reference for IPA vowel symbols

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_.


_-i_ , (_n/a_) _-i_ is a buzzed continuation of the consonant following _z-_, _c-_, _s-_, _zh-_, _ch-_, _sh-_ or _r-_.

(In all other cases, -i has the sound of _bEE_; this is listed below.)


A like English _fAther_, but a bit more fronted

_e_ (_ listen ) E a back, unrounded vowel (similar to English dUH_, but not as open). Varies between and depending on the speaker.


AI like English EYE, but a bit lighter


EI as in _hEY_


AO approximately as in _cOW_; the _a_ is much more audible than the _o_


OU as in North American English _sO_


AN like British English _bAN_, but more central


EN as in _takEN_


ANG as in Austrian ANGST.

(Starts with the vowel sound in _fAther_ and ends in the velar nasal ; like _sONG_ in some dialects of American English)


ENG like _e_ in _en_ above but with _ng_ appended


(_n/a_) starts with the vowel sound in _bOOk_ and ends with the velar nasal sound in _siNG_. Varies between and depending on the speaker.


ER Similar to the sound in _bAR_ in American English. Can also be pronounced depending on the speaker.



YI like English _bEE_


YA as _I_ + _A_; like English _YArd_


YE as _I_ + _ê_ where the _e_ (compare with the _ê_ interjection) is pronounced shorter and lighter


YAO as _I_ + _AO_


YOU as _I_ + _OU_


YAN as I + AN; varies between and depending on the speaker; like English _YEN_


YIN as _I_ + _N_


YANG as _I_ + _ANG_


YING as _I_ + _NG_


YONG as _I_ + _ONG_. Varies between and depending on the speaker.



WU like English _OO_


WA as _U_ + _A_

_uo_, _o_

WO as _U_ + _O_ where the _o_ (compare with the _o_ interjection) is pronounced shorter and lighter (spelled as _O_ after _b_, _p_, _m_ or _f_)


WAI as _U_ + _AI_, as in English _WHY_


WEI as _U_ + _EI_


WAN as _U_ + _AN_


WEN as _U_ + _EN_; as in English _wON_


WANG as _U_ + _ANG_


WENG as _U_ + _ENG_


_u_, _ü_ (_ listen ) YU as in German über_ or French _lUne_.

(Pronounced as English EE with rounded lips)

_ue, üe_

YUE as _ü_ + _ê_ where the e (compare with the _ê_ interjection) is pronounced shorter and lighter


YUAN as _ü_ + _AN_; Varies between and depending on the speaker.


YUN as _ü_ + _N_



(_n/a_) as in _bEt_


(_n/a_) approximately as in British English _Office_; the lips are much more rounded


YO as _I_ + _O_



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_). * _ü_ is written as _u_ when there is no ambiguity (such as _ju_, _qu_, and _xu_), but written as _ü_ when there are corresponding _u_ syllables (such as _lü_ and _nü_). In such situations where there are corresponding _u_ syllables, it is often replaced with _v_ on a computer, making it easier to type on a standard keyboard. * When preceded by a consonant, _iou_, _uei_, and _uen_ are simplified as _iu_, _ui_, and _un_ (which do not represent the actual pronunciation). * As in zhuyin, what 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 multiple-syllable word when the syllable does not start the word (which is most commonly realized as ), unless the syllable immediately follows a hyphen or other dash. This is done to remove ambiguity that could arise, as in _Xi\'an _, which consists of the two syllables _xi_ (西) _an_ (安), compared to such words as _xian_ (先). (This ambiguity does not occur when tone marks are used: The two tone marks in "Xīān" unambiguously show that the word consists of 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 due to difficulty of entering them on computers, and are confined mainly to Esperanto
keyboard layouts. Early drafts and some published material used diacritic hooks below instead: _ _ (_ȥ/ʐ_), _ꞔ _, _ ʂ
_ (_ᶊ_). * _ng_ has the uncommon shorthand of _ŋ _. * Early drafts also contained the letter _ ɥ
_ or _ч _, borrowed from the Cyrillic script
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, sometimes, for ease of typing into a computer, the _v_ is used to replace a _ü_.

Most of the above are used to avoid ambiguity when writing words of more than one syllable in pinyin. For example, _uenian_ is written as _wenyan_ because it is not clear which syllables make up _uenian_; _uen-ian_, _uen-i-an_, and _u-en-i-an_ are all possible combinations whereas _wenyan_ is unambiguous because _we_, _nya_, etc. do not exist in pinyin. See the pinyin table article for a summary of possible pinyin syllables (not including tones).


Although Chinese characters
Chinese characters
represent single syllables, Mandarin Chinese is a polysyllabic language. Spacing in pinyin is based on whole words, not single syllables. However, there are often ambiguities in partitioning a word. _The Basic Rules of the Chinese Phonetic Alphabet Orthography_ (汉语拼音正词法基本规则; 漢語拼音正詞法基本規則; _Hànyǔ Pīnyīn Zhèngcífǎ Jīběn Guīzé_) were put into effect in 1988 by the National Educational Commission (国家教育委员会; 國家教育委員會; _Guójiā Jiàoyù Wěiyuánhuì_) and the National Language Commission (国家语言文字工作委员会; 國家語言文字工作委員會; _Guójiā Yǔyán Wénzì Gōngzuò Wěiyuánhuì_). These rules became a Guobiao standard in 1996 and were updated in 2012.


* 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_ (人, person); _péngyou_ (朋友, friend); _qiǎokèlì_ (巧克力, chocolate) * COMBINED MEANING (2 OR 3 CHARACTERS): Same goes for words combined of two words to one meaning: _hǎifēng_ (海风; 海風, sea breeze); _wèndá_ (问答; 問答, question and answer); _quánguó_ (全国; 全國, nationwide); _chángyòngcí_ (常用词; 常用詞,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_ (无缝钢管; 無縫鋼管, seamless steel-tube); _huánjìng bǎohù guīhuà_ (环境保护规划; 環境保護規劃, environmental protection planning); _gāoměngsuānjiǎ_ (高锰酸钾; 高錳酸鉀, potassium permanganate)


* AA: Duplicated characters (AA) are written together: _rénrén_ (人人, everybody), _kànkan_ (看看, to have a look), _niánnián_ (年年, every year) * ABAB: Two characters duplicated (ABAB) are written separated: _yánjiū yánjiū_ (研究研究, to study, to research), _xuěbái xuěbái_ (雪白雪白, white as snow) * AABB: Characters in the AABB schema are written together: _láiláiwǎngwǎng_ (来来往往; 來來往往, come and go), _qiānqiānwànwàn_ (千千万万; 千千萬萬, numerous)

* PREFIXES (前附成分; _qiánfù chéngfèn_) AND SUFFIXES (后附成分; 後附成分; _hòufù chéngfèn_): Words accompanied by prefixes such as _fù_ (副, vice), _zǒng_ (总; 總, chief), _fēi_ (非, non-), _fǎn_ (反, anti-), _chāo_ (超, ultra-), _lǎo_ (老, old), _ā_ (阿, used before names to indicate familiarity), _kě_ (可, -able), _wú_ (无; 無, -less) and _bàn_ (半, semi-) and suffixes such as _zi_ (子, noun suffix), _r_ (儿; 兒, diminutive suffix), _tou_ (头; 頭, noun suffix), _xìng_ (性, -ness, -ity), _zhě_ (者, -er, -ist), _yuán_ (员; 員, person), _jiā_ (家, -er, -ist), _shǒu_ (手, person skilled in a field), _huà_ (化, -ize) and _men_ (们; 們, plural marker) are written together: _fùbùzhǎng_ (副部长; 副部長, vice minister), _chéngwùyuán_ (乘务员; 乘務員, conductor), _háizimen_ (孩子们; 孩子們, children)

* NOUNS AND NAMES (名词; 名詞; _míngcí_)

* Words of position are separated: _mén wài_ (门外; 門外, outdoor), _hé li_ (河里; 河裏, under the river), _huǒchē shàngmian_ (火车上面; 火車上面, on the train), _Huáng Hé yǐnán_ (黄河以南; 黃河以南, south of the Yellow River)

* Exceptions are words traditionally connected: _tiānshang_ (天上, in the sky or outerspace), _dìxia_ (地下, on the ground), _kōngzhōng_ (空中, in the air), _hǎiwài_ (海外, overseas)

* Surnames are separated from the given names, each capitalized: _Lǐ Huá_ (李华; 李華), _Zhāng Sān_ (张三; 張三). If the surname and/or given name consists of two syllables, it should be written as one: _Zhūgě Kǒngmíng_ (诸葛孔明; 諸葛孔明). * Titles following the name are separated and are not capitalized: _Wáng bùzhǎng_ (王部长; 王部長, Minister Wang), _Lǐ xiānsheng_ (李先生, Mr. Li), _Tián zhǔrèn_ (田主任, Director Tian), _Zhào tóngzhì_ (赵同志; 趙同志, Comrade Zhao).

* The forms of addressing people with suffixes such as _Lǎo_ (老), _Xiǎo_ (小), _Dà_ (大) and _Ā_ (阿) are capitalized: _Xiǎo Liú_ (小刘; 小劉, Ms./Mr. Liu), _Dà Lǐ_ (大李, Mr. Li), _Ā Sān_ (阿三, Ah San), _Lǎo Qián_ (老钱; 老錢, Mr. Qian ), _Lǎo Wú_ (老吴; 老吳, Mr. Wu)

* Exceptions are: _Kǒngzǐ_ (孔子, Confucius
), _Bāogōng_ (包公, Judge Bao ), _Xīshī_ (西施, Xishi ), _Mèngchángjūn_ (孟尝君; 孟嘗君, Lord Mengchang), among others

* Geographical names of China: _Běijīng Shì_ (北京市, city of Beijing
), _Héběi Shěng_ (河北省, province of Hebei
), _Yālù Jiāng_ (鸭绿江; 鴨綠江, Yalu River
Yalu River
), _Tài Shān_ (泰山, Mount Tai
Mount Tai
), _Dòngtíng Hú_ (洞庭湖, Dongting Lake
Dongting Lake
), _Táiwān Hǎixiá_ (台湾海峡; 臺灣海峽, Taiwan
Strait )

* Monosyllabic prefixes and suffixes are written together with their related part: _Dōngsì Shítiáo_ (东四_十_条; 東四_十_條, Dongsi 10th Alley) * Common geographical nouns that have become part of proper nouns are written together: _Hēilóngjiāng_ (黑龙江; 黑龍江, Heilongjiang

* Non- Chinese namesare written in Hanyu Pinyin: _Āpèi Āwàngjìnměi_ (阿沛·阿旺晋美; 阿沛·阿旺晉美, Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme ); _Dōngjīng_ (东京; 東京, Tokyo

* VERBS (动词; 動詞; _dòngcí_): Verbs and their suffixes _-zhe_ (着; 著), _-le_ (了) or _-guo_ ((过; 過) are written as one: _kànzhe_ (看着; 看著, seeing), _jìnxíngguo_ (进行过; 進行過, have been implemented). _Le_ as it appears in the end of a sentence is separated though: _Huǒchē dào le._ (火车到了; 火車到了, The train arrived).

* Verbs and their objects are separated: _kàn xìn_ (看信, read a letter), _chī yú_ (吃鱼; 吃魚, eat fish), _kāi wánxiào_ (开玩笑; 開玩笑, to be kidding). * If verbs and their complements are each monosyllabic, they are written together; if not, they are separated: _gǎohuài_ (搞坏; 搞壞, to make broken), _dǎsǐ_ (打死, hit to death), _huàwéi_ (化为; 化為, to become), _zhěnglǐ hǎo_ (整理好, to sort out), _gǎixiě wéi_ (改写为; 改寫為, to rewrite as)

* ADJECTIVES (形容词; 形容詞; _xíngróngcí_): A monosyllabic adjective and its reduplication are written as one: _mēngmēngliàng_ (矇矇亮, dim), _liàngtángtáng_ (亮堂堂, shining bright)

* Complements of size or degree such as _xiē_ (些), _yīxiē_ (一些), _diǎnr_ (点儿; 點兒) and _yīdiǎnr_ (一点儿; 一點兒) are written separated: _dà xiē_ (大些), a little bigger), _kuài yīdiǎnr_ (快一点儿; 快一點兒, a bit faster)

* PRONOUNS (代词; 代詞; _dàicí_)

* Personal pronouns and interrogative pronouns are separated from other words: _Wǒ ài Zhōngguó._ (我爱中国。; 我愛中國。, I love China); _Shéi shuō de?_ (谁说的?; 誰說的?, Who said it?)

* The demonstrative pronoun _zhè_ (这; 這, this), _nà_ (那, that) and the question pronoun _nǎ_ (哪, which) are separated: _zhè rén_ (这人; 這人, this person), _nà cì huìyì_ (那次会议; 那次會議, that meeting), _nǎ zhāng bàozhǐ_ (哪张报纸; 哪張報紙, which newspaper)

* Exception—If _zhè_, _nà_ or _nǎ_ are followed by _diǎnr_ (点儿; 點兒), _bān_ (般), _biān_ (边; 邊), _shí_ (时; 時), _huìr_ (会儿; 會兒), _lǐ_ (里; 裏), _me_ (么; 麼) or the general classifier_ge_ (个; 個), they are written together: _nàlǐ_ (那里; 那裏, there), _zhèbiān_ (这边; 這邊, over here), _zhège_ (这个; 這個, this)

* NUMERALS (数词; 數詞; _shùcí_) AND MEASURE WORDS (量词; 量詞; _liàngcí_)

* Numbers and words like _gè_ (各, each), _měi_ (每, each), _mǒu_ (某, any), _běn_ (本, this), _gāi_ (该; 該, that), _wǒ_ (我, my, our) and _nǐ_ (你, your) are separated from the measure words following them: _liǎng ge rén_ (两个人; 兩個人, two people), _gè guó_ (各国; 各國, every nation), _měi nián_ (每年, every year), _mǒu gōngchǎng_ (某工厂; 某工廠, a certain factory), _wǒ xiào_ (我校, our school) * Numbers up to 100 are written as single words: _sānshísān_ (三十三, thirty-three). Above that, the hundreds, thousands, etc. are written as separate words: _jiǔyì qīwàn èrqiān sānbǎi wǔshíliù_ (九亿七万二千三百五十六; 九億七萬二千三百五十六, nine hundred million, seventy-two thousand, three hundred fifty-six). Arabic numerals are kept as Arabic numerals: _635 fēnjī_ (635 分机; 635 分機, extension 635) * The _dì_ (第) of ordinal numerals is hyphenated: _dì-yī_ (第一, first), _dì-356_ (第 356, 356th). The _chū_ (初) in front of numbers one to ten is written together with the number: _chūshí_ (初十, tenth day) * Numbers representing month and day are hyphenated: _wǔ-sì_ (五四, May fourth ), _yīèr-jiǔ_ (一二·九, December ninth )

* Words of approximations such as _duō_ (多), _lái_ (来; 來) and _jǐ_ (几; 幾) are separated from numerals and measure words: _yībǎi duō gè_ (一百多个; 一百多個, around a hundred); _shí lái wàn gè_ (十来万个; 十來萬個, around a hundred thousand); _jǐ jiā rén_ (几家人; 幾家人, a few families)

* _Shíjǐ_ (十几; 十幾, more than ten) and _jǐshí_ (几十; 幾十, tens) are written together: _shíjǐ gè rén_ (十几个人; 十幾個人, more than ten people); _jǐshí_ (几十根钢管; 幾十根鋼管, tens of steel pipes)

* Approximations with numbers or units that are close together are hyphenated: _sān-wǔ tiān_ (三五天, three to five days), _qiān-bǎi cì_ (千百次, thousands of times)

* Other FUNCTION WORDS (虚词; 虛詞; _xūcí_) are separated from other words, including:

* Adverbs (副词; 副詞; _fùcí_): _hěn hǎo_ (很好, very good), _zuì kuài_ (最快, fastest), _fēicháng dà_ (非常大, extremely big) * Prepositions (介词; 介詞; _jiècí_): _zài qiánmiàn_ (在前面, in front) * Conjunctions (连词; 連詞; _liáncí_): _nǐ hé wǒ_ (你和我, you and I/me), _Nǐ lái háishi bù lái?_ (你来还是不来?; 你來還是不來?, Are you coming or not?)

* "Constructive auxiliaries" (结构助词; 結構助詞; _jiégòu zhùcí_) such as _de_ (的/地/得), _zhī_ (之) and _suǒ_ (所): _mànmàn de zou_ (慢慢地走), go slowly)

* A monosyllabic word can also be written together with _de_ (的/地/得): _wǒ de shū_ / _wǒde shū_ (我的书; 我的書, my book)

* Modal auxiliaries at the end of a sentence: _Nǐ zhīdào ma?_ (你知道吗?; 你知道嗎?, Do you know?), _Kuài qù ba!_ (快去吧!, Go quickly!) * Exclamations and interjections: _À! Zhēn měi!_ (啊!真美!), Oh, that's so beautiful!) * Onomatopoeia: _mó dāo huòhuò_ (磨刀霍霍, honing a knife), _hōnglōng yī shēng_ (轰隆一声; 轟隆一聲, rumbling)


* The first letter of the first word in a sentence is capitalized: _Chūntiān lái le._ (春天来了。; 春天來了。, Spring has arrived.) * The first letter of each line in a poem is capitalized.

* The first letter of a proper noun is capitalized: _Beǐjīng_ (北京, Beijing), _Guójì Shūdiàn_ (国际书店; 國際書店, International Bookstore), _Guójiā Yǔyán Wénzì Gōngzuò Wěiyuánhuì_ (国家语言文字工作委员会; 國家語言文字工作委員會, 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_ (佛教, Buddhism), _Tángcháo_ (唐朝, Tang dynasty), _jīngjù_ (京剧; 京劇, Beijing
opera), _chuānxiōng_ (川芎, Szechuan lovage )


* Single words are abbreviated by taking the first letter of each character of the word: _BeǐJīng_ (北京, Beijing) → _BJ_ * A group of words are abbreviated by taking the first letter of each word in the group: _Guójiā Biāozhǔn_ (国家标准; 國家標準, Guobiao 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_ (李华; 李華) → _Lǐ H._ or _LǏ H._, _Zhūgě Kǒngmíng_ (诸葛孔明; 諸葛孔明) → _Zhūgě K. M._ or _ZHŪGĚ K. M._


* Words can only be split by the character: _guāngmíng_ (光明, bright) → guāng- míng, not gu- āngmíng * Initials cannot be split: _Wáng J. G._ (王建国; 王建國) → Wáng J. G., not Wáng J.- G. * Apostrophes are removed in line wrapping: _Xī'ān_ (西安, 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_ (车水马龙; 車水馬龍, 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_ (弓箭, bow and arrow), _kuài-màn_ (快慢, speed: "fast-slow"), _shíqī-bā suì_ (十七八岁; 十七八歲, 17–18 years old), _dǎ-mà_ (打骂; 打罵, beat and scold), _Yīng-Hàn_ (英汉; 英漢, English-Chinese ), _Jīng-Jīn_ (京津, Beijing-Tianjin), _lù-hǎi-kōngjūn_ (陆海空军; 陸海空軍, army-navy-airforce).

* Abbreviated compounds (略语; 略語; _lüèyǔ_): _gōnggòng guānxì_ (公共关系; 公共關係, public relations) → _gōng-guān_ (公关; 公關, PR), _chángtú diànhuà_ (长途电话; 長途電話, long-distance calling) → _cháng-huà_ (长话; 長話, LDC). Exceptions are made when the abbreviated term has become established as a word in its own right, as in _chūzhōng_ (初中) for _chūjí zhōngxué_ (初级中学; 初級中學, junior high school). Abbreviations of proper-name compounds, however, should always be hyphenated: _Běijīng Dàxué_ (北京大学; 北京大學, Peking University ) → _Běi-Dà_ (北大, PKU). * Four-syllable idioms : _fēngpíng-làngjìng_ (风平浪静; 風平浪靜), calm and tranquil: "wind calm, waves down"), _huījīn-rútǔ_ (挥金如土; 揮金如土, spend money like water: "throw gold like dirt"), _zhǐ-bǐ-mò-yàn_ (纸笔墨砚; 紙筆墨硯, paper-brush-ink-inkstone ). (The AA-BB reduplication above is an instance of this.)

* Other idioms are separated according to the words that make up the idiom: _bēi hēiguō_ (背黑锅; 背黑鍋, to be made a scapegoat: "to carry a black pot"), _zhǐ xǔ zhōuguān fànghuǒ, bù xǔ bǎixìng diǎndēng_ (只许州官放火,不许百姓点灯; 只許州官放火,不許百姓點燈, 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")


* 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 enumeration comma (、) is changed to a normal comma (,). * All other punctuation marks are the same as the ones used in normal texts.


Relative pitch changes of the four tones

The pinyin system also uses diacritics to mark the four tones of Mandarin . The diacritic is placed over the letter that represents the syllable nucleus , unless that letter is missing (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 and also for the use of a Latin alpha
Latin alpha
(_ɑ_) rather than the standard style of the letter (_a_) found in most fonts. (The same problem happens to _g_—often written as _ɡ_, or U+0261). The official rules of _Hanyu Pinyin_, however, specify no such practice. :

* The first tone (Flat or High Level Tone) is represented by a macron (ˉ) added to the pinyin vowel: ā (ɑ̄) 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 (ɑ́) 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 font limitations. ǎ (ɑ̌) 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 (ɑ̀) 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 (ɑ) 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_ (知道).

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 four main tones of Standard Mandarin, pronounced with the syllable ma_.

Traditional characters:

媽 (mā) 麻 (má) 馬 (mǎ) 罵 (mà) 嗎 (·ma)

Simplified characters:

妈 (mā) 麻 (má) 马 (mǎ) 骂 (mà) 吗 (·ma)

The words are "mother", "hemp", "horse", "scold", and a question particle, respectively.


Before the advent of computers, many typewriter fonts did not contain vowels with 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 吗/嗎, an interrogative marker.

TONE TONE MARK Number added to end of syllable in place of tone mark Example using tone mark Example using number IPA

First macron ( ¯ ) 1 mā ma1 ma˥

Second acute accent ( ´ ) 2 má ma2 ma˧˥

Third caron ( ˇ ) 3 mǎ ma3 ma˨˩˦

Fourth grave accent ( ` ) 4 mà ma4 ma˥˩

"Neutral" No mark or dot before syllable (·) no number 5 0 ma ·ma ma ma5 ma0 ma


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 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 here 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.


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 color scheme was one of the first to be used. It is tone 1 - red, tone 2 - orange, tone 3 - green, tone 4 - blue, and neutral tone - black. * The Unimelb color scheme is tone 1 - blue, tone 2 - green, tone 3 - purple, tone 4 - red, neutral tone - grey * The Hanping color scheme is tone 1 - blue, tone 2 - green, tone 3 - orange, tone 4 - red, neutral tone - grey. * The Pleco color scheme is tone 1 - red, tone 2 - green, tone 3 - blue, tone 4 - purple, neutral tone - grey * The Thomas color scheme is tone 1 - green, tone 2 - blue, tone 3 - red, tone 4 - black, neutral tone - grey


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 你好 (nǐhǎo, hello), the first syllable is pronounced with the second tone. In pinyin, words like "hello" are still written with two third tones (nǐhǎo).


An umlaut is placed over the letter _u_ when it occurs after the initials _l_ and _n_ in order to represent the sound . This is necessary in order to distinguish the front high rounded vowel in _lü_ (e.g. 驴; 驢; "donkey") from the back high rounded vowel in _lu_ (e.g. 炉; 爐; "oven"). 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 鱼/魚 (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–Gilesneeds to use the umlaut to distinguish between _chü_ (pinyin _ju_) and _chu_ (pinyin _zhu_), this ambiguity cannot 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 吕 (_Lǚ _), a fairly common surname, particularly compared to the surname 陆 (Lù ), 鲁 (Lǔ ), 卢 (Lú ) and 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 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_.


See also: Chinese language
Chinese language
romanization in Taiwan

(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 switched to _Hanyu Pinyin_. _Tongyong Pinyin_ ("official phonetic"), a variant of pinyin 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
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
Hanyu Pinyin
while the Democratic Progressive Party
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. A few localities with governments controlled by the KMT, most notably Taipei
, Hsinchu
, and Kinmen County, overrode the order and converted to _Hanyu Pinyin_ before the January 1, 2009 national-level switch, though with a slightly different capitalization convention than mainland China. Most areas of Taiwan
adopted Tongyong Pinyin, consistent with the national policy. After 2009 switch, many street signs in Taiwan
today still display _Tongyong Pinyin_ but some, especially in northern Taiwan, display _Hanyu Pinyin_. It is still not unusual to see spellings on street signs and buildings derived from the older Wade–Giles, MPS2and other systems.

The adoption of _Hanyu Pinyin_ as the official romanization system in Taiwan
does not preclude the official retention of earlier spellings. International familiarity has led to the retention of the spelling _ Taipei
_ ("Taibei" in pinyin systems) and even to its continuation in the name of New Taipei
, a municipality created in 2010. Personal names on Taiwanese passports honor the choices of Taiwanese citizens, who often prefer the Wade–Gilesromanization of their personal names. Transition to Hanyu Pinyin
Hanyu Pinyin
in official use is also necessarily gradual. Universities and other government entities retain earlier spellings in long-established names, and budget restraints preclude widespread replacement of signage and stationery in every area. Primary education in Taiwan
continues to teach pronunciation using _zhuyin _ (MPS or Mandarin Phonetic Symbols).


is now used by foreign students learning Chinese as a second language.

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
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–Gilessystem, 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.


_a, e, o_ IPA A ɔ ɛ ɤ AI EI AU OU AN əN Aŋ əŋ ʊŋ Aɚ

PINYIN a o ê e ai ei ao ou an en ang eng ong er

TONGYONG PINYIN a o e e ai ei ao ou an en ang eng ong er

WADE–GILES a o eh ê/o ai ei ao ou an ên ang êng ung êrh

ZHUYIN ㄚ ㄛ ㄝ ㄜ ㄞ ㄟ ㄠ ㄡ ㄢ ㄣ ㄤ ㄥ ㄨㄥ ㄦ

EXAMPLE 阿 哦 呗 俄 艾 黑 凹 偶 安 恩 昂 冷 中 二

_i, u, y_ IPA I JE JOU JɛN IN Iŋ Jʊŋ U WO WEI WəN Wəŋ Y ɥE ɥɛN YN

PINYIN yi ye you yan yin ying yong wu wo/o wei wen weng yu yue yuan yun

TONGYONG PINYIN yi ye you yan yin ying yong wu wo/o wei wun wong yu yue yuan yun

WADE–GILES i/yi yeh yu yen yin ying yung wu wo/o wei wên wêng yü yüeh yüan yün

ZHUYIN ㄧ ㄧㄝ ㄧㄡ ㄧㄢ ㄧㄣ ㄧㄥ ㄩㄥ ㄨ ㄨㄛ/ㄛ ㄨㄟ ㄨㄣ ㄨㄥ ㄩ ㄩㄝ ㄩㄢ ㄩㄣ

EXAMPLE 一 也 又 言 音 英 用 五 我 位 文 翁 玉 月 元 云

Non-sibilant consonants IPA P Pʰ M Fəŋ TJOU TWEI TWəN Tʰɤ NY LY Kɤɚ Kʰɤ Xɤ

PINYIN b p m feng diu dui dun te nü lü ger ke he

TONGYONG PINYIN b p m fong diou duei dun te nyu lyu ger ke he

WADE–GILES p pʻ m fêng tiu tui tun tʻê nü lü kor kʻo ho

ZHUYIN ㄅ ㄆ ㄇ ㄈㄥ ㄉㄧㄡ ㄉㄨㄟ ㄉㄨㄣ ㄊㄜ ㄋㄩ ㄌㄩ ㄍㄜㄦ ㄎㄜ ㄏㄜ

EXAMPLE 玻 婆 末 封 丟 兌 顿 特 女 旅 歌儿 可 何

Sibilant consonants IPA TɕJɛN TɕJʊŋ TɕʰIN ɕɥɛN ʈʂɤ ʈʂɨ ʈʂʰɤ ʈʂʰɨ ʂɤ ʂɨ ɻɤ ɻɨ TSɤ TSWO TSɨ TSʰɤ TSʰɨ Sɤ Sɨ

PINYIN jian jiong qin xuan zhe zhi che chi she shi re ri ze zuo zi ce ci se si

TONGYONG PINYIN jian jyong cin syuan jhe jhih che chih she shih re rih ze zuo zih ce cih se sih

WADE–GILES chien chiung chʻin hsüan chê chih chʻê chʻih shê shih jê jih tsê tso tzŭ tsʻê tzʻŭ sê ssŭ

ZHUYIN ㄐㄧㄢ ㄐㄩㄥ ㄑㄧㄣ ㄒㄩㄢ ㄓㄜ ㄓ ㄔㄜ ㄔ ㄕㄜ ㄕ ㄖㄜ ㄖ ㄗㄜ ㄗㄨㄛ ㄗ ㄘㄜ ㄘ ㄙㄜ ㄙ

EXAMPLE 件 窘 秦 宣 哲 之 扯 赤 社 是 惹 日 仄 左 字 策 次 色 斯


PINYIN mā má mǎ mà ma

TONGYONG PINYIN ma má mǎ mà må

WADE–GILES ma1 ma2 ma3 ma4 ma

ZHUYIN ㄇㄚ ㄇㄚˊ ㄇㄚˇ ㄇㄚˋ ˙ㄇㄚ



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 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 editor. Alternatively, some PDAs , tablet computers , and digitizing tablets allow users to input characters graphically by writing with a stylus , with concurrent online handwriting recognition .


See also: SASM/GNC romanizationand Tibetan pinyin

Pinyin-like systems have been devised for other variants of Chinese. Guangdong Romanizationis a set of romanizations devised by the government of Guangdong
province for Cantonese
, Teochew , Hakka ( Moiyen dialect), and 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
Hanyu Pinyin
Letters of Place Names in Minority Nationality Languages_ (少数民族语地名汉语拼音字母音译转写法; 少數民族語地名漢語拼音字母音譯寫法) promulgated in 1976, place names in non-Han languages like Mongolian , Uyghur , and 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, ü, 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:


Xigazê 日喀則 日喀则 Rìkāzé

Urumchi Ürümqi
烏魯木齊 乌鲁木齐 Wūlǔmùqí

Lhasa 拉薩 拉萨 Lāsà

Hohhot 呼和浩特 呼和浩特 Hūhéhàotè

Golmud 格爾木 格尔木 Gé'ěrmù

Qiqihar 齊齊哈爾 齐齐哈尔 Qíqíhā'ěr

_ 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 , Hakka , and aboriginal languages .


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


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