Pronouncing words in Mandarin: Finals

What are finals in Mandarin?

Mandarin characters don’t tell you how to pronounce a word.

Pinyin was invented to help those learning Mandarin with pronunciation - listen 拼音 pīn yīn literally translates to ‘spell sound’.

As shown, the sound of a character consists of an initial, a final and one of four tones or a neutral tone.

Finals are the second part of a mandarin syllable and may consist of one or more vowel sounds.

Some characters might not have initials, but all of them have finals.

How do you pronounce finals in Mandarin?

Once you know the sound of each vowel, you can figure out the sounds of the finals.

a - listen (horse)

o - listen 外婆 wài pó (grandmother on mother's side)

e - listen chē (vehicle)

i - listen (four)

u - listen (five)

ü - listen 女孩 nǚ hái (girl)

ai - listen 奶奶 nǎi nai (grandmother on father's side)

ei - listen 妹妹 mèi mei (younger sister)

ui - listen suì (years old)

ao - listen māo (cat)

ou - listen gǒu (dog)

iu - listen jiǔ (nine)

ie - listen 姐姐 jiě jie (older sister)

üe - listen 月亮 yuè liang (moon)

The two dots of ‘ü’ are removed when together with the ‘j’, ‘q’, ‘x’ and ‘y’ initials, but the pronunciation remains the same

er - listen èr (two)

an - listen sān (three)

en - listen 衬衫 chèn shān (shirt)

in - listen 钢琴 gāng qín (piano)

un - listen 春天 chūn tiān (Spring)

ün - listen yún (cloud)

The two dots of ‘ü’ are removed when together with the ‘j’, ‘q’, ‘x’ and ‘y’ initials, but the pronunciation remains the same

ang - listen yáng (sheep)

eng - listen lěng (cold)

ing - listen 电影 diàn yīng (movie)

ong - listen lóng (dragon)

Did you know?

For many Mandarin sounds, once the pronunciation of their initials and finals is known, the pronunciation of the full word can be figured out by combining the two with their tone, for example:

Initial - j

Final - i and ao

Tone - v (down then up)

Initial - d

Final - u and an

Tone - v (down then up)

Initial - ch

Final - ang

Tone - ´ (rising)

Dash and Blink: Missing Mandarin
Test your maths and times table skills!