Mandarin Chinese/Pinyin/U

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This lesson you will learn:

  • The letters U and Ü
  • Compound and Nasal finals containing the letter U
  • Tones
  • NG

The Letter U[edit]

"U" is pronounced "oo".

Compound and Nasal Finals Containing U[edit]

  • ou- oh
  • iou- yo
  • uo- woah
  • uei- way
  • ua- water
  • uai- why
  • uan- wahn
  • uen- wuhn

Like with "i", "u" become "w" initially.

Tones[edit]

As many know, Chinese is a tonal language. This means that the way you pronounce a word can change its meaning. For example:

Character Meaning Pinyin Tone
妈妈 Mom Māma Flat
Hemp Rising
Horse Change
To Scold Falling
Question Particle Ma Neutral
  • The flat line means your voice is Higher and Level: āēīōūǖ
  • The falling line means your voice drops, like you are angry: àèìòùǜ
  • The line going down and up means your voice drops and rises again: ǎěǐǒǔǚ
  • The rising line means your voice goes up, like you are asking a question: áéíóúǘ
  • No line means you voice is Lower and Level: aeiouü

Ü is the ONE vowel sound in Chinese but not English. If you know German, yes, it is the same sound, and to those who know French it is a "U". But for the rest of us...

The Letter Ü[edit]

Pronounce this vowel "ee" but with your lips rounded like you were pronouncing "oo"

Rules About, and Compounds With Ü[edit]

  • üe- +eh
  • ün- +n
  • üan- +ahn

Like i become y and u becomes w, ü becomes yu. The finals after this rule

Final Without Initial
ü yu
üe yue
ün yun
üan yuan

NG[edit]

NG acts just like N in a nasal final. And here they are: ang, iang, uang, eng, ing, yong, ong