Help:IPA for Mandarin

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The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Standard Chinese (also called Mandarin) pronunciations in Wikipedia articles. The representations of these sounds in the standard romanization (pinyin) are also shown.

See Standard Chinese phonology for more detail on the sounds of the language. Please note that English equivalents given in this page may only represent loose approximations to the original pronunciations.

IPA Pinyin English approximation
p b span
pʰ p pan
m m moon
f f fan
t d stand
tʰ t tan
n n noon
l l leaf
k g skim
kʰ k cup
x h loch (Scottish English)
j roughly like edgy
ʰ q roughly like cheat
ɕ x roughly like she
zh roughly like jaw
ʰ ch roughly like church
ʂ sh roughly like show; Russian Ш
ɻ -r air (American English)
ts z roughly like seeds
tsʰ c tsunami (with t pronounced)
s s see
j y-, -i- you
w w-, -u- water
ŋ -ng song
ɥ yu-, -ü-[a] (simultaneous y and w); French nuit
ʐ r- roughly like pleasure; Russian Ж
IPA Pinyin English approximation
a a buy
ɑ a (ang), e (er) car (short vowel)
ɛ e (ye), a (yan, yuan, ian) roughly like yes
œ e (yue) roughly like bird; German ö
ə e (en[b]) about
ɤ e (eng) roughly like American sir
i yi/-i (yi, yin, ying) see (short vowel)
ɨ i (si, zi, ci, shi, zhi, chi, ri) roughly like glasses[c]
ɔ o war (short vowel)
u wu/-u shoe (short vowel)
ʊ o (ong) hook
y yu/-ü[a] (yu, yun) roughly like few; French tu
ai bye
ɑʊ ao roughly like now
ei[b] day
ou[b] roughly like no
Nasal vowels[d]
ɑ̃ ang (angr) French croissant
ə̃ eng (engr) roughly like uh-huh
ʊ̃ ong (ongr) roughly like own
IPA Pinyin Description
ǎ á tone 2: mid rising: ˧˥
â à tone 4: high falling: ˥˩
á ā tone 1: high: ˥
à ǎ tone 3: medially, low: ˩
initially, mid falling: ˧˩
finally, low rising: ˩˧
in isolation, dipping: ˧˩˧
a a "toneless":
low after the high falling tone ˥˩ and the high tone ˥ ;
mid after all other tones


  1. ^ a b ü ([y], [ɥ]) is spelled u after j, q, x as [u], [w] cannot occur after these consonants.
  2. ^ a b c wei, you, wen are spelled ui, iu, un respectively in pinyin, but pronounced identically, when preceded by a consonant.
  3. ^ Slightly "buzzing" vowels, and the frication of the preceding consonant may continue through the vowel. In si, zi, ci, the vowel may be a further back [ɯ].
  4. ^ Only occurs in erhua and generally not considered part of the main vowel inventory.

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