Help:IPA for Mandarin

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The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Standard Mandarin pronunciations in Wikipedia articles. See Standard Chinese phonology for more detail on the sounds of the language.

Note that English equivalents given in this page may represent only loose approximations to the original pronunciations.

IPA Pinyin Wade–Giles Bopomofo Chinese Example English approximation
p b p 幫 (帮) span
p p' pan
m m moon
f f fan
t d t stop
t t' top
n n- noon
-n ㄣ, ㄢ 金, 尖
l l 來 (来) leaf
k g k skin
k k' kin
ŋ -ng ㄥ, ㄤ 井, 江 song
x h Scottish English: loch; often weakened to /h/ as hat
j ch like itchy, pronounced further forward toward the teeth (palatalized).[a]
tɕʰ q ch' like cheap, pronounced more forward, toward the teeth (palatalized).[a]
ɕ x hs 曉 (晓) like sheep, pronounced more forward, toward the teeth (palatalized).[a]
ʈʂ zh ch like jaw, with a flat tongue (retroflex).
ʈʂʰ ch ch' like church, with a flat tongue (retroflex).
ʂ sh like show, with a flat tongue (retroflex).
ɻ r- j like red, with a flat tongue (retroflex); sometimes pronounced as /ʐ/ like vision.
ts z ts roughly like seats
tsʰ c ts' tsunami (with t pronounced)
s s same
Syllabic consonants
ɻ̩ zhi, chi, shi, ri ih U+312D.svg[b] 之, 吃, 師 (师), 日 roughly like glasses[c]
ɹ̩ zi, ci, si û 子, 次, 私
IPA Pinyin Wade–Giles Bopomofo Chinese Example English approximation
a a ㄚ, ㄢ, ㄤ 阿, 安, 盎 father
er êrh
ɛ yan/-ian yen/-ien ㄧㄢ Varies between /e/ and /a/
yuan/-üan ㄩㄢ
e ye/-ie, yue/-üe eh 也, 月 yes
ə en,[d] eng ên, êng ㄣ, ㄥ 本, 冷 about
ɤ e ê[e]
o wo/-uo[f] o[g] war in British English
i yi/-i see
ʊ -ong -ung ㄨㄥ, ㄩㄥ 冬, 用 Varies between /o/ and /u/
u wu/-u shoe
y yu/-ü[h] yü/-ü German: ü; French: tu
y-/-i- yes
w-/-u- water
yu-/-ü-[h] yü-/-ü- French: nuit
ai̯ ai time
ei̯ ei[d] face
au̯ ao out
ou̯ ou[d] 歐 (欧) show
Rhotic vowel
ɚ -r -rh sir (American English)[i]
IPA Pinyin Wade–Giles Bopomofo Chinese Example Description
á ā a1 tone 1: high: ˥
ǎ á a2 ˊ tone 2: mid rising: ˧˥
à ǎ a3 ˇ tone 3:
medially, low: ˩
initially, mid falling: ˧˩
finally, low rising: ˩˧
in isolation, dipping: ˧˩˧
â à a4 ˋ tone 4: high falling: ˥˩
a a a0 ˙ "toneless":
low after the high falling tone ˥˩;
mid after other tones
Note: Pinyin has the same diacritics but with different values.


  1. ^ a b c /tɕ/, /tɕʰ/, and /ɕ/ are always followed by /i/ or /y/.
  2. ^ Note that this symbol is rarely used, usually omitted during writing.
  3. ^ Voiced continuants (also transcribed /ɨ/, /ɯ/ or /ʐ̩/, //) reflecting the character of the preceding consonant
  4. ^ a b c wei, you/yu, wen/wên are spelled respectively ui, iu, un in pinyin and Wade-Giles but are pronounced identically when they are preceded by a consonant.
  5. ^ ê is spelled o after k, k', and h in Wade-Giles.
  6. ^ uo is spelled o after b, p, m or f in Pinyin.
  7. ^ [ㄨㄛ] is spelled o, except for k, k', and h, which is kuo, k'uo, and huo respectively in Wade-Giles.
  8. ^ a b ü (/y/) is spelled u after j, q, x in pinyin since /u/ cannot occur after them.
  9. ^ The rhotic vowel also appears in erhua.


  • Lee, Wai-Sum; Zee, Eric (2003). "Standard Chinese (Beijing)". Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (1): 109–112. doi:10.1017/S0025100303001208. 
  • Duanmu, San (2007). The Phonology of Standard Chinese (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
  • Lin, Yen-Hwei (2007). The Sounds of Chinese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

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