Home
Chinese version

The Pronunciation of English Compared with that of Mandarin Pinyin
by Mary Ansell, copyright 1998


In the study of English, learning the following rules of English pronunciation permits rapid improvement in the ability to read and spell English words. Please note that English vowels and the consonant r are often pronounced differently in different countries. The pronunciation described here is that of Canadian English. First the consonants and then the vowels are discussed.


The English consonants are: b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z.

The English vowels are: a, e, i, o, u. The letter y can also act as a vowel.


The English Consonants


b
 For example, big. b is usually pronounced like "b" as in Mandarin pinyin "ba".
    However, in a few words, for example comb, b is silent.

c  For example, cat. c is usually pronounced like "k" as in pinyin "kan".
    However, before e, i or y, for example ceiling or city, c is usually pronounced like "s" as in pinyin "san".

ch  For example, chair. ch is usually pronounced somewhat like "q" as in pinyin "qin".

ck
 For example, back. ck is usually pronounced like "k" as in pinyin "kan".

d  For example, desk. d is usually pronounced like "d" as in pinyin "da".

dge  For example, bridge. dge is usually pronounced like "zh" as in pinyin "zhan".

f  For example, fish. f is usually pronounced like "f" as in pinyin "fu".

g  For example, go . g is usually pronounced like "g" as in pinyin "gou".
    However, before e, i or y, for example ginger, g is often pronounced like "j" as in pinyin "jin".

gh  In some words, for example, laugh, gh is pronounced like "f" as in pinyin "fu".
      However, in some words, for example, high, gh is silent.

h  For example, head . h is usually pronounced somewhat like "h" as in pinyin "hao".
    However, in a few words, for example hour, h is silent.

j  For example, jade . j is usually pronounced somewhat like "j" as in pinyin "jin".

k  For example, kitchen . k is usually pronounced like "k" as in pinyin "kan".

kn  For example, knife . kn is often pronounced like "n" as in pinyin "na".

l  For example, leaf . l is usually pronounced like "l" as in pinyin "lao".
   However, in a few words, for example talk, l is silent.

m  For example, moon . m is usually pronounced like "m" as in pinyin "mao".

n  For example, now . n is usually pronounced like "n" as in pinyin "na".

ng  For example, sing . The pronunciation of ng is usually similar to Mandarin pronunciation. For example, the ing of sing is pronounced like "ing" as in pinyin "bing".

p  For example, paper . p is usually pronounced like "p" as in pinyin "ping".

ph  For example, phone . ph is usually pronounced like "f" as in pinyin "fu".

qu  For example, quiet . qu is usually pronounced like English kw. For example, the qui of quiet is pronounced like pinyin "kuai".

r  For example, read . r is usually pronounced somewhat like "r" as in pinyin "ru".

s  For example, sun . s is often pronounced like "s" as in pinyin "san".
    However, in some words, for example nose, s is pronounced like English z.
    In a few words, for example, television, s is pronounced a little like "zh" as in pinyin "zhi"; however, the tongue does not stop the flow of air at the beginning of the sound, as is the case with pinyin "zhi".

sh  For example, ship . sh is usually pronounced somewhat like "x" as in pinyin "xiao".

t  For example, tea . t is usually pronounced like "t" as in pinyin "tou".

tch  For example, kitchen . tch is usually pronounced somewhat like "ch" as in pinyin "cha".

th  For example, think . th is usually pronounced a little like "x" as in pinyin "xiao"; however, the tip of the tongue must be placed between the front teeth.
    In some words, for example think, th is aspirated (i.e. pronounced with a puff of air).
    However, in some words, for example this, th is not aspirated.

tion  For example, action . tion is often pronounced like pinyin "shen".

v  For example, television . v is pronounced a little like "w" as in pinyin "wei"; however, the lower lip must touch the top front teeth.

w  For example, water . w is usually pronounced like "w" as in pinyin "wan".

wh  For example, what . wh is usually pronounced like "w" as in pinyin "wan".

wr  For example, write . wr is usually pronounced somewhat like "r" as in pinyin "ru".

x  For example, box . x is usually pronounced like English ks, where k is pronounced like "k" as in pinyin "kan", and s is pronounced like "s" as in pinyin "san".
    However, at the beginning of a word, for example xylophone, x is often pronounced like English z.

y  For example, yesterday . y is often pronounced like "y" as in pinyin "ye".
    In some words, for example city, y is pronounced like pinyin "yi".
    In some words, for example fly, y is pronounced like pinyin "ai".

z  For example, zoo . z is pronounced a little like "z" as in pinyin "zi"; however, the tongue does not stop the flow of air at the beginning of the sound, as is the case with pinyin "z".



The English Vowels


a
 Before two consonants, for example sand, the pronunciation of a is usually similar to Mandarin pronunciation. For example, the san of sand is pronounced like pinyin "san".
    Before a single consonant at the end of a word, for example fan, the pronunciation of a is usually similar to Mandarin pronunciation. For example, fan is pronounced like pinyin "fan".

    Before a single consonant followed by a vowel, for example fate, a is usually pronounced like "ei" as in pinyin "mei".

    Before l, for example all, a is usually pronounced somewhat like pinyin "a".
    After qu or w, for example water or squash, a is often pronounced somewhat like pinyin "a".

ai  For example, rain. ai is often pronounced like "ei" as in pinyin "mei".

au  For example, daughter. au is usually pronounced somewhat like pinyin "a".

aw  For example, saw. aw is usually pronounced somewhat like pinyin "a".

ay  For example, day. ay is usually pronounced like "ei" as in pinyin "mei".


e  Before two consonants, for example desk, e is usually pronounced like "e" as in pinyin "ye".
    Before a single consonant at the end of a word, for example bed, e is usually pronounced like "e" as in pinyin "ye".
    Before a single consonant followed by a vowel, in some words, for example ever, e is pronounced like "e" as in pinyin "ye".

    Before a single consonant followed by a vowel, in some words, for example even, e is pronounced like pinyin "yi".
    At the end of very short words, for example be, e is usually pronounced like pinyin "yi".

    At the end of a word, for example fate, e is usually silent. However, very short words are an exception, for example be.

ea  In some words, for example, bead, ea is pronounced like pinyin "yi".
    However, in some words, for example, head, ea is pronounced like "e" as in pinyin "ye".

ee  For example, green. ee is usually pronounced like pinyin "yi".

er  For example, her. er is usually pronounced somewhat like pinyin "er".

ew  For example, new. ew is often pronounced somewhat like "u" as in pinyin "tu".


i  Before two consonants, in some words, for example mint, the pronunciation of i is similar to Mandarin pronunciation. For example, the min of mint is pronounced like pinyin "min".
    Before a single consonant at the end of a word, for example pin, the pronunciation of i is usually similar to Mandarin pronunciation. For example, pin is pronounced like pinyin "pin".

    Before two consonants, in some words, for example wild, i is pronounced like pinyin "ai".
    Before a single consonant followed by a vowel, for example like, i is usually pronounced like pinyin "ai".

ie  In some words, for example, tie, ie is pronounced like pinyin "ai".
    However, in some words, for example, shield, ie is pronounced like pinyin "yi".


o  Before two consonants, in some words, for example rock, o is pronounced somewhat like pinyin "a".
    Before a single consonant at the end of a word, for example not, o is usually pronounced somewhat like pinyin "a".

    Before two consonants, in some words, for example old, o is pronounced like pinyin "ou".
    Before a single consonant followed by a vowel, for example note, o is usually pronounced like pinyin "ou".

oa  For example, boat. oa is usually pronounced like pinyin "ou".

oe  For example, toe. oe is often pronounced like pinyin "ou".

oi  For example, coin . The o is pronounced like pinyin "ou", and the i is pronounced like pinyin "yi".

oo  In some words, for example, moon, oo is pronounced like "u" as in pinyin "tu".
    However, in some words, for example, book, oo is pronounced somewhat like "e" as in pinyin "he".

ou  In some words, for example, round, ou is pronounced like pinyin "ao".
    However, ou also has several other pronunciations. In some words, for example "thought", ou is pronounced somewhat like pinyin "a".
    In some words, for example "although", ou is pronounced like pinyin "ou".
    In some words, for example "through", ou is pronounced like "u" as in pinyin "tu".
    In some words, for example "should", ou is pronounced somewhat like "e" as in pinyin "he".
    In some words, for example "enough", ou is pronounced somewhat like "o" as in pinyin "wo", but with the mouth opened a little wider.


ow  In some words, for example, now, ow is pronounced like pinyin "ao".
    However, in some words, for example, pillow, ow is pronounced like pinyin "ou".

oy  For example, boy . The o is pronounced like pinyin "ou", and the y is pronounced like pinyin "yi".


u  Before two consonants, in some words, for example pull, u is pronounced somewhat like "e" as in pinyin "he".
    Before a single consonant at the end of a word, in some words, for example put, u is pronounced somewhat like "e" as in pinyin "he".

    Before two consonants, in some words, for example duck, u is pronounced somewhat like "o" as in pinyin "wo", but with the mouth opened a little wider.
    Before one consonant at the end of a word, in some words, for example sun, u is pronounced somewhat like "o" as in pinyin "wo", but with the mouth opened a little wider.

    Before a single consonant followed by a vowel, for example June, u is usually pronounced like "u" as in pinyin "tu".

ue  For example, blue. ue is usually pronounced like "u" as in pinyin "tu".

ui  For example, fruit. ui is often pronounced like "u" as in pinyin "tu".  

Home
Chinese version