Welcome to part 2 of the Best Chinese Words to Practice as a Beginner: The Definitive List. Whilst previously we covered initial sounds, now we're going to make a start on finals. If you missed The Definitive List: Part 1, be sure to take a look and add those words to your vocubulary

So! Without further ado, let's get started.

Simply click on the numbers next to a word to listen to its pronunciation.

Finals

The Best Words for Pronouncing Pinyin Finals

.

a - Like 'ah' in 'ah hah!'

Pretty simple, keep your pronunciation the same as 'ah' in English and you'll be having that eureka moment before you know it!

Example #1: Bàba 爸爸 - father

male voice female voice

Example #2: Māmā 妈妈 - mom

male voice female voice

Example #3: Dàyé 大爷 - uncle

male voice female voice

Example #4: Yālì 压力 - pressure

male voice female voice

Example #5: Fāxiàn 发现 - Find

male voice female voice
.

ai - Like 'eye' in 'eye'

Relatively simple due to its similarity with English. Just try pronouncing 'eye', or 'aye' as though you were a pirate (without the gruff tone of voice of course).

Example #1: Àihào 爱好 - hobbies

male voice female voice

Example #2: Lái 来 - come

male voice female voice

Example #3: Mǎi 买 - buy

male voice female voice

Example #4: Táiwān 台湾 - Taiwan

male voice female voice

Example #5: Kāi 开 - open

male voice female voice
.

ao - Like 'ou' in 'proud'

A bit different, but not by too much. Try isolating the 'ou' sound in 'proud' or 'sour' and pronouncing that on its own.

Example #1: Kǎoshì 考试 - examination

male voice female voice

Example #2: Gāo 高 - high

male voice female voice

Example #3: Táo 逃 - escape

male voice female voice

Example #4: Lǎoshī 老师 - teacher

male voice female voice

Example #5: Nǎodai 脑袋 - Head

male voice female voice
.

an - Like 'an' in 'man'

Just like in English.

Example #1: Ānquán 安全 - safety

male voice female voice

Example #2: Sǎn 伞 - umbrella

male voice female voice

Example #3: Kàn 看 - Look

male voice female voice

Example #4: Gàn 干 - dry

male voice female voice

Example #5: Pànwàng 盼望 - hope

male voice female voice
.

ang - Like 'ah' in 'ah hah' and 'ng' in 'sing'

You can make the 'ang' sound in Mandarin by combining the Mandarin Chinese 'a' sound with the same 'ng' sound you'll find in English.

Example #1: Fángzi 房子 - house

male voice female voice

Example #2: Gāngcái 刚才 - just now

male voice female voice

Example #3: Hángzhōu 杭州 - Hangzhou

male voice female voice

Example #4: Láng 狼 - wolf

male voice female voice

Example #5: Pàng 胖 - fat

male voice female voice
.

o - Like 'o' in 'bore'

To make the 'o' sound like a pro in Mandarin Chinese, you'll need to make the same shape as though you were saying the 'o' in 'bore'. Your tongue should be slightly curled, but not as much as with 'zh', 'ch', or 'sh'.

Example #1: Wǒ 我 - I

male voice female voice

Example #2: Bòfàng 播放 - play

male voice female voice

Example #3: Mò 莫 - Mo

male voice female voice
.

ong - Like 'ong' in 'song'

The same as it sounds in English.

Example #1: Dōng 东 - east

male voice female voice

Example #2: Gōngxǐ 恭喜 - congratulations

male voice female voice

Example #3: Hóng 洪 - flood

male voice female voice

Example #4: Kǒngzǐ 孔子 - Confucius

male voice female voice

Example #5: Sòng 宋 - Song (dynasty)

male voice female voice
.

ou - Like 'ou' in 'dough'

For a sound present in the word which means mouth, you won't have to open yours too wide to pronounce it properly. Try pronouncing 'ou' in words like 'dough', but make sure you don't pronounce the slight 'gh' sound which comes after.

Example #1: Tǔdòu 土豆 - potato

male voice female voice

Example #2: Fǒu 否 - no

male voice female voice

Example #3: Hòulái 后来 - later

male voice female voice

Example #4: Kǒu 口 - mouth

male voice female voice

Example #5: Tóu 头 - head

male voice female voice
.

e - Like 'uh' in 'duh'

'e' can be a tricky one in Chinese finals. It's not at all like the English 'e', which can put off beginners trying to master its pronunciation. It sounds a lot like 'uh'. Imagine having a stomach ache (maybe from hunger) and making that sound. You should have it down.

Example #1: Hē shuǐ 喝水 - drink water

male voice female voice

Example #2: Zhèngcè 政策 - policy

male voice female voice

Example #3: Dàodé 道德 - moral

male voice female voice

Example #4: Gēgē 哥哥 - brother

male voice female voice

Example #5: Zhǎozé 沼泽 - swamp

male voice female voice
.

ei - Like 'ei' from 'eight'

'ei' might catch you by surprise, especially considering that all the other 'e' sounds in pinyin sound like 'uh'. 'ei' actually sounds like its English counterpart though. Try pronouncing 'ei' from 'eight'.

Example #1: Bèizi 被子 - quilt

male voice female voice

Example #2: Dé 得 - get it

male voice female voice

Example #3: Fēi 飞 - fly

male voice female voice

Example #4: Gěilì 给力 - awesome

male voice female voice

Example #5: Léi 雷 - thunder

male voice female voice
.

en - Like 'un' from 'sun'

Try pronouncing the 'un' sound from English, but this one isn't exactly the same. The sound should originate from the back of your mouth as opposed to in your throat, and your tongue should be slightly curved. It's almost as though it were a cross between the English 'en' and 'un'. It's somewhere in the middle.

Example #1: Běnzi 本子 - book

male voice female voice

Example #2: Fēnshǒu 分手 - break up

male voice female voice

Example #3: Hěn 很 - very

male voice female voice

Example #4: Wǒmen 我们 - we

male voice female voice

Example #5: Rén 人 - people

male voice female voice
.

eng - Like 'ung' from 'sung'

Similar to 'en'. Try pronouncing it as though you were making a sound somewhere between the English 'eng' and 'ung'. It is, however, closer to 'eng'.

Example #1: Děng 等 - wait

male voice female voice

Example #2: Méng 萌 - cute

male voice female voice

Example #3: Yǒnghéng 永恒 – eternal

male voice female voice

Example #4: Rēng 扔 - throw

male voice female voice

Example #5: Xuéshēng 学生 - student

male voice female voice
.

er - Like 'ar' in 'bar'

'er' sounds similar to 'ar' in English. It's another pirate sound, ya- har!

Example #1: Érzi 儿子 - son

male voice female voice
.

i - Like 'ee' in 'bee'

'i' doesn't have the same short, sharp sound you expect in English, instead, it's a longer sound similar to 'ee'.

Example #1: Bìxū 必须 - have to

male voice female voice

Example #2: Lǐjiě 理解 - understanding

male voice female voice

Example #3: Nǐ 你 - you

male voice female voice

Example #4: Jīdàn 鸡蛋 - egg

male voice female voice

Example #5: Sīxiǎng 思想 - thought

male voice female voice
.

ia - Like 'ia' in 'iago'

'ia' sounds pretty much the way you would expect a combination of the Mandarin Chinese 'i' and 'a' sounds together would. Make sure that middle of your tongue starts against the roof of your mouth, and then pushes off as you move to the 'uh' sounding 'a'.

Example #1: Jiǎshè 假设 - hypothesis

male voice female voice
.

iao - Like 'ee' in 'bee' and 'ou' in 'proud'

Combine the Mandarin sounds of 'i' and 'ao' together to create this sound. Put more stress on the 'ao' sound.

Example #1: Jiǎo 脚 – foot

male voice female voice

Example #2: Qiǎohé 巧合 - coincidence

male voice female voice

Example #3: Tiáozhěng 调整 - adjustment

male voice female voice

Example #4: Diàoyú 钓鱼 - fishing

male voice female voice

Example #5: Biǎoshì 表示 - said

male voice female voice
.

ie - Like 'ee' in 'bee' and 'eh' in 'meh'

Notice that the 'e' sound in 'ie' is slightly different than 'e' on its own. The pitch should be slightly higher.
After you've mastered this, the trick to pronouncing 'ie' correctly is to make sure that you stress the 'e' part. The 'i' should be relatively short and sweet, taken over by the 'e' sound quickly.

Example #1: Bié 别 - do not

male voice female voice

Example #2: Dié 蝶 - butterfly

male voice female voice

Example #3: Rèliè 热烈 - warm

male voice female voice

Example #4: Jiérì 节日 - festival

male voice female voice

Example #5: Xièxiè 谢谢 - thank you

male voice female voice
.

iu - Like 'ee' in 'bee' and 'ow' in 'bow'

Whilst the 'i' sound remains the same, the 'u' sound is a bit different. Pronounce it as though you were trying to pronounce 'ow' in 'bow'.

Example #1: Diūshī 丢失 - lost

male voice female voice

Example #2: Niúnǎi 牛奶 - milk

male voice female voice

Example #3: Liù 六 – six

male voice female voice

Example #4: Yǒngjiǔ 永久 - permanent

male voice female voice

Example #5: Xiūxí 休息 - rest

male voice female voice
.

ian - Like 'ee' in 'bee' and 'en' in 'ben'

Similar to the longer 'i' forms above, make sure to stress the second sound of 'en' more than the 'i' sound.

Example #1: Qīpiàn 欺骗 - deceive

male voice female voice

Example #2: Miànbāo 面包 - bread

male voice female voice

Example #3: Diànhuà 电话 - phone

male voice female voice

Example #4: Tiānkōng 天空 - sky

male voice female voice

Example #5: Xīnnián 新年 - new year

male voice female voice
.

iang - Like the Mandarin Chinese 'i' and 'ang'

Just combine the Mandarin Chinese sounds of 'i' and 'ang'. Make sure to stress the 'i' sound, though.

Example #1: Xīnniáng 新娘 - bride

male voice female voice

Example #2: Liángkuai 凉快 – cool

male voice female voice

Example #3: Jiǎnglì 奖励 - reward

male voice female voice

Example #4: Qiāng 枪 - gun

male voice female voice

Example #5: Dà xiàng 大象 - elephant

male voice female voice
.

in - Like 'in' in 'pin'

Nothing particularly surprising here. This is the same as it sounds in English.

Example #1: Bīn bīn yǒulǐ 彬彬有礼 - polite

male voice female voice

Example #2: Pīnxiě 拼写 - spell

male voice female voice

Example #3: Rénmín 人民 - people

male voice female voice

Example #4: Nín hǎo 您好 - hello

male voice female voice

Example #5: Lín 林 - forest

male voice female voice
.

ing - Like 'ing' in 'sing'

Same as English. Enough said.

Example #1: Shēngbìng 生病 - sick

male voice female voice

Example #2: Píng'ān 平安 – safe

male voice female voice

Example #3: Míngbái 明白 - understand

male voice female voice

Example #4: Juédìng 决定 - Decision

male voice female voice

Example #5: Tīngjiàn 听见 – hear

male voice female voice
.

iong - Like 'ee' in 'bee' and 'ong' in 'kong'

Relatively rare when it comes to Pinyin sounds. You'll probably only come across 'iong' occasionally, but it's a good sound to be able to recognise regardless.

Example #1: Cāngqióng 苍穹 - the sky

male voice female voice

Example #2: Jiǒng 囧 - oops

male voice female voice

Example #3: Xióng 熊 - Bear

male voice female voice
.

u - Like like 'oo' in 'spoon'

Imagine you've just picked out that perfect outfit at the store. You're admiring it, and that unavoidable 'oo' escapes your mouth. That's the sound you should be making here, except it probably shouldn't last for as long.
Make sure that your lips are rounded and the sound originates closer to your throat than you might expect in English.

Example #1: Bùmén 部门 - department

male voice female voice

Example #2: Pǔtōng 普通 - ordinary

male voice female voice

Example #3: Mùdì 目的 - purpose

male voice female voice

Example #4: Xìngfú 幸福 – happy

male voice female voice

Example #5: Zū 租 - rent

male voice female voice
.

ua - Like 'wha' in 'whaaa?'

Imagine making the (probably most frequently seen online) 'whaaa?' question and you've pretty much got the right sound for 'ua'. Make sure to remove the questioning tone though.

Example #1: Guā fēng 刮风 - Windy

male voice female voice

Example #2: Kuājiǎng 夸奖 - Praise

male voice female voice

Example #3: Huā 花 - flower

male voice female voice

Example #4: Wánshuǎ 玩耍 - play

male voice female voice
.

uo - Like 'w' and 'o'

Try pronouncing 'uo' as though ou were combining the English sounds of 'w' and 'o' together. It shouldn't sound like 'whoa' or 'woe'. This isn't a radical sadness!
Top Top! One of the most important words in Mandarin Chinese uses the sound of 'uo'. Can you guess what that is? That's right, it's 我 wǒ (I). Make sure that you can say it if you ever want to communicate anything about yourself.

Example #1: Zuòzuo 做作 - affectation

male voice female voice

Example #2: Shuǐguǒ 水果 - fruit

male voice female voice

Example #3: Kuòzhǎn 扩展 - extended

male voice female voice

Example #4: Huǒ 火 - fire

male voice female voice

Example #5: Suōxiǎo 缩小 - Shrink down

male voice female voice
.

ui - Like 'way'

Again, the 'u' comes to sound a lot like a 'w' sounds in English. Say the English word 'way' and you'll have 'ui' down.

Example #1: Duì 对 - correct

male voice female voice

Example #2: Zhǐhuī 指挥 - command

male voice female voice

Example #3: Guìzhōu 贵州 - Guizhou

male voice female voice

Example #4: Chīkuī 吃亏 - Suffer

male voice female voice

Example #5: Zuìhòu 最后 - At last

male voice female voice
.

uai - Like 'why'

Top Tip! The Pinyin 'wai' is pronounced in the exact same way you would expect the 'uai' sound to be pronounced on its own. You'll notice this on the Pinyin Chart towards the top of this article.

Example #1: Kuài 快 - fast

male voice female voice

Example #2: Guāiqiǎo 乖巧 - clever

male voice female voice

Example #3: Huáiyùn 怀孕 - pregnancy

male voice female voice
.

uan - Like 'w' and 'an'

Simply pronounce a typical English 'w' sound followed by 'an'. Make sure to stress the 'w' a bit more than you might have done before. Check the example for how it's done.

Example #1: Yuánquān 圆圈 - circle

male voice female voice

Example #2: Kuān 宽 - width

male voice female voice

Example #3: Luàn 乱 - chaos

male voice female voice

Example #4: Huānlè 欢乐 – joy

male voice female voice

Example #5: Gōngyuán 公园 - park

male voice female voice
.

un - Like 'w' and 'n'

Similar to above, stress the 'w' sound a bit more when combining 'w' and 'an'.

Example #1: Gǔndàn 滚蛋 - Get out of bed

male voice female voice

Example #2: Dūn 吨 - ton

male voice female voice

Example #3: Xìjùn 细菌 - bacterial

male voice female voice

Example #4: Jiéhūn 结婚 - marry

male voice female voice

Example #5: Sūnzi 孙子 - grandson

male voice female voice
.

uang - Like 'w' and 'ang'

Derek might be buying eggs, but Irine knows how to say butter in Chinese. Combine an English 'w' in front of the chinese 'ang' and you'll also be able to.

Example #1: Fēngkuáng 疯狂 - crazy

male voice female voice

Example #2: Huángdì 皇帝 - emperor

male voice female voice

Example #3: Zhuàng 撞 - hit

male voice female voice

Example #5: Chuáng 床 - bed

male voice female voice
.

Ü - Like 'oo' but different

Purse your lips into a small circle and then move your tongue so that it touches the inside of your bottom lip. Finally, make an 'oo' sound. This strange version of 'oo' is the Mandarin Chinese sound of 'Ü'.

Example #1: Lǚyóu 旅游 - tourism

male voice female voice

Example #2: Jùzi 句子 - sentence

male voice female voice

Example #3: Nǚshén 女神 - goddess

male voice female voice

Example #4: Jūmín 居民 - residents

male voice female voice

Example #5: Qūbié 区别 - the difference

male voice female voice

Conclusion

Mastery of these words and sounds will come over time. Now go and have a little break and play with your fidget spinner. If you haven't already, make sure to go and read the Ultimate Guide to Chinese Pronunciation, or if you really think you're ready for it, The Three Levels of Chinese Reading Materials for Learners.