Introduction to Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin written with the English alphabet (Pinyin)

The vast majority of Pinyin is pronounced in a similar way to English, for example:

Hello = nihao
UK = yingguo (pronounced ying-gwo)
Mandarin = hanyu
Culture = wenhua (pronounced wen-hwa)

For more on Pinyin, follow the link below:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinyin

The four tones

Every word in Mandarin has one of four basic tones:

Plate (high) tone –

Rising tone /

Falling-Rising tone \/

Falling tone \

The Plate tone’s pronunciation is similar to a small “aaah” you may let out at the doctor’s in anticipation of having an injection.
The Rising tone is the same intonation you use when asking a question, for example, “sure?”.
The Falling-Rising tone is like when you are confused and you ask “what?”.
The Falling tone is like when you have just achieved something and you call out “yes!”.

For more on the four Mandarin tones including an example of how they are pronounced, see here:
https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Chinese_(Mandarin)/Using_Tones

Chinese characters

Originally Chinese characters were drawings which were then changed many times over thousands of years. Some characters still look similar to their original meaning and therefore are easy to learn, for example:

Mountain: 山 shān (looks like a mountain)

Sun: 日 rì (looks like a window the sun might shine through)

Person/People: 人 rén

Follow: 从 cóng (looks like one person following another)

A lot of people: 众 zhòng (three is a crowd so it’s a lot of people)

Tree: 木 mù

Forest: 林 lín (two trees make a forest)

Dense forest: 森 sēn (three trees make the forest dense)

For more on Chinese characters including the history please see the following link:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_characters

Basic sentence order

The basic sentence order in Mandarin is often the same as English and the grammar is simple, for example:

I like Mandarin/Chinese: 我喜欢汉语。wǒ (I) xǐhuān (like) hànyǔ (Mandarin).

I am Chinese: 我是中国人。wǒ (I) shì (am) zhōngguórén (Chinese).

As you can see Mandarin is not a hard language to learn so why not start now?

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