Syllables are basic units in modern chinese phonetics containing chiefly Initials, Finals and Tones.

1 - Initials

Syllables are initiated by Initials which mainly are consonants.

b     p     m     f     d     t     n     l

When Initials b, p, m, f stand alone, they should be pronounced as bo, po, mo, fo.

When Initials d, t, n, l stand alone, they're pronounced as de, te, ne, le.

2 - Finals

The element following the Initial in a syllable is called a Final. It is usually formed by either a single vowel or a vowel plus a nasal consonant.

a     o      e      ê      i      u      ü

Finals a, o, e, ê, i, u, ü are composed individually of only one vowel and are known as pure finals.

3 - Tones

A tone is indispensable to a syllable through which a syllable's high or low and rising or falling pitch gets indicated. In addition, a tone is used as a means for distinguishing meanings of words. Altogether there are four tones in modern Chinese.

feminine flat (the 1st tone)           ā    ō    ē    bū    dī

masculine flat (the 2nd tone)       á    ó    é    pú    tí

rising tone (the 3rd tone)            ǎ    ǒ    ě    mǔ    nǐ

falling tone (the 4th tone)            à    ò    è    fù    lì

Sound Changes