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Lesson 20 Pinyin Initials - Part 2

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In this lesson, continue your study of Chinese initials with four new sounds: 'zh', 'ch', 'sh', and 'r'. Remember, these sounds are not found in English so make sure to pay close attention to the explanations and practice yourself!
Lesson Audio Review
In this lesson, continue your study of Chinese initials with four new sounds: 'zh', 'ch', 'sh', and 'r'. Remember, these sounds are not found in English so make sure to pay close attention to the explanations and practice yourself!

Comments (32)

how to differentiate between q and ch ?
dinhqthai 3 months 1 week ago
Hi there! There is a ton of great info and demonstrations in the Pinyin Course which you can find here: https://www.yoyochinese.com/learn-Chinese/Mandarin-Chinese-pronunciation... Lessons 19 and 20 specifically should help you out! Also, check out the pinyin chart here for some directly comparisons: https://www.yoyochinese.com/chinese-learning-tools/Mandarin-Chinese-pron...
Jason at Yoyo Chinese 3 months 1 week ago
I was playing around with the consonant sounds, and noticing the similarities between "x" and "sh", "q" and "ch", and "j" and "zh", there is also an x-q-j version of the "r" initial sound, not in Mandarin but physically possible to produce. Are there any dialects of Chinese which make use of this r-analog sound?
ghollisjr 10 months 2 weeks ago
Hi, I'm sorry but not quite sure what you are describing. But I am sure there is probably a Chinese dialect with that sound since there are literally dozens! of Chinese dialects.
Jenny at Yoyo Chinese 10 months 2 weeks ago
In the video, the pronunciation of "re" 4th tone and "ri" 4th tone very similar to me. How do you distinguish between the two? Is it simply the context in which one uses them in a sentence?
Pauli F 1 year 1 month ago
It's definitely easier to understand pinyin in a sentence then in isolation. But the re has more of the eh/ugh sound to the e, for extra help you can check out the video demonstration in our Pinyin Chart above!
Jenny at Yoyo Chinese 1 year 1 month ago edited
My mother-in-law is from Shang Hai and she pronounces "r" differently. Her tongue is rolled up and almost sounds like a combination of R and L. I've also noticed the "r" is pronounced the same way as my mother-in-law pronounces it in the Anki decks. Is it more prominent in China to pronounce "r" as "ge" or is this pronunciation just specific to one region?
cvanceaip 1 year 6 months ago
Pronunciation in China does vary quite a bit regionally but in standard Mandarin, if you pronounce "r" as "ge" as in the video, you would be correct.
Jenny at Yoyo Chinese 1 year 6 months ago
My wife is from Taiwan. She pronounces initial "ch" with almost a "ts" or "s" sound to it. I've also heard this in videos outside of YoYo. Is this a dialect / regional difference?
Yabrdvnthl 1 year 8 months ago
Yes, it's very similar to "ts", but not too much of the "s" sound. It may be a dialect difference.
Yoyo Chinese 1 year 8 months ago
Hello, I am trying to understand if there is a significant difference in pronouncing chun vs quan. I think the difference is very subtle and sound similar.
AJnathan 1 year 9 months ago
They do sound somewhat similar. The "u" in "quan" is actually “ü", so your lips should be more rounded. You may check out our video-based pinyin chart for demonstration. Hope that helps.
Yoyo Chinese 1 year 9 months ago
Hi Yoyo, how can you distinguish zh and ch? I hear the same zh as ch.
Serena Dinh 1 year 10 months ago
Thank you, Chambm, for the helpful information. You may also check out our Google Hangout lesson 2: http://www.yoyochinese.com/learn-Chinese/google-hangouts/Lesson-2-How-pr.... Hope that helps.
Yoyo Chinese 1 year 10 months ago
The difference is aspiration (releasing a burst of air while making the sound). See this Wikipedia page, it's got good examples and explanations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Chinese_phonology - also note that actual pronunciation can vary from this standard...a lot.
chambm 1 year 10 months ago
Hi, I'm finding it hard to pronounce the "r" sound is there a way to practice it without making a mistake? I've asked other Chinese speaking people on how to pronounce, but can't seem to grasp it. Thank you
instinctz 1 year 10 months ago edited
The "r" pronunciation is the most troublesome one. Some native speakers do pronounce the "r" sound a little differently from others, and even within "standard" Mandarin pronunciation, there is some room for slight differences with how much "friction" there is.  So in SOME cases it might sound more like the French "j" or even almost like the "s" in the English word "measure" to you, and in OTHER cases it might sound more like the American English "r" to you.  
Yoyo Chinese 1 year 10 months ago
The most important thing to keep in mind is that when you pronounce the "r" in Chinese, the tongue tip is curled back a little further and has more friction than when you pronounce the American English "r."  Also, while the English "r" is always accompanied by lip rounding, the Chinese "r" has lip rounding only when preceding "o" and "u."  When it's in front of "a," "e", and "i," the lips are actually spread, not rounded.  
Yoyo Chinese 1 year 10 months ago
Spend some time with our video-based pinyin chart. Go through the entire "r" column and listen to every syllable beginning with "r" multiple times. Then imitate the recordings, and eventually you won't even need to think about whether it's more like the end of "garage" or more like the s in "Asia." It will just be the Chinese "r."
Yoyo Chinese 1 year 10 months ago
我有問題。Does 嘴 and 口 have the same meaning吗 谢谢,
王子 2 years 7 months ago
Yes, they both have the same meaning, mouth. 口 also have other meanings, such as opening.
Yoyo Chinese 2 years 7 months ago
When referring to the pinyin chart offered on the website, the pronunciation of "r" differs only for "run" and "rui". where regular "r' is recorded. Could you please explain why?
Milenita 2 years 9 months ago
The "r" initial can sound a bit different depending on the vowel/final that follows it. The shape of your lips (rounded or not) and the position of your tongue in your mouth are always changing in order to pronounce the final correctly, so that can influence the way the "r" comes out sounding.
Yoyo Chinese 2 years 9 months ago
How can you distinguish the ch sound from the q sound?
Evaftah 2 years 11 months ago
ch sounds like "ch" in chirp, and q sounds like "chee" in cheese. Hope that helps.
Yoyo Chinese 2 years 11 months ago
There are definitely different opinions on how to pronounce the pinyin letter "r". I have been watching a classic Chinese history series "The Great Revival", and the actors there definitely pronounce the initial "r" in a similar way to the English "r", and similarly to the pinyin "r" as at the end of "er2" (meaning "two"). But I'm going with the explanation that Yangyang gives.
Adrian Widdowson 3 years 4 months ago
My daughter's high school Chinese teacher taught the class to pronounce "r" like the English "r" sound. (For example, she pronounces the "r" in "ren" like the English "wr".) Is "r" pronounced differently in certain provinces? I'm not sure which province in China her teacher is from.
NYUSH Mom 3 years 7 months ago
Hi, and thank you for these great lessons:-) I don't understand the difference between the "J" sound and the "Zh" sound, if any. To me, the J in "jeep" and the G in "George" are identical. Any help?
Tom86 4 years 3 weeks ago
They are sound quite different. "J" sounds like 'g' in English, but your tongue should be flat. For "Zh", you need to curl your tongue, like kind of touch the top of your mouth. Try to sound it out.
Yoyo Chinese Development 4 years 3 weeks ago
Hi Yang Yang, I cannot distinguish between the 'zh' and 'r' sounds. They sound the same to me.
thuywritings 4 years 9 months ago
Oh hey. I think I got it now. 'zh' sounds like 'j' in English. 'r' sounds like a buzzing sound with a 'z' in it.
thuywritings 4 years 9 months ago
I think your understanding of "zh" is correct. It sounds like "j" in “john". Or you can think of "zh" as "ge" in "George". As for "r", your understanding is not correct. We don'g really have a sound like ”z" in "buzzing" at all. "z" in Chinese sounds like "ds" in "yards". I hope that helps. :)
Yoyo Chinese Development 4 years 8 months ago
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