Post 2: Pronouncing Basic Chinese Characters & Say My Name: Introducing Yourself in Mandarin

nihao, wo shi

Pronouncing Basic Chinese Characters

Pronouncing Chinese characters starts with understanding Pinyin, which is the Romanized form of Chinese characters. Here’s how to pronounce some common sounds in Mandarin Chinese:

1. Consonants

Some consonants in Mandarin are pronounced similarly to their English counterparts, but there are a few unique sounds:

  • b – similar to ‘b’ in “boy”: (dad)
  • p – similar to ‘p’ in “spot”: píng (apple)
  • m – similar to ‘m’ in “mother”: (mom)
  • f – similar to ‘f’ in “far”: fēn (minute)
  • d – similar to ‘d’ in “dog”: (big)
  • t – similar to ‘t’ in “stop”: tīng (listen)
  • n – similar to ‘n’ in “nice”: (which)
  • l – similar to ‘l’ in “love”: lán (blue)
  • g – similar to ‘g’ in “go”: gǒu (dog)
  • k – similar to ‘k’ in “skate”: (card)
  • h – similar to ‘h’ in “hat”: hóng (red)

2. Vowels

Vowels can be trickier because they often combine in ways not found in English:

  • a – like ‘a’ in “father”: (mom)
  • e – like ‘e’ in “her”: méi (no)
  • i – like ‘ee’ in “see”, but shorter: (rice)
  • o – like ‘o’ in “or”: gōng (work)
  • u – like ‘oo’ in “food”: (road)
  • ü (yu) – like ‘ü’ in German or ‘ue’ in French, with rounded lips: (green)

3. Diphthongs and Triphthongs

These are combinations of vowels and are common in Chinese:

  • ai – like ‘eye’: mái (buy)
  • ei – like ‘ay’ in “say”: bēi (cup)
  • ao – like ‘ow’ in “cow”: hào (good)
  • ou – like ‘o’ in “go” plus ‘u’ in “put”: hóu (monkey)
  • ia – combine ‘ee’ and ‘a’: xiǎo (small)
  • ie – combine ‘ee’ and ‘eh’: jiē (sister)
  • ua – combine ‘u’ and ‘a’: huā (flower)
  • uo – combine ‘u’ and ‘o’: duō (many)
  • üe – combine ‘ü’ and ‘e’: lüè (to leave)

4. Practice Tips

  • Listen and Repeat: Use language learning apps or videos with native speakers to hear the pronunciation.
  • Use Pinyin Charts: These are great tools for visual learners to see how each sound is produced.
  • Read Out Loud: Reading texts out loud will help you get used to combining the sounds together.


Remember, pronunciation can vary slightly based on regional accents, but the standard Mandarin is what you’ll often encounter in educational resources. Keep practicing, and soon you’ll feel more confident in your ability to pronounce Chinese characters!

Say My Name: Introducing Yourself in Mandarin


Welcome back, language learners! Today, we dive into the art of introducing yourself in Mandarin Chinese. Whether you’re meeting new friends, introducing yourself in a business setting, or just wanting to impress someone with your language skills, knowing how to say your name is essential. Let’s get started!

Key Phrase: 我叫… (Wǒ jiào…)

The fundamental phrase for introducing yourself is “我叫…” (Wǒ jiào…), which means “I am called…”. Here’s how to use it:

  • 我叫张伟。(Wǒ jiào Zhāng Wěi.) – My name is Zhang Wei.
  • 我叫李娜。(Wǒ jiào Lǐ Nà.) – My name is Li Na.

Fun Practice Scenarios

  1. Meeting New Friends:
    • 你叫什么名字?(Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì?) – What’s your name?
    • 我叫…(Wǒ jiào…) – I am called…
    • 你叫什么名字?(Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì?)
    • 我叫王鹏。(Wǒ jiào Wáng Péng.)
  2. At a Party:
    • A: 你好,我叫小明。(Nǐ hǎo, wǒ jiào Xiǎomíng.) – Hi, my name is Xiaoming.
    • B: 你好,小明。我叫丽丽。(Nǐ hǎo, Xiǎomíng. Wǒ jiào Lìlì.) – Hi, Xiaoming. My name is Lili.
  3. In a Classroom:
    • 老师:你叫什么名字?(Lǎoshī: Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì?) – Teacher: What’s your name?
    • 学生:我叫大卫。(Xuéshēng: Wǒ jiào Dàwèi.) – Student: My name is David.

Pronunciation Tips

  • Wǒ jiào sounds like “Woh jyao” – remember to keep it smooth and flowing.
  • Practice the tones: 我 (Wǒ – third tone) and 叫 (jiào – fourth tone).

Humorous Anecdotes

  • Imagine introducing yourself at a party and accidentally saying “我叫吃饭” (Wǒ jiào chīfàn), which means “I am called eating.” Hilarity ensues when everyone starts calling you “Mr. Eating.”
  • During a language exchange, one of our students mixed up names and animals, saying “我叫大象” (Wǒ jiào dà xiàng), meaning “I am called Elephant.” Now, that’s a name that’s hard to forget!

Practice Makes Perfect

  • Role-Playing Exercise: Pair up with a friend or classmate. Take turns introducing yourselves with the phrase “我叫…” and create funny scenarios where you mix up names or use unexpected words.
  • Mirror Exercise: Stand in front of a mirror and introduce yourself using “我叫…” several times. Practice different tones and intonations to get comfortable with the phrase.


Now you know how to introduce yourself in Mandarin! Remember, practice makes perfect, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes – they often lead to the funniest and most memorable learning moments. Stay tuned for our next post, where we’ll master the four tones of Mandarin Chinese with some humorous mnemonics. Happy learning!

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