How to Learn Chinese by Reading It, Even If You “Can’t”

Character components usually give clues for what the character means and how to pronounce the character. As with any language, the rules aren’t perfect, but they work the majority of the time. Although these components are not equivalents for English prefixes and suffixes, you may find it helpful to view them that way.


Chinese Pronunciation: Tones of Pinyin

All Chinese words have a tone of some sort. The Chinese language has four pronounced tones, which in pinyin are marked with a little symbol above the vowel to which they relate, and a short, less pronounced tone, called the ‘light tone’, which is given no tonal marker (see table below).Tone plays a very important role in the meaning of the characters. Different tones in pinyin will lead to different character and meaning of each Chinese word.