13. Finals with a medial i

This lesson introduces new finals that begin with the letter i. These include ia, iao, ie, and iu. (The finals ian, iang, in, ing, and iong, will be covered in Lesson 14.) In these finals, the letter i represents a transition sound between the initial and the main vowel or dipthong in the final.

Look at the following chart below and notice which initials can be paired with these finals (and which cannot).

 iaiaoieiu(iou)
b-biaobie-
p-piaopie-
m-miaomiemiu
f----
d-diaodiediu
t-tiaotie-
n-niaonieniu
llialiaolieliu
z----
c----
s----
zh----
ch----
sh----
r----
jjiajiaojiejiu
qqiaqiaoqieqiu
xxiaxiaoxiexiu
g----
k----
h----

Remember also that possible combinations do not always produce viable syllables in all four tones.

Now listen to some examples of syllables formed with these finals:

Character and PinyinEnglish Equivalent
the two of us
home; family
to pinch
summer
watch; chart
ticket
a second (of time)
to fall
to jump
bird
to chat
foot
bridge
to laugh; to smile
soft-shelled turtle
to throw; to curl
to extinguish
father
iron
to squeeze; to mold
inferior; bad
street
to cut
thank you
false
to lose
cow
six
nine
ball
sleeve

Did you notice that the ending sound of the syllables with the final iu sound more like an o than a u? That is because the iu is actually a shortened spelling for the final iou, that is the dipthong ou preceded by an i. When this final is preceded by an initial, the spelling is shortened from iou to iu.  (Lesson 17 will explain that, when there is no initial, the “i” becomes a “y” and the “ou” remains, resulting in the spelling you.) When you imitate these syllables, be careful not to be misled by the iu spelling. Try to copy the sound that you hear.

Listening Quiz

Listen to the audio and choose the Pinyin equivalent for the syllable you hear.

Dictation Exercise

Check yourself: Listen to the following syllables. Write down the Pinyin, including the tone. Then click below to check your answers.

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