15. Finals with a medial u

This lesson introduces new finals that begin with the letter u. These include ua, uo (also covered in Lesson 4), uai, ui (uei), uan, and un (uen). (The finals uan and uang were also covered in Lesson 14.) In these finals, the letter u represents a transition sound between the initial and the main vowel or dipthong in the final.

Let’s listen to some examples of syllables formed with these finals:

Character and PinyinEnglish Equivalent
claw
brush
to praise
flower
melon
seat
ostrich
lock
weak
camel
bad
handsome
walking stick
chopsticks
fast food
correct
to chase/pursue
leg
sleep
armor
grey
to blow
diamond
sour/acidic
biography
warm
respect
to swallow
order
profit
grandson
to collide
bed
twins
carnival
broadcast
compact disc

Listen carefully to the syllables like duì that end in ui. You will notice that the finals in these syllables are not pronounced like Louie but more like the English word way. The Pinyin spelling ui represents the dipthong final uei but the developers of Pinyin decided to omit the e when this final is spelled with a consonant initial. When there is no consonant initial, this syllable is spelled as wei.

This lesson also includes another final that is spelled with an omitted letter when it follows a consonant initial. Did you notice the sound of the syllables ending in un? The syllable sun, for example, is not pronounced like the English word sun but more as if it were spelled swun. The spelling un is short for uen, or u followed by en, but the Pinyin spelling rules omit the e when this final is spelled with a consonant initial. When there is no consonant initial, this syllable is spelled as wen.

You may want to listen to these exemplars a few times to learn this pattern.

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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