Step by step

The procedure for writing a given Chinese syllable in GR can be broken down into three logical steps:

1. Spell... 2. Modify... 3. Tidy up

Let's examine these steps in turn.

  1. Spell
    The spelling rules for the specifically GR basic forms have already been covered: in other cases the PY spelling will usually be correct.

  2. Modify
    For a given tone, work through the following table until you find the correct category for the syllable you want to write. (You may not need to modify it at all, especially if it is in Tone 1.) The stressed vowel in a syllable is easy to recognize: it is the one that bears the tonal accent mark in PY: eg the as in Biàn, Gāi and Dà.

    Forms in italics are intermediate results requiring a final polish.

    Tone number If Is Then Examples [PY]
    1 First letter L,M,N,R Insert -h- as second letter Lhiou[liu], mha.mha[mama]
    Any other No modification Ta, chian [qian], bing
    2 First letter L,M,N,R No modification Lian, mei
    First/only vowel A,E,O,Y Insert -r after vowel(s) charng, char, erl[er], shyr[shi], tour, peir
    I change to Y yng[ying], chyan[qian], pyng, chyuan[quan],yang, ty[ti]
    U change to W chwan, wen, dw[du], w[wu]
    3 First (or only) unstressed vowel I (unless next to E) Change to E gae, lean[lian], eou[you], beau[biao], euan[yuan]
    U (unless next to O) Change to O goei[gui], doan[duan], gao, oan[wan]
    Otherwise   Double the stressed vowel bii, geei, chiee[qie], suoo, chaang, eel[er], uoo[wo]
    4 Final letter Unstressed I Change to Y day, pey
    Unstressed U Change to W daw, row
    G Change to Q ranq, uanq[wang]
    N or L Double bann, ell[er]
    Any other Add -h dah, buh, lih, shieh[xie], uh[wu], iueh[yue]

Next: ►Tidying up

Intro | Rules | Refinements | 3 steps | Tidy | Examples | Exercise | Key