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In this pinyin lesson, we learn two compound finals, which are ia, iao. We also learn some Chinese characters that use "ia, iao". In addition, you can have listening exercises and quizzes for ia, iao.


Finals are all possible combinations of semivowels coming before the vowel, the nucleus vowel, and final vowel.
There are 14 compound finals (复韵母) and 14 nasal finals (鼻韵母).

Compound finals: ai, ei, ui; ao, ou, iu; ie, üe; er; ia, iao; ua, uo, uai
Nasal finals: an, en; in, un, ün; ang, eng, ing, ong; ian, iang, iong; uan, uang

Pronunciation Guide for ia, iao

The following guide is given in terms of English pronunciation. They are approximate, as there are some sounds of Pinyin do not correspond directly to sounds in English.

1. ia: as “i + a”. Like ya in “yahoo”.


2. iao: as “i + ao”. Like eow in”meow”.

Example Words

Example 1:

Chinese Character: 加
Pinyin: jiā


English translation: plus

Example 2:

Chinese Character: 虾
Pinyin: xiā


English translation: shrimp

Example 3:

Chinese Character: 笑
Pinyin: xiào


English translation: laugh

Example 4:

Chinese Character: 跳
Pinyin: tiào


English translation: jump

Exercises and Quiz:

The Exercises and Quiz are available for registered members.

If you are interested in learning Chinese, please take a look at the Free Chinese Lessons that are practical and fun.

7 Responses to “Learn Chinese Pinyin in 21 Days – Day 15: Finals, ia, iao”

  1. John Hite

    Example 1 “i+a” do you really believe that the “i” in pinyin is pronounced like the “y” in english? Y=I in pinyin not english.

  2. John Hite

    Example 2 i+ao is like “eow in meao”. Good example the the audio pronunces it as the english “yo”. Wrong! The correct pronunciation of i+ao is in your next 2 examples.

    • Alexander

      John you seems to be very picky on pronunciation? You will find that no two English speaking countries speak the same. Try learning English in Australia then go to Scotland or Ireland and see how you go! My wife comes from Southern China and her accent is totally different from the north but she is still understood. China is no different from any other country. language pronunciation is a regional thing. If you want to learn the “Queens Chinese” ? good luck. The purpose of learning another language is to be understood.

      • aihua


        Hi Alexander,

        Really appreciate your understanding and explanation!

        I totally agree with you on language learning, which the purpose is to be understood.

        I speak three languages, with Mandarin Chinese is my mother tongue. I know I will have Chinese accent forever when I speak English or Japanese, but I have no communication problem in most cases. A language is just a communication tool.

    • aihua


      Hi John,

      Thank you for your encouragement.

      You heard “yo”. I di not intend to make it, though I was trying make the sound “eow in meao” for Example 2 i+ao.

      Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts again.


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