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In this pinyin lesson, we learn three Initials, which are z, c, s. We also learn some Chinese characters that use "z, c, s". In addition, you can have listening exercises and quizzes for z, c, s.

Pinyin Initials

Initials are called 声母 in simplified Chinese (pinyin: shēngmǔ). There are 21 initials excluding y and w.

The conventional order is:
b, p, m, f; d, t, ,n, l; g, k, h; j, q, x; zh, ch, sh, r; z, c, s

Pronunciation Guide for z, c, s

The letters z, and c are pronounced more like the letters ds, and ts in suds, and cats, respectively.

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. z: as ds in “beds”.


2. c: as ts in “cats”.

3. s: as s in “sit”.

Example Words

Example 1:

Chinese Character: 字
Pinyin: zì


English translation: Chinese Character
Chinese character
Example 2:

Chinese Character: 刺
Pinyin: cì


English translation: thorn
Example 3:

Chinese Character: 四
Pinyin: sì


English translation: four
number 4


Exercise 1: Tone Drill

Listen to the audio first, and then repeat.

1. zā zá zǎ zà


2. cā cá cǎ cà

3. sā sá sǎ sà

Listening Quiz (8)

Choose the right answer after you listen to the audio.

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

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