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The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Cantonese pronunciations in Wikipedia articles.

See Cantonese phonology for a more thorough look at the sounds of Cantonese Chinese. Please note that English equivalents given in this page may only represent very approximate sounds to the original pronunciations.

IPA Yale Jyutping Chinese English approximation
Non-syllabic consonants
f f fan
h h house
j y j you
k syllable-initial g scan
syllable-final k doctor
syllable-initial k can
gw[1] squeak
kʷʰ kw[2] quick
l l leaf
m m moon
n n noon
ŋ ng singing
p b span
syllable-final p apt
syllable-initial p pan
s s 西 saw
t d stand
syllable-final t Atkins
syllable-initial t tan
ts j z cats
tsʰ ch c cats hissing
w w water
Syllabic consonants
m mmm
ng[3] (syllabic ng)

All non-syllabic consonants except [p̚, t̚, k̚] may begin a
syllable, though some speakers do not have initial [n, ŋ].[4]
The six non-syllabic consonants [p̚, t̚, k̚, m, n, ŋ] may end
a syllable.[5]

IPA Yale Jyutping Chinese English approximation
syllable-final a
aa father (Australian English)
aːi aai time
aːu aau how
ɐ non-syllable-final a a cut
ɐi ai kite (short)
ɐu au house (short)
ei ei hey
ɛː e yes
ɛːu eu [6] roughly like yeah well
e i before k or ng sick
i see
iːu iu roughly like few
ou ou hoe (American English)
ɔː o law
ɔːy oi roughly like boy; häuser in German
œː eu before k or ng
or syllable-finally
oe roughly like fur in British English; fleuve in French
ɵ eu before n or t eo roughly like again but rounded
ɵy eui eoi No English equivalent; like Japanese koi but rounded even at the end
o u before k or ng look
u food
uːy ui roughly like phooey; almost like nouille in French
yu[7] No English equivalent; menu in French
IPA Yale Jyutping Chinese Description
síː si1[8] high level: siː˥˥
sîː high falling: siː˥˧
sǐː si2 mid rising: siː˧˥
sīː si si3 mid level: siː˧˧
sìh si4 low falling: siː˨˩
or very low: siː˩˩
si̬ː síh si5 low rising: siː˨˧
sìː sih si6 low level: siː˨˨
píːt̚ bīt bit1 high checked: piːt̚˥
sīːt̚ sit sit3 mid checked: siːt̚˧
sìːt̚ siht sit6 low checked: siːt̚˨


  1. ^ [kʷ] is often merged with [k] before [ɔː] in Hong Kong Cantonese.
  2. ^ [kʷʰ] is often merged with [] before [ɔː] in Hong Kong Cantonese.
  3. ^ Some speakers replace [ŋ̩] by [m̩].
  4. ^ Non-syllabic initial [ŋ] is not pronounced in Hong Kong Cantonese by younger speakers, leaving a glottal stop [ʔ] before a, e, o, and initial [n] may be replaced by [l].
  5. ^ Non-syllabic final [ŋ] may be replaced by [n] in Hong Kong Cantonese, except after [e, o]. [i, u] in diphthongs are equivalent to a final /j, w/. After rounded vowels, an i becomes [y].
  6. ^ [ɛːu] is pronounced only in colloquial speech.
  7. ^ Not to be confused with yung and yuk in Yale romanization which are pronounced [joŋ] and [jok̚] respectively.
  8. ^ The high level and high falling tones have merged to high level in Hong Kong Cantonese for most words.


  • Zee, Eric (1999), "Chinese (Hong Kong Cantonese)", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-65236-7