Chinese Characters with Different Pronunciation

By Sujanti Djuanda – LingoLearn Chinese Teacher

Chinese has characters with different or multiple pronunciations, called多音字(duō​yīn​zì=a character with more than one pronunciation).

Example 1:

行(háng​) means “row”

行(xíng)  means “OK”

A: First row, fill your surname, second row. After finished filling out the form, you may go out to play.

A: 第一(dì​yī=first) 行(háng=row)填(tián​=to fill out)你的(nǐde=your)姓(xìng​=surname)。填(tián=to fill out)好(hǎo= to finish)后(hòu=after),你(nǐ​=you)可以(kě​yǐ=may)出去(chū​qù=to go out)玩(wán​=to play)。

B: OK.

B: 行(xíng=OK) 。

Example 2:

长(cháng) means “long”

长(zhǎng) means “to grow”

(Business) always grow, always grow, always grow, (bean sprouts) grow long, grow long, grow long.

长(cháng=always)长(zhǎng=to grow) 长(cháng=always)长(zhǎng=to grow)长长(chángcháng=always)长(zhǎng=to grow),

长(zhǎng=to grow)长(cháng= long) 长(zhǎng=to grow)长(cháng=long)长长(zhǎngzhang=to grow)长(cháng=long)。


This is the story of the boss of bean sprouts. He wants his business always grow and his bean sprouts will grow long more and more.

Example 3:

了(le) means “already” or “something you have done”

了(liǎo) to understand

I have understood this matter.

我(wǒ=I)了解(liǎo​jiě=to understand)了(le)这(zhè=this)件(jiàn=a measure word for matters) 事(shì=matter)。

Example 4:

给(jǐ) to provide

给(gěi) by – passive particle (interchangeable with被(bèi=by))

Recently the Toshiba movie that was provided by us was a 55-inch standard product.

最新(zuì​xīn​=recently)电影(diàn​yǐng​=movie)东芝(Dōng​zhī=Toshiba)给(gěi=by – passive particle)我们(wǒmen=we)供给(gōngjǐ=to supply)的(de)是(shì=is)一(yī=a)款(kuǎn= measure word for versions or models (of a product))55寸(cùn​=inch)规格(guī​gé=standard)的(de)产(chǎn​=product)。

Example 5:


还(huán) to pay back

I just remember, haven’t returned my friend’s motorbike yet.

我(wǒ=I)才(cái=just)记得(jì​de=to remember),还(hái=still)没(méi​=not)还(huán=to return) 朋友(péng​you=friend)的(de)摩托车(mó​tuō​chē​=motorbike)。

Example 6:

只(zhǐ​) only

只(zhī) a measure word for bird and certain animals

I only have a cat and two birds.

我(wǒ=I)只(zhǐ=only)有(yǒu=to have)一(yī​=a)只(zhī=a measure word for cats)猫(māo=cat)和(hé=and)两(liǎng=two)只(zhī=a measure word for birds)鸟(niǎo=bird)。

Example 7:

会(huì) can

会(kuài) accounting

I can do accounting job.

我(wǒ=I)会(huì=can)做(zuò=to do)会计(kuàijì= accounting)工作(gōng​zuò​=job)。

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