Chinese Characters With Multiple Pronunciations
How to pronounce “了” in Chinese? “Le” may be your only answer. But did you know that “了” can also be pronounced “liǎo”? This is one of the Chinese characters that you learn as a beginner. In Chinese, there are some characters that have multiple pronunciations. In this infographic, we present 6 of the most common ones. We list their pronunciations, their meanings, and also provide some examples.
Multiple Pronunciation Characters
便 biàn, pián
Meaning: convenience, casual
Examples: 方便 fāngbiàn, convenience
Meaning: inexpensive, cheap
Examples: 便宜 piányí, inexpensive
长 cháng, zhǎng
Examples: 长头发 cháng tóufǎ, long hair
长短 cháng duǎn, length (Lit. long and short)
Meaning: grow up, refer to someone who is older
Examples: 长大 zhǎng dà, grow up
(If you dream to be a teacher when you grow up. You say 我长大以后要当老师。Wǒ zhǎng dà yǐhòu yào dāng lǎoshī.)
长辈 zhǎng bèi, elders
还 hái, huán
Examples: 还在家 hái zàijiā, still at home.
(You plan to go out, but you got postponed for some reason. You are still home. You say 我还在家。 wǒ hái zàijiā.)
还没吃饭 hái méi chīfàn, still have not eaten dinner yet.
Examples: 还钱 huán qián, return the money
(If you borrowed money from someone, and you would like to return the money now. We say 还钱 huán qián)
还书 huán shū, return books
得 de, děi, dé
Meaning: a complement that usually is used with a verb.
Examples: 跑得很快 pǎo de hěn kuài, run fast
Meaning: have to do something
Examples: 我得做完功课。 Wǒ děi zuò wán gōngkè. I have to finish my homework.
Meaning: to gain, to obtain
Examples: 得到 dé dào, to gain
我跑步比赛得到第一名！Wǒ pǎobù bǐsài dédào dì yī míng! I got first place in a race!
乐 lè, yuè
Meaning: happy-related, joy, fun, laugh
Examples: 快乐 kuàilè, happy
乐意 lèyì, willing
Examples: 音乐 yīnyuè, music
乐器 yuèqì, instrument
了 le, liǎo
Meaning: action has been completed, past tense Chinese particle
Examples: 吃了 chī le, ate
(I ate dinner. You say 我吃晚餐了。 wǒ chī wǎngcān le.)
Meaning: a modifier to understand, to obtain
Examples: 做得了 zuò déliǎo, able to do it
做不了 zuò bùliǎo, able to do it
了解 liǎojiě, understand
Chinese Characters With Multiple Pronunciations Infographic
There are a lot more Chinese characters that have more than one pronunciations, you can also find a list here.