Zero Initials are not real Chinese Pinyin Initials, realistically they are just some Chinese Pinyin Spelling Rules. Nowadays people type more than they write. If you need to type out characters, you need to use the correct Chinese Pinyin Spelling Rules, or else the character won’t show up. That’s why Chinese Pinyin spelling rules are probably the most important Pinyin rules, even if they do not affect the Pinyin reading. In this lesson we’ll talk about all Zero Initials and their spelling rules. Let’s start now!
We have learned the spelling rule of "j, q, x + ü", in today's lesson, "Zero Initial" is another Pinyin spelling rule that we need to know.
We’ve mentioned in our Pinyin Introduction lesson that a “Zero Initial” is when a Pinyin syllable is made up of a Final and a tone, without an Initial. There’re four situations based on how you write the syllable when there’s no Initial.
For all the Zero syllables in the Pinyin system, all we have to remember is the spelling rules when we write or type them. But the way to pronounce them remains the same.
When there’s no Initial, that means the syllable starts with one of the following vowels, because all Finals in the Pinyin System start with these 6 vowels. So when the syllable starts with a, o, e, we’ll just write the syllable as it is.
When the Zero Initial syllable starts with the vowel “u”, we write "w" as a "Formal" Initial, which is not a real Initial.
For ua, uo, uai, uan, uang ueng, we’ll just replace the u with w, and they become wa, wo, wai, wan, wang, weng.
For u, ui, un, we’ll write them as wu, wei and wen.
When the Zero Initial syllable starts with the vowel “i”, we write "y" as a “Formal Initial”.
For ia, ie, iao, ian, iang, iong, we’ll just replace "i" with "y" and make them ya, ye, yao, yan, yang, yong.
For i, in, ing and iu(iou), we’ll just write or type them as yi, yin, ying and you.
When the Zero Initial syllable starts with the vowel “ü”, we write "y" as a “Formal Initial” as well.
There are only four of them: ü, üe, ün, üan. For all of them we’ll add “y” at the beginning of the syllable and drop the two dots. So we have yu, yue, yuan, yun.