Chinese Pinyin

Difference between B, P and D, T Sound: Chinese Pinyin Pronunciation Practice

How to Pronounce B, P and D, T Sound Correctly in Chinese Pinyin?

What is the difference between B, P and D, T sound in Chinese Pinyin Pronunciation? B, P, D, T are Chinese consonants. Are you already familiar with the Hanyu Pinyin vowels and the consonants?

Also, you may like to refer to the previous article on the introduction of Chinese 4 Tones to listen to 25 audio and get a few practices. We look more deeply into the Pinyin sound of B, P, D and T and how to pronounce them more accurately.

Can You Hear the Difference between B, P and D, T Sound?

Listen to the four examples below. Can you hear the different sound between B and P or D and T?


The first 4 Chinese consonants are b, p, m, f but we are going to group the b, p and d, t together for discussing how to get a distinctive pronunciation between them, especially the group of B, P and D, T.

Many Chinese learners that I know off cannot hear the difference between B and P or D and T when they begin to learn Chinese.

What is the Difference between B, P and D, T Sound?

The Chinese Pinyin sound pronunciation is similar to that of English alphabet B, P, D and T. How would you say the following in English?

  • B – Bee
  • P – Pee
  • D – Dee
  • T – Tee

There is not much difference in relating the Chinese consonants to that of English if you are an English speaker. In fact, it is not that complicated. Despite the similarity, confusion arises when they look at the Chinese Pinyin.

Suddenly, they forget that the Chinese consonants have the same connotation as English which is what they are familiar with in the first place.

Please note that Chinese Pinyin ‘Bi’ and ‘Di’ above are not pronounced the same way as ‘Bee’ and ‘Dee’. You exert more force to say out ‘Bi’ and ‘Di’. On the other hand, ‘Pi’ and ‘Ti’ have similar pronunciation like the English ‘Pee’ and Tee’.

So, What is the Similarity?

The secret trick lies with the amount of air released from your mouth when you pronounce these four consonants.

Step 1
1. Place your hand in front of your mouth but not covering it.
2. Pronounce Bee and Dee.

Result: You will feel a little bit of air on your palm and sometimes almost no air depending on the consonant and vowel combination. One such example given below is ‘Beng’.

Step 2
Repeat Step 1 but with Pee and Tee this time.

Result: You feel more air emitting out as compared to Bee and Dee.

With the same theory in mind for the Chinese Pinyin, you have to control the airflow and not discharge too much air on your palm when you pronounce Bi and Di. Vice versa for Pi and Ti.

More Intonation Examples of B, P and D, T

Now, you have a better understanding of the concept of the air discharge appropriately. Have a go and try out more examples below. The exercise is relevant for achieving the correct sound of these four consonants when you learn more words later.


The ‘Diao’ group of words are omitted out intentionally because there is no Chinese word for the second tone, ‘diáo’.

An interesting group of Pinyin where the 4 groups of words have very close sounds to the extent of being similar. However, do note that the Chinese Pinyin ‘Do’ and ‘To’ do not exist in the Chinese Pinyin dictionary.

One tone each from ‘Deng‘ and ‘Teng‘ does not exist. Therefore, I have removed them. The suffix ends with ‘eng’. Pay attention to the tail sound ending with ‘ng’ as compared to Pinyin ending with ‘en’ below. One tone from ‘ben‘ and ‘pen‘ is also not available.


Next Pinyin Pronunciation Practice

The next Pinyin practice is on the Chinese consonants G, K, H sound and then J, Q, X sound. The G and K sound is very similar to each other, just like the B, P and D, T sound.


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