Don’t make the mistake I did as a beginner to Chinese. I spent most of my first year assuming each character had a single pronunciation, and this came back to bite as I approached intermediate level, as I was forced to relearn the same characters in a sense, and my old bad habits took a long time to correct.

What’s worse is that people do not often correct you, and either guess what you really want to say, or politely listen whilst pretending to understand.

Even if you are a complete beginner, as soon as you begin learning your first characters, I strongly advise you learn the multiple pronunciations and general meanings of polyphonic characters. Believe me, this early effort will pay back dividends in the near future!

I’m going to focus on the most common one hundred polyphonic characters you will need in Chinese, one by one. I will explain how to pronounce them, give an overview on how to distinguish between them, and then finish with a few exercises. This way, you can check for yourself how well you have understood the lesson.

Since this section is aimed at beginners, I will keep the explanations short and concise, allowing you to learn this as fast as possible.

Good luck!

  1. 重 Zhong/chong