Chinese Pinyin, the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China, is the most commonly used phonetic system for writing Chinese with the Latin alphabet.
Learning pinyin early in one’s Chinese studies dramatically accelerates the speed at which most students learn Chinese. Pinyin, for our purposes, is a tool for pronouncing Chinese characters and words and for typing in Chinese.
Read our full article on the topic here: “What is Pinyin?“
Many students wonder if they can simply learn pinyin and avoid Chinese characters (汉字 hànzì) altogether. This is extremely inadvisable! There are many reasons why learning characters alongside pinyin is essential. Most crucially, nearly every pinyin sound has multiple commonly used Chinese characters that it represents.
For example, take the pinyin sound “guo.” This phonetic combination can mean fruit (果 guǒ), country (国 guó), to cross (a road) (过 guò, as in 过马路 guò mǎlù), cooking pot (锅), and a variety of other words. “Guo” is even one of the 100 most common Chinese family names (郭 Guō).