English Pronunciation Guide for Chinese Speakers

A quick summary of what we will look at:

  1. Remember to use past tenses
  2. Practice 'kt', 'pt', 'st', 'cht' sounds
  3. Don't forget the extra sound on words with -ded and -ted
  4. Don't forget the 's' on the end of the word for plural nouns
  5. Practice ‘ts', 'sts', 'ks', 'sks', 'kts' sounds
  6. Don't forget to use an extra sound on words which end with -ces, -ses, -ges, -ches, -zes
  7. Practice words with 'x' in them, and difficult 'ks' sounds in the middle of the word
  8. Practice 'eeeii' and 'aaaii' sounds 

1. Remember to use past tenses

One of the biggest problems that Chinese speakers have with pronunciation and grammar is that they often forget to use past tenses.  This is because past tenses are not necessary in Chinese, but it can make a big difference to the meaning if they are missed in English:

2. Practice 'kt', 'pt', 'st' sounds, and use a strong 't' sound on the end of a word

Many past tense sounds are difficult because they have 2 difficult sounds together.  These sounds need a strong 't' on the end to show that they are past tense.

-ped = pt sound:

helped - /helpt/   “He helped me with my work”

jumped- /jumpt/  “I jumped in the air”

-ched = cht sound:

watched - /watcht/  “I watched a movie last night”

searched - /sercht/  “I searched for a good video”

-ssed = st sound

passed - /past/   “I passed the test”

-ked = kt sound

liked  -  /laykt/  “I liked the video”

worked - /workt/  “I worked hard”

looked - /lukt/  “I looked for a good movie to watch”

-sked = skt sound

risked - /riskt/   “I risked my money”

asked - /askt/    “I asked him to help me”

3. Don't forget to use an extra sound on words which end with -ted and -ded

These are some other very important past tense words.  Many learners of English miss the extra 'tid' or 'did' sounds on the ends of these past verbs:

-ted = tid sound:

wanted = /wan tid/   "I wanted to go outside”

posted  =  /pos tid/    “I posted a video”

wasted  =  /way stid/   "I wasted a lot of time"

rated     = /ra tid/      “I rated the video”

created =  /crea tid/  “I created a video”


-ded = did sound

decided  -  /de sai did/         “I decided to leave”

downloaded - /down loa did/ “I downloaded files”

exploded  -  /ek splou did/ "The balloon exploded"


4. Don't forget the 's' on the end of the word for plurals

When there is more than 1 of something, we often need to add an 's' on the end of the word, e.g. 2 cats. Many English learners know this, but it is still very easy to forget even with advanced learners:

5. Practice 'ts', 'sts', 'ks', 'sks', 'kts' Sounds

Adding 's' on the end of the word can make some very difficult sounds!:

ts sounds:

lots  - /lots/  "I watch lots of movies”

hits  - /hits/  “My video received many hits”

sts sounds:

posts      - /posts/“He makes blog posts”

interests - /interests/“I have many interests”

sks sounds:

tasks - /tasks/“I have any tasks to do today”

asks- /asks/“She always asks me for help”


ks sound:

likes - /laiks/“She likes the new design”

books - /books/ “I read many books”

looks  - /looks/“The video looks very good”

kts sounds:

attracts - /atrakts/   “This city attracts many visitors”

expects - /expekts/  “He expects many great things”

projects - /projekts/   “I have many work projects”




6. Don't forget to use an extra sound on words which end with -ces, -ses, -ges, -ches, -zes

With words that end with these letters we need to add an extra sound, 'siz', 'jiz', 'chiz', 'ziz'. E.g. promises = /pro mi siz/. Words with these endings are not only plural words, but they are also used for present simple verbs in the 3rd person singular:

he promises

she promises

John promises


/prai  siz/   /praiss/

/pro  du  siz/        /produss/

/no  ti  siz/           /no tsss/

/o  fi  siz/           /ofsss/

/in  tro  du  siz/   /in  tro  duss/


/ad  vai  ziz/         /ad vai zz/

/or  ga  nai  ziz/   /or  ga  nai  zz/

/ek  ser  sai  ziz/ek   ser  sai  zz/


/biz  ni  siz/         /biz  niss/

/pro  se  siz/        /pro  sess/

/suk  se  siz/        /suk  sess/


/ma  na  jiz/       /ma  na  jz/

/stay  jiz/           /stay jz/

/chayn  jiz/        /chayn  jz/


/wa  chiz/           /wa chs/

/a  pro  chiz/      /a  pro  chs/

/tee  chiz/          /tee chs/


/sai  zis/            /saizs/




































finishing touches

7. Practice Words with 'x' in them, and Difficult Words with a 'ks' Sound in the Middle

There are many words in English which have an 'x' in the middle.  This is a really difficult sound to make because it is like a 'ks' sound:

expert = /ek spert/

It makes some difficult sound combinations:

expect   = /ek spekt/

experience = /ek spee ree yens/

explain = /ek spleeiin/

expensive = /ek spen siv/


extra = /ek stra/

accept = /ek sept/

access  = /ak ses/

success  = /sak ses/

Check out these horrible sound combinations.  Unfortunately it is difficult to avoid these!

I passed the test - /I past the test/

I fixed 3 problems - /I fikst three problems/

I watched 4 videos - /I wacht four videos/

I have tasks to complete - /I have tasks to complete/

The man looked strong - /The man lookt strong/

He develops training programs - /He develops training programs/


8. Practice eeeiii Sounds and aaaiii Sounds

'eeii' sounds: The following words all have a sound the same as in the word 'say':

change    = /cheeiinj/  “I changed my plans”

name     = /neeiim/“My name is John”

train     = /treeiin/“I went to London on the train”

remain    = /remeeiin/    “She will remain as manager”

campaign= /campeeiin/  “The social media campaign went well”

aaaiii sounds:  The following words have a long 'aaiii' sound the same as in the words 'my' and 'fly'

find = /faaiind/     “I am trying to find my keys”