Overview of Cantonese Sounds

In this lesson

  • Listening to all the Cantonese sounds (tones, initials and finals)

From the last lesson, we know that Cantonese syllables have three components: initials, finals and tones. Each of the components has its own set of sounds. In this lesson, you are going to listen to each set of the sounds so that you can get a general picture of the Cantonese sound system and have some expectation of what you will learn. You don’t have to rush to learn the individual sounds. Just listen and have a taste of Cantonese!

Take a look at the three tables below and listen to the recordings. Note that each sound or word is read twice before the next one is read. You can also click a sound or word in the tables to play its recording individually.


There are 6 tones in total.

Tone 1High level si1
Tone 2High rising si2
Tone 3Mid level si3
Tone 4Low falling si4
Tone 5Low rising si5
Tone 6Low level si6


There are 19 initials in total.


Note: The initial n is not included here. We will discuss this later in the course.


There are 56 finals in total.


Don’t worry if you find some of the sounds hard to produce or recognize. We are going to look at each of the sounds and master them together in the course. See you in the next lesson!

Audio Tracks

Each sound or word is read twice before the next one is read.