How to Pronounce the “W” in WanShang and Wan Le
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A student of mine asked me the following question:

In Lesson 11, conversation 2, you make the comment that Wan = finish is the same Wan as in WanShang evening/night. But I notice finish Wan is shown as rising tone 2 and evening Wan is shown as dipping tone 3 and the Chinese characters in the help sheets for each Wan are different. Are they actually the same or perhaps interchangeable?

I notice in pronouncing some words beginning with W, I think I am hearing you make a vee sound at the start, sort of vwuh, it is not a sound I hear in English. I can make this sound if my top teeth start on my bottom lip then move away rather than a pure wuh sound if I start with rounded lips and teeth apart. Am I imagining this or is there a slightly different sound in Mandarin to what I am used to in English?

The 2 wan’s are not interchangeable — they do however sound very similar so it may take some practice to tell them apart — especially if spoken fast by a native.

Here is an audio to help:


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