Since the beginning of the 20th century, people who work with the Chinese language have designed several systems of phonetic symbols to deal with the fact that Chinese characters do not fully represent their pronounciation. The more important systems are the "Zhuyin Phonetic Alphabet", the "Guoyu Romanization System" and the "New Latinized Writing" etc. The "Chinese Phonetic System", abbreviated "pin yin", was first published in 1958. This system has already been adopted by the United Nations and many other international organizations for spelling the Chinese language, and writing personal and place names. It has replaced many of other systems and is widely used both inside and outside of China.
In Chinese, a syllable is composed of an initial(声母), a final(韵母) and a tone(声调).
Here m is the initial and a is the final, and above the final is the tone-mark. A syllable may consist of a final and a tone only.
The following picture lists initials, finals and tones.