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The Free Online Burmese Lessons

Learn Myanmar Language in conversational and literary form. Learn to speak and read Burmese. The Free Online Colloquial Burmese (Myanmar language) lessons include Burmese script, MP3 audio, PDF files and easy Burmese grammar study materials with color-coded parts of speech: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, particles, postpositional markers, and interjections.

Naing Tinnyuntpu Naing Tinnyuntpu is no stranger to systematic and efficient approach. He came from manufacturing environment with Bachelor's and Master's degree in Industrial Engineering (USA). His contributions to semiconductor industry include Administrative Quality Best Practices during his working years as a process engineer with Hewlett-Packard in Singapore. Born and raised in Yangon, he has lived in 6 countries and exposed to different cultures and knowledgeable in unrelated areas. This includes self-taught programming languages. Currently, he is contributing to Tourism in Myanmar by making his online Burmese lessons freely available and accessible to all.

Myanmar script, number, flag, and map

Myanmar Language & Grammar Overview

Scholars have long noted the similarities between the Burmese Language and Tibetan language. For example, Tibetan consonants such as ka, kha, ga, nga, cha, ja, nya, ta, tha, da, na, pa, pha, ba, ma, wa, zha, za, ya, ra, la, sha, sa, ha, etc. sound remarkably similar to the Burmese consonants. The origin of the Burmese script, Pyu, and Mon Script of ancient Myanmar and Tibet alphabet can be traced back to Brahmi script of ancient India, which was first seen in 500 BCE and spread throughout India by 300 CE in the reign of King Ashoka. The Tibetan-Burmese language classification is a branch of the Sino-Tibetan family of languages spoken from Tibet to the Malay Peninsula, and also referred to as Tibeto-Burman Languages.

Burmese spoken language is different from the literary form. Myanmar literary language has more expressive power compared to bland spoken words, but the sequence in the sentence structure basically remains the same.

Burmese verbs ကြိယာ | kri1-ya2 MP3 Audio File do not change tense like in English. Instead, verb-suffix words are appended to show the past tense, present tense, and future tense.

Burmese Verbs are categorized by three types of sentence constructions and also by the following three characteristics:

  • ပြုခြင်း | pyu1 chin3 - action (does/do)
  • ဖြစ်ခြင်း | pfyit chin3 - occurrence (be/is/are/am)
  • ရှိခြင်း | shi1 chin3 - presence (is at/has/have)
MP3 Audio File

Similarly, the same verb words are used for both plural and singular forms to say: "He does something" and "They do something."

It is possible to construct Burmese sentences without a verb. Example:

ကျွန်တော် | kja1-nau2 - I (pronoun, male term)
ဆရာဝန် | hsa1-ya2-woon2 - doctor (noun)
ပါ | ba2 - ending polite word. (particle)

ကျွန်တော်ဆရာဝန်ပါ။ | kja1-nau2 hsa1-ya2-woon2 ba2 -- I am a doctor.

MP3 Audio File

Note: The last word ba2 in the above sentence is not a verb. It is classified as a particle in Myanmar grammar.

Myanmar grammar has a number of suffixes and ending words called ဝိဘတ် | wi1-but (postpositional markers) MP3 Audio File and ပစ္စည်း | pyit-si3 (particles). MP3 Audio File Those suffix and ending words are placed after a noun or a pronoun to show subject or object, and after a verb to show tense or mood. Sometimes, they can modify the adjective into verb.

The basic word order of the Burmese Language does NOT NECESSARILY fall into subject-object-verb format. Just like in English, you can either say: "The boy kicks the ball," (where "the boy" is the subject, "kick" the verb and "ball" the object) or "The ball was kicked by the boy." It deploys various ending words which have no English equivalent. Together with particles, those postpositional markers, also used as ending words, play an important part of the Myanmar language structure.

Example 1:

သွား | thwa3 - to go (verb)
တော့ | dau1 - about to (particle for emphasis)
မယ် | meare2 - will (postpositional marker to show tense)
နော် | nau2 - ending word. (particle for feeling tone)

သွားတော့မယ်နော်။ | thwa3 dau1 meare2 nau2 -- I am about to go! MP3 Audio File

Example 2:

သိ | thi1 - to know (verb)
ပြီ | byi2 - has reached certain condition (postpositional marker)
လား | la3 - question ending word (particle)

သိ ပြီ လား | thi1 byi2 la3 -- Do you know now? MP3 Audio File

Example 3:

သူ | thu2 - he (pronoun)
မှန် | hmun2 - right; correct (adjective)
တယ် | deare2 - affirmative ending word (postpositional marker, not a verb in Burmese grammar.)

သူ မှန် တယ် | thu2 hmun2 deare2 -- He is right! MP3 Audio File

In the last example, the ending word IS NOT a verb, but it modifies the adjective into the word မှန် တယ် | hmun2 deare2, which is considered as a verb of pfyit-chin3-pya1 kri1-ya2 (verb clause that shows occurrence) type. Although တယ် | deare2 seems to correspond with the verb "is", it cannot be used consistently as "is" in some other sentence constructions.

Example:

ဟုတ်တယ်။ | hote deare2 -- Yes!

It must be stressed that Burmese equivalent of "be/is/are/am" like တယ် | deare2 MP3 Audio File are not verbs but post-positional markers, and they form verb clauses only in combination with verbs such as "go", "eat", "come", or adjectives such as "white", "wrong", "hungry".

Similarly, ending particle words such as ပါ | ba2 MP3 Audio File when combined with nouns like "doctor", "man", "Buddhist", become equivalent to English "be/is/are/am" something or someone. In some other sentence constructions, they cannot be translated as English "be/is/are/am", and this can be confusing to non-native learners of Myanmar grammar.

As for pronouns နာမ်စား | nun2-za3, MP3 Audio File there are many ways to say you and I in Burmese. Wrong choice of the pronoun "you" and "I" will offend people. Family terms like "brother", "sister", "son", and "daughter" are commonly used among strangers to address to each others. There are four types of Burmese Pronouns:

  1. Personal Pronouns -- "I", "You", "He", "She", "It", etc..

  2. Referential pronouns -- "this","that", "above-mentioned", etc..

  3. Question Words -- "what", "who", "where" in reference to the noun.

  4. Quantitative Pronouns -- "one person", "three cups", "four items", "some", "few", "all", "half", etc..

Burmese Adjectives နာမဝိသေသန | na2-ma1 wi1-thay2-tha1-na1 MP3 Audio File are classified into four groups:

  1. Qualitative -- words that describe the quality of the noun. E.g., "rich" man, "far away" place.

  2. Referential -- words that make reference to or point to something. E.g., "this" road, "that" road, "other" methods.

  3. Numbers -- words that describe "how many" of something, "what position" in the ordered list, and unspecified numbers. E.g., "ten" people, "21st." birthday, "some" people.

  4. Question Words -- words that ask for "how many", "how", "which", "how much", and "what" with clearly stated noun in the question. Without the noun, the same question words are classified as pronouns. E.g., "What kind of food do you like?" as opposed to "What kind do you like?"

Burmese Adverbs ကြိယာဝိသေသန | kri1-ya2 wi1-thay2-tha1-na1 MP3 Audio File are classified into five groups:

  1. "How" part of human actions -- gestures, manner, facial expressions, and behavior. E.g., "arrogantly", "sluggishly", "truthfully", "respectfully".

  2. Conditions of things and situations -- E.g., "in disarray", "in disorder", "definitely".

  3. "When" part of action words -- E.g., "early", "often", "immediately".

  4. Interrogative adverbs -- "when", "how".

  5. Words that show extent, size or magnitude -- "few", "many", "very".

There are eight ways to categorize Burmese Nouns နာမ် | "nun2" : MP3 Audio File four by construction, and four by meaning:

  1. Combination; Compound |

    ပေါင်းစပ်နာမ် | poun3-sut nun2 MP3 Audio File

    E.g., စာအုပ်ဆိုင် | sa2-oat hsine2 (book + shop) -- bookshop. MP3 Audio File

    It is possible to combine words other than nouns. E.g., စားသောက်ဆိုင် | sa3 + thout + hsine2 = eat+drink+shop = restaurant. MP3 Audio File

  2. Original; Innate |

    ပင်ကိုနာမ် | pin2-ko2 nun2 MP3 Audio File

    E.g., ခွေး | khway3 -- dog. MP3 Audio File

  3. Qualitative |

    ဂုဏ်ရည်ပြနာမ် | gome2-yay2-pya1 nun2 MP3 Audio File

    E.g., ထူးချွန်မှု | htu3-choon2 hmu1 -- the quality of being outstanding. MP3 Audio File This word is formed by the verb htu3-choon2 meaning "be outstanding" modified into a noun by the suffix particle hmu1.

  4. Verb Modifications |

    ကြိယာနာမ် | kri1-ya2 nun2 MP3 Audio File

    E.g., ကူညီမှု | ku2-nyi2-hmu1 -- help. MP3 Audio File The particle hmu1 modifies the verb ku2-nyi2 (to help) into a noun "help". This is unlike English where "help" can be either a verb or a noun.

  5. Individual Names |

    တစ်ဦးဆိုင်နာမ် | ta1-u3-hsine2 nun2 MP3 Audio File

    E.g., Yangon, Shwedagon, Aung San.

  6. Common Terms |

    အများဆိုင်နာမ် | a-mya3-hsine2 nun2 MP3 Audio File

    E.g., dog, city, cow, book

  7. Psychological; Abstract |

    စိတ္တဇနာမ် | sate-ta1-za1 nun2 MP3 Audio File

    E.g., courage, love, faith

  8. Conglomeration |

    အစုပြနာမ် | a-su1-pya1 nun2 MP3 Audio File

    E.g., အစည်းအရုံး | a-si3-a-yone3 -- union, league.

    MP3 Audio File

Unlike in English where most people will have to look up the dictionary for the plural of "octopus", Burmese plural words ဗဟုဝုစ် | ba1-hu1-woot MP3 Audio File in most cases simply add a suffix word တွေ | dway2 MP3 Audio File to the noun in the colloquial language and များ | mya3 MP3 Audio File in the literary form. Those suffix words are classified as particles.

Burmese language has several conjunctions known as သမ္ဗန္ဓ | thun2-bun2-da1 MP3 Audio File Those conjunctions in colloquial forms are slightly different from their literary counterparts. Conjunctions in Myanmar Language are more often used in literary forms with long sentences. Examples:

  1. လျှင် | hlyin2 -- if (literary) MP3 Audio File

  2. ဆိုရင် | hso2-yin2 -- if (colloquial) MP3 Audio File

  3. သို့မဟုတ် | dtho1-ma1-hote -- or else (literary) MP3 Audio File

  4. ထို့ကြောင့် | hto1-joun1 -- therefore (literary) MP3 Audio File

  5. သို့ရာတွင် | dtho1-ya2-dwin2 -- however (literary) MP3 Audio File

  6. ထို့ပြင် | hto1-pyin2 -- moreover (literary) MP3 Audio File

  7. ရန် | yan2 -- in order to; so as to (literary) MP3 Audio File

  8. ဖို့ | pfo1 -- for (colloquial) MP3 Audio File

  9. သကဲ့သို့ | dtha1-keare1-tho1 -- as if (literary) MP3 Audio File

  10. လည်း | leare3 -- also (both) MP3 Audio File

  11. လည်းကောင်း | la1-goun3 -- as well (literary) MP3 Audio File

  12. နဲ့ | neare1 -- with (colloquial) MP3 Audio File

  13. နှင့် | hnin1 -- with (literary) MP3 Audio File

  14. သာမက | dtha2-ma1-ka1 -- not only... but also (literary) MP3 Audio File

  15. | yway1 -- and; while; because (literary) MP3 Audio File

  16. အဘယ်ကြောင့်ဆိုသော် | a-beare2-joun1-hso2-dthau2 -- the reason is that (literary) MP3 Audio File

  17. သောကြောင့် | dthau3-joun1 -- due to the fact that (literary) MP3 Audio File

  18. လို့ | lo1 -- because (colloquial) MP3 Audio File

  19. စေကာမူ | say2-ga2-mu2 -- nevertheless (literary) MP3 Audio File

Consider the three stress levels in Burmese:

| Ma1 = sounds like "Ma" in "Malaysia" MP3 Audio File
မာ | Ma2 = "ma" as in "diploma" MP3 Audio File
မား | Ma3 = higher pitch of "Ma" as in "Mother" MP3 Audio File

For those who are familiar with Mandarin Chinese, close counterparts in Pinyin tones are:

Ma1 = Pinyin 4th tone.

Ma2 = sounds like Pinyin 3rd tone as in "ma3 lu", which means "the main road" in Mandarin Chinese.

Ma3 = Higher pitch level and close to Pinyin 1st or 2nd tone as in "Ma2 fan", which means "to bother" in Mandarin Chinese.

If you pay close attention to news-readers on the radio, you will note that some ending words in burmese sentences are spoken not exactly in a flat monotone, but stressed from a lower to a higher level somewhat like the Pinyin 2nd tone. For example: the ending word spoken by female radio news announcers almost always shift from ရှင် | shin2 to a higher pitch ရှင်း | shin3 within a fraction of a second.

Further clarifications to "a1"

(31 Dec 2013)

When the Burmese character | "Ma1" is used as a stand-alone character, it sounds like "Mah1" ("Mark" with silent "rk".) It is clear enough when this vowel is used at the end of the word (or sentence) , or shown as a stand-alone character.

However, when "Ma1" appears in the beginning, or in the middle of words, it will in most cases ( but not all) sound like a short "Ma1" as in မလေးရှား | "Malaysia", not "Mah-laysia".

In written Burmese language, there is no way to differentiate full "Mah1" sound and short "Ma1". Even Burmese people will have to look at the context to determine whether the word မနီလာ | Ma1 Ni2 La2 should be pronounced Manila (city in the Philippines), or a girl's name Mah1 Ni2 La2 (Ms. Nilar).

MP3 Audio File

To give an another example, the word "favoritism" is spelled with the 33rd Burmese Character | (Ah1), followed by the third character | (Ga1) and the word တိ | "Ti1". A Burmese child who has not learned this word wouldn't know whether to pronounce this as Ah1 Gah1 Ti1 or Aga1 Ti1, or Agati1,or the correct pronunciation, which could be better expressed in romanization as အဂတိ | Ah1 ga1-ti1 with full Ah1 and short ga1. It could also be expressed as Ah1 gati1, but there is still a possibility of mispronouncing the middle syllable as "gut" instead of the correct short "ga1".

MP3 Audio File

I now see this as an opportunity to further enhance the romanization by adding "h" to the vowel "a1" when appropriate. This way, I can better express the word ကပါ | "Kah1 ba2" (please dance) and differentiate it from ကမ္ဘာ | "Ka1 ba2" (the World). Also note that ending words such as suggestion "ba2" would sound smoother if you can slightly extend and prolong it to "ba3".

MP3 Audio File

Was it a creation of the military government or did they just revert back to the original word? Read all about it from historical and linguistic point of view and politics behind it.

INTRODUCTION TO BURMESE(MYANMAR) LANGUAGE | မြန်မာဘာသာစကား အပြောအဆို သင်ခန်းစာများ - နိဒါန်း

Mingalaba! MP3 Audio File Oh, the same to you. Thank you!

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi greets Obama

“I use Burma very often because I am used to using it. But it does not mean that I require other people to do that as well.”

“And I'll make an effort to say Myanmar from time to time so you all feel comfortable.”


— Aung San Suu Kyi, Foreign Minister and State Counselor on April 22, 2016 to the foreign diplomatic corps —

Read the drama behind this. PDF Last Edited: 2016-09-04.

Learn the official language of over 50 million people of Myanmar — The Land of the Fast and the Strongthe most generous country in the world for the third consecutive year in 2016. A series of political and economic reforms started in 2011 has resulted in Myanmar emerging as the fastest growing economy in Asia. (According to Nikkei Asian Review, the World Bank on January 10, 2017 has revised the growth figure under Daw Aung Sun Suu Kyi leadership, but it is still a decent showing at an estimated 6.5 percent and only slightly lagged behind behind the Philippines, Laos and Cambodia.) The name "Myanmar" is not a creation by the military government back in 1989. The Kingdom of "Mien" 緬 was well-recorded by the Chinese, and mentioned by the 13th century romance writer Rustichello da Pisa in The Travels of Marco Polo (Il Milione in Italian) to describe the Mongol invasion of ancient Bagan.

“... one of the finest sights in the world; so exquisitely finished are they, so splendid and costly.”

( Marco Polo's description of Bagan temples)

To a Westerner, spoken Burmese sounds somewhat like Korean. Grammatically, the structure of Burmese language is simple, easy to learn, and quite similar to Mandarin Chinese. While Mandarin Chinese has 4 tones, Burmese is quite happy with just 3. Unlike English, there are no complicated tenses and verb structures to worry about. The only major challenge in learning Burmese language will be to get the right "stress" or "tone" when speaking to a native speaker, and perhaps confusion with words which sound similar, but have different meanings according to the context in which they are spoken.

Naing Tinnyuntpu

Hi, my name is Naing Tinnyuntpu | နိုင်တင်ညွန့်ပု | nine2-tin2-nyoon1-pu1. This website offering free online burmese lessons has expanded and improved through the years. It has started out just for fun without any audio or script, but now it includes more serious grammar materials. I wish you good luck and have fun.

Cool song in the background by Myanmar singer Jenny. Lyrics by Si Thu [986KB]

You can leave your comments, feedbacks, and suggestions down the page. As a result of one suggestion, Learn Myanmar Script on this website now appears consistently among the best on Google, YahooYahoo!, Bingbing, AOLAOL, AskAsk, LYCOSLYCOS, Yandex, and nortonNorton Safe Search.

What's New?

Everyday Spoken Burmese

Everyday Spoken Burmese (PDF) is for those seriously learning to understand and speak Burmese in a short time. It covers the most fundamental building blocks of the colloquial Myanmar Language. 92 pages, 444 KB. Released: 2017-05-02. Over 400 MP3 audio files are available online with seven pages of Lesson 62.

Myanmar Script Learning Guide

Myanmar Script Learning Guide PDF (Rev. E) now includes quick reference steps. Explanation notes are made easier to read. 78 pages, 588 KB (Updated: 2017-03-20)

Zipped Audio Files

Zipped Audio files for lessons 2a,2b,2c,28,33 and 59 with corrresponding text, CSV, and Excel files to aid in sorting and self-study. (Last Uploaded: 2017-03-15)

Who says Burmese is hard to learn?

Canadian ambassador speaks Burmese callout icon youtube Foreigners Speaking Burmese
Watch a YouTube Video by Canadian Embassy in Yangon showing Canadians speaking Burmese.

Forget the myth that Burmese is hard to learn. Watch former Canadian Ambassador Mark McDowell, currently the Head of International IDEA's Myanmar Office introduces himself in Burmese. He will also show you how to wear Longyi the right way.

Lesson 1: Tones in Burmese Language

Burmese language has 3 tones. The first tone is best described as a short utterance, while the second tone is neutral without stress in it. The third tone in Burmese has a kind of prolong lingering stress to it. It's almost as if you need more air from the lungs and more energy from the throat to get the third tone out.

Burmese 1,2,3 Tone System with Script

Reference table for Burmese 1,2,3 Tone System using the character "ka1" is available for download. This is a summary version of Myanmar Script Learning Guide in lesson 33.

Burmese 1,2,3 Tone System with Script

Revision: B
Revised Date: 2015-01-01
File Size: 108 KB
Number of Pages: 4

I used "blue" color code to indicate the vowel sound and "red" as tone. For simplicity, consonant modification symbols in "green" are not used as in lesson 33. Yellow background indicates the base for a particular vowel from which the tones can be changed. Since this is only a summary reference, variations in spelling are not shown.

Consider the sound of the first "a" in "America". That's the first tone. Compare this to "Ar" in "Argentina". That's the example of the second tone. When you scream with pain as in "Arghhhhhhh...." you put lots of stress to it. It is like "Ar" without the "r" sound in "Artist". That's the third tone. So, there you go. The first set of 3 tones with the Vowel "A" are...

Ah -- sounds like "Art" with silent "rt" ending.
Ar -- "Argentina" with silent "r".
Aah -- "ar" sound without "r" ending in "artist".

I will be using Burmese 1,2,3 Tone System to describe those 3 tones as...

| Ah1
အာ | Ah2
အား | Ah3

MP3 Audio File

| Sa1
စါ | Sa2
စါး | Sa3

MP3 Audio File

က | Ka1
ကာ | Ka2
ကား | Ka3

and so on.

MP3 Audio File

And yes, just a small "stress" or "tone" difference and you will have words with completely different meanings. Here is just to give you examples on how meanings of certain words could change with just a slight difference in tone.

| Ah1 -- stupid MP3 Audio File

အာ | Ah2 -- verbally picking up a fight MP3 Audio File

အား | Ah3 -- have free time MP3 Audio File

| Sa1 -- to start MP3 Audio File

စါ | Sa2 -- letter MP3 Audio File

စါး | Sa3 -- to eat MP3 Audio File

က | Ka1 -- to dance MP3 Audio File

ကာ | Ka2 -- to shield MP3 Audio File

ကား | Ka3 -- to exaggerate MP3 Audio File

The first tone will be like "de" sound in "deep". A good example of second tone will be "de" as in "demote". The third tone has more stress to it, such as "dee" in "deer".

ဒိ | De1
ဒီ | De2
ဒီး | De3

MP3 Audio File

I have to use "e" instead of "i" in this case, because "Di" will sound like "Dianna".

More examples of 3 tones with the Vowel "E" or "I":

စိ | Si1 -- sounds like "seat" without "t" ending. -- to scrutinize.

စီ | Si2 -- normal stress or tone as in "si" of the word "seduce". Yes, it does sound a bit like Spanish "si" - not "sy" as in "cyber". -- to arrange and organize objects.

စီး | Si3 -- pronounced as "see". -- to ride a vehicle.

MP3 Audio File

ပိ | Pi1 -- try saying "Pete" with silent "t". -- to be trapped under (something).

ပီ | Pi2 -- stress normally as in "Pe" of "Peru", -- be able to pronounce correctly.

ပီး | Pi3 -- pronounced just like "pee" or "pea"). This is close enough to ပြီး | Pyi3 -- to finish.

MP3 Audio File

အိ | E1 -- as in "eat" with silent "t".
အီ | E2 -- as in "Egyptian".
အီး | E3 -- as in "e-commerce".

MP3 Audio File

First tone example: a short "u" sound as in "Youth" with silent "th"; a short "u" sound in "amused".

Second tone example: Neutral tone of "u" as in "University".

Third tone example: stressed "u" which sounds like "ew" in "New", or as New Yorkers would say "Noo" in "New York".

Another third tone example would be a stressed "u" sound in "user".

ယု | Yu1 -- tender care as in ယုယ | yu1-yah1

ယူ | Yu2 -- to take something.

ရူး | Yu3 -- crazy, mentally disturbed.

MP3 Audio File

More examples of 3 tones with the Vowel "U":

ကု | Ku1 -- as in "uncouth" with silent "th". -- to treat a patient.

ကူ | Ku2 -- stress normally as in "Kuwait". -- to help.

ကူး | Ku3 -- sounds like "Cool" with silent "l". -- to swim.

MP3 Audio File

ပု | Pu1 -- pronounced like "poof" without "f" ending. -- short in stature. From my personal experience, the last syllable of my last name is often mispronounced by the Americans as "pu3" in the third tone, instead of the correct "pu1", which I find it quite amusing :-) Mandarin Chinese speakers will have no problem as it is equivalent to the 4th tone in Pinyin.

ပူ | Pu2 -- as in "pu" sound of "pudding". -- hot.

ပူး | Pu3 -- sounds like "pool" without "l" ending. -- to be joined.

MP3 Audio File

The first tone will be like "Colt" without the "lt" ending sound.
The second tone sounds like the first "co" of "Coca Cola".
The third tone example: try saying "cold" without "ld" ending.

ကို့ (ကိုယ့်) | Ko1
ကို (ကိုယ်) | Ko2
ကိုး | Ko3

MP3 Audio File

Due to eccentricity of English language, I will use "OE" or "OH" instead of the vowel "O" for the consonants "d" and "t" as follow:

ဒို့ | Doh1
ဒို | Doh2
ဒိုး | Doe3

MP3 Audio File

တို့ | Toh1 - to touch lightly.

တို | Toh2 - short as opposed to long.

တိုး | Toe3 - push and shove.

MP3 Audio File

That's a tough one to give examples. Try saying "Scott". The first tone is "ott" in "Scott" without ending "tt" sound; it is closer to British pronunciation of "o" rather than what an American would pronounce, i.e., "Scutt". It sounds like "odd" with silent "d".

Au1 : "Au" sound in "Auction".
Au2 : "Au" as in "Australia".
Au3 : "Au" sound of the word "August".

It should be noted that Burmese doesn't have closing sounds of the words. Just like "s" in French is silent in "Paris" and pronounced "Pa-ree", Burmese doesn't have any closing sounds you would expect in English. No "ch", "sh", "s", "r", "f" "l", "m", "n" ending consonants-- none. How would you go about saying words with silent ending? Simple. Those ending consonants always need some kind of tongue play and or closing of the lips. Don't move your tongue and don't close your lips, and you will be speaking perfect Burmese!

အော့ | Au1 -- to throw up in disgust as in အော့အန် | au1-un2

အော် | Au2 -- to shout.

အော | Au3 -- deep voice.

MP3 Audio File

More examples of tones with the Vowel "Au":

ပေါ့ | Pau1 -- try saying "pulse" without "lse" ending. -- light in weight.

ပေါ် | Pau2 -- somewhere in between "pulse" and "Paul". How about "Pauline"? -- exposed, or "politician".

ပေါ | Pau3 -- sounds like "Paul" without "l" sound. -- abundant.

MP3 Audio File

Next, a set of 3 tones with Vowel "Un" or "An":

The first tone example: "aun" as in "aunt".
the second tone example: Normal stress of "un" in "understanding".
The third tone example: the word "un" stressed as in "under".

အံ့ | Un1 -- to be amazed as in အံ့ဩ | un1-au3.

အန် | Un2 -- to throw up.

အမ်း | Un3 -- to return change as in အကြွေအမ်း | a-kjway2-un3.

MP3 Audio File

More examples with the Vowel "Un":

လန့် | Lun1 -- sounds like "lunt" in "blunt". -- fearful.

လန် | Lun2 -- somewhat between "lunt" and "London" as in luncheon -- to fall out from the place due to an abrupt force, such as when the roof being blown away by the strong wind.

လမ်း | Lun3 -- stressed "Lun" in "London" -- road, street, path.

MP3 Audio File

For some words, it seems more natural to use "An" rather than "Un":

ခန့် | khan1 -- sounds like British "can't"--not American "can't" -- Grand as in ခန့်ညား | khan1-nya3.

ခံ | khan2 -- unstressed "can" as in "canoe" -- to collect water.

ခန်း | khan3 -- stressed to the level of the word "cun" in "cunning" -- dried up.

I choose the "An" variant of "un" only because some words are already associated in English with certain pronunciations. Well, English is just like that. I will never understand why "P-U-T" is pronounced "Poot", but "B-U-T" is "But".

MP3 Audio File

အင့် | In1 : "ink" with silent "k"
အင် | In2 : "In" as in "Indiana".
အင်း | In3 : "In" as in "Innate"

MP3 Audio File

ဆင့် | Hsin1 -- sounds like "sink" without "k" ending. -- to stack up.

ဆင် | Hsin2 -- normal stress of "sin" in "sincerely". -- elephant.

ဆင်း | Hsin3 -- just like "sin" in "sinful". -- to go down.

What's the difference between "Hsin3" and "Sin3"? "Hsin3" has more hissing sound. Mandarin Chinese speakers will be able to detect the difference. If you can't, just say "Sin3".

MP3 Audio File

အေ့ | Ay1
အေ | Ay2
အေး | Ay3

MP3 Audio File

First tone example: sounds like "maize" without "ze" ending.
Second tone example: "May" as in "May I ?" without stressing on "may".
Third tone example: "may" stressed like in "amazing".

မေ့ | may1 -- "maize" without "ze" sound. -- forgotten.

မေ | may2 -- "may" as in "May I?" -- prefix used in front of some female names.

မေး | may3 -- stressed like in "amazing". -- to question.

MP3 Audio File

The closest one can get to the first tone is "self" without "lf" ending. Another example would be "wealth" without "lth" ending.

Second tone sounds like "Sal" in "Salary" without "l" ending, or "pal" without "l" ending in "maple".

The third tone will be like "sell" without double "l" ending. It belongs to "Wear", "tear", "pear" sound group.

ဆယ့် | hseare1
ဆယ် | hseare2
ဆဲ | hseare3

MP3 Audio File

More examples on tones with the Vowel "Eare":

မဲ့ | meare1 -- sounds like "mad" without "d" ending. -- to put on an unhappy face.

မယ် | meare2 -- not so much stress on "mare" like in "marry-making" -- indication of intention.

မည်း | meare3 -- stressed like "mare" in "nightmare" -- black in color.

MP3 Audio File

You may ask why don't I just drop the middle "e" and shorten those as

mare1
mare2
mare3

The reason why I didn't was because I couldn't use it consistently for words starting with the vowel "a" that sounds like "air", so I came up with this "eare" coding to associate the word with the burmese sound group below.

ဧည့် | Eare1 -- as in "Edward".
အယ် | Eare2 -- as in "Editor".
အဲ | Eare3 -- as in "Elephant".

MP3 Audio File

အိန့် (အိမ့်) | Ain1
အိန် (အိမ်) | Ain2
အိန်း (အိမ်း) | Ain3

MP3 Audio File

First tone example: "laint" as in "complaint" where "t" ain't included in the ending sound.
second tone example: somewhere between "laint" and "lane" such as in "flamboyant".
third tone example: fully stressed "lane".

လိမ့် | lain1 -- to roll.

လိမ် | lain2 -- to lie.

လိမ်း | lain3 -- apply or rub on the skin or hair.

MP3 Audio File

အုန့် (အုမ့်) (အုံ့) | Ome1
အုန် (အုမ်) (အုံ) | Ome2
အုန်း (အုမ်း) (အုံး) | Ome3

MP3 Audio File

First tone examples: "on't" sounds as in won't, don't.
Second tone example: "Om" with silent "m" in "Romania".
Third tone example: Fully stressed "Om" with silent "m" in "Rome".

တုံ့ | tone1 -- to retaliate as in တုံ့ပြန် | tone1-pyan2.

တုန် | tone2 -- shivering, rattling, vibrating.

တုံး | tone3 -- to chop.

I will use the "m" variant for some words like "gome2". With "n" it will sound like "gone".

To romanize this vowel, I have no choice but to use "m" variant because with "n", it becomes number "one".

MP3 Audio File

အိုင့် | Ine1
အိုင် | Ine2
အိုင်း | Ine3

MP3 Audio File

First tone example: "kind" without "d" ending.

Second tone example: the closest is unstressed "mine" in "minute". I am referring to the word "mine-nute" as in "minutely small", not the hour and "min-it" with the same spelling.

The third tone example: "tine" sound in "tiny", or simply "mine".

ကိုင့် | kine1 as in "kind"
ကိုင် | kine2 as in "kinetic"
ကိုင်း | kine3 that rhymes with "pine"

MP3 Audio File

ခိုင့် | khine1 - belong to the person named "Khine2".
ခိုင် | khine2 - durable and strong.
ခိုင်း | khine3 - order.

MP3 Audio File

အွန့် (အွမ့်) | Oon1
အွန် (အွမ်) | Oon2
အွန်း (အွမ်း) | Oon3

MP3 Audio File

First tone example: "doont" sound in "couldn't".
Second tone example: "Kung" sound in "Kung Fu", or "mun" in "monetary" or "monastery".
Third tone example: "Coon" as in "Cocoon".

တွန့် | toon1 -- similar to "doont" sound in "couldn't". -- wrinkles of the skin.

တွန် | toon2 -- the same stress level as "mun" in "monastery". -- crow of the cock.

တွန်း | toon3 -- as in "cartoon". -- to push.

MP3 Audio File

အောင့် | Oun1
အောင် | Oun2
အောင်း | Oun3

MP3 Audio File

First tone example: ကောင့် | koun1 - "Count" without ending "t".
Second tone example: ကောင် | Oun1 - "Coun as in "Counter-strike".
Third tone example: ကောင်း | Oun1 - "Coun" as in "Counseling".

MP3 Audio File

စောင့် | soun1 - to wait.

စောင် | soun2 - blanket.

စောင်း | soun3 - harp.

MP3 Audio File

Those words with single tones are categories by themselves. Those have English equivalent sound groups. I will refer to those groups as (c1, c2, c3, ..., c8). Since they can be expressed by English spellings without ambiguity, I will leave out the numbering.

Remember, there are no closing sounds in Burmese, so try saying those words without tongue play and keep your lips apart for the ending parts of the words.

(c1) cake, jade, eight, paid, sake, bake. E.g., စိတ် | sate - mind MP3 Audio File
(c2) wet, set, mad, yet. E.g., စက် | set - machine MP3 Audio File
(c3) cook, put, look. E.g., ဝတ် | woot - wear clothes MP3 Audio File
(c4) out, south, mouse, doubt. E.g., သောက် | thout - to drink MP3 Audio File
(c5) sight, pipe, night, dice, like, wide, guide. E.g., ဗိုက် | bite - stomach MP3 Audio File
(c6) up, suck, duck, mud. E.g., ရပ် | yut - stop; stand up MP3 Audio File
(c7) oat, coat, goat, soak. E.g., ဟုတ် | hote - true; yes MP3 Audio File
(c8) it, pit, sit. E.g., ချစ် | chit - love MP3 Audio File

This section correlates Burmese 1,2,3 Tone System with the tone classification in some studies: Low, High, Creaky tones and & Glottal Stops. Some consider "Glottal Stops" as the fourth tone while Burmese children are taught only three tone variations in school as in က ကာ ကား | ka1, ka2, ka3. "Tone" variations in Burmese as well as Chinese "Pinyin" always have the same vowel base. That means, you cannot go ka1, ka2, ka3 MP3 Audio File and then go kut MP3 Audio File as the fourth tone.

The suffix word သံ | thun2 MP3 Audio File from the word အသံ | a-thun2 MP3 Audio File means voice, sound, or noise. Although some of those voices or sounds in the Burmese language can be made to go up and down using tone marks (while maintaining the same vowel sound), some are just single tones and impossible to combine with tone change symbols. Official Burmese language by the Myanmar Language Commission recognizes four sound or သံ | thun2 groups as follow:

Another thing to take note. The four thun2 groups: Check tones, Rising tones, Falling tones & Glottal Stops in the official listing all add up to the total of 46 sounds with four missing sounds:

အွမ့် (အွန့်) | oon1<<MP3 AUDIO>>
အွမ် (အွန်) | oon2<<MP3 AUDIO>>
အွမ်း (အွန်း) | oon3<<MP3 AUDIO>>
အွတ် (အွပ်) | oot<<MP3 AUDIO>>

Burmese 1,2,3 Tone System used in this website covers the missing vowel group "oon" (See lesson 47) and Single Tone Group "oot" (See lesson 56).

Let's test out a few phrases with the tone system:

ဘယ်လောက်လဲ | beare2 lout leare3 -- How much?

ဘယ် | beare2 -- 2nd tone with the Vowel "Eare" such as "mare" tone in "marry-making". So, it has a normal stress like "bare" in "strawberry".

လောက် | lout -- belongs to single tone group (c4). It is clear enough, so not numbered.

လဲ | leare3 -- 3rd tone with the Vowel "Eare". Stressed like "mare" in "nightmare". Just replace "m" initial consonant sound with "l".

MP3 Audio File

ဘယ်သွားချင်လဲ | beare2 thwa3 chin2 leare3 -- Where do you want to go?

ဘယ် | beare2 -- 2nd tone with the Vowel "Eare" such as "bare" in "strawberry".

သွား | thwa3 -- 3rd tone with the Vowel "A", stressed like Ahhhhh...., so it would sound like tha-waahhhh".

ချင် | chin2 -- 2nd tone Vowel "In"; normal stress like "sin" in "sincerely". Just replace "s" with "ch" sound, i.e., "chin" in place of "sin".

လဲ | leare3 -- 3rd tone just like "mare" in "nightmare". Replace "m" with "l" and say it.

MP3 Audio File

စါးကြစို့ | sa3 ja1 zo1 -- let's eat!

စါး | sa3 -- third tone with the Vowel "A"; fully stressed as Sahhhhh....

ကြ | ja1 -- first tone with the Vowel "A"; short tone like "ja" in "Japan".

စို့ | zo1 -- first tone with the Vowel "O"; a short tone comparable to "colt" without "lt" sound. Replace "c" with "z", i.e., "zolt" without "lt" ending.

MP3 Audio File

To the beginner, it may all sound confusing at first, but the tones will get automatic and natural with practice. When I first learn Mandarin Chinese, I initially had trouble remembering Pinyin tone system. I used to refer back to the tone and pronunciation table, and with repetition, the tones become second-nature. I have included the tone reference table on the left column of every lessons for easy reference. MP3 sound files and Burmese script are later additions to the original lessons. Happy learning Burmese!!