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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.


TONE REFERENCE TABLE
Audio Pronunciation
Ah1 "a" in "art" with silent "rt"
Ah2 "ar" in "Argentina" with silent "r"
Ah3 "ar" in "Artist" with slilent "r"
De1 "de" in "deep" with silent "p"
De2 "de" as in "demote"; "demand"
De3 "dee" as in "deer"; "decent"
Ko1 "colt" with silent "lt"
Ko2 as in "co-author"; "cocaine"
Ko3 "cold" wit silent "ld"
Yu1 "u" in "Youth" with silent "th"
Yu2 "u" as in "university"; "utensil"
Yu3 "u" as in "user"; "Unix"
Shan1 as in "shunt" with silent "t"
Shan2 "shun" as in "chandelier"
Shan3 as in "shun"
Au1 as in "auction"
Au2 as in "Australia";"auditor"
Au3 as in "August"
May1 "maize" with silent "ze"
May2 "may" as in "May I?"
May3 "ay" in "amazing"
Sin1 "sink" with silent "k"
Sin2 "sin" as in "sincerely"
Sin3 "sin" as in "sinful"; "Singapore"
Un1 "aunt" with silent "t"
Un2 "un" in "understanding"; "umbrella"
Un3 "un" as in "under"
Meare1 "melt" with silent "lt"
Meare2 "mel" in "Melbourne" with silent "l"
Meare3 "mare" of "nightmare"
Tain1 "taint" with silent "t"
Tain2 "tain" as in "Captain"
Tain3 "tain" as in "maintain"
Bine1 "Bryant" without "r"
Bine2 as in "carbine"
Bine3 as in "combine"
Dome1 as in "don't"
Dome2 close to "dominate"
Dome3 as in "dome"
Toon1 "doont" in "couldn't"
Toon2 "mon" in "monastery"
Toon3 "oon" as in "cartoon"
Koun1 "count" with silent "t"
Koun2 "coun" in "counter-strike"
Koun3 "coun" as in "counsel"
ate cake, jade, eight, paid, bake
et wet, set, mad, yet
oot cook, put, look
out out, south, mouse, doubt
ike/ite sight, pipe, night, dice, like
ut up, nut, sucks
oat oat, coat, goat, soak
it it, pit, sit
Read this page with Myanmar Script

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 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:

  • pyu1 chin3 - action (does/do)
  • pfyit chin3 - occurrence (be/is/are/am)
  • 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:

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

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 wi1-but (postpositional markers) MP3 Audio File and 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:

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

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

Example 2:

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

thi1 byi2 la3 -- Do you know now? MP3 Audio File

Example 3:

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

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 hmun2 deare2, which is considered as a verb of pfyit-chin3-pya1 kri1-ya2 (verb clause that shows occurrence) type. Although deare2 seems to correspond with the verb "is", it cannot be used consistently as "is" in some other sentence constructions.

Example:

hote deare2 -- Yes!

It must be stressed that Burmese equivalent of "be/is/are/am" like 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 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 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 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 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 "nun2" : MP3 Audio File four by construction, and four by meaning:

  1. Combination; Compound |
    poun3-sut nun2 MP3 Audio File

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

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

  2. Original; Innate |
    pin2-ko2 nun2 MP3 Audio File

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

  3. Qualitative |
    gome2-yay2-pya1 nun2 MP3 Audio File

    E.g., 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 |
    kri1-ya2 nun2 MP3 Audio File

    E.g., 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 |
    ta1-u3-hsine2 nun2 MP3 Audio File

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

  6. Common Terms |
    a-mya3-hsine2 nun2 MP3 Audio File

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

  7. Psychological; Abstract |
    sate-ta1-za1 nun2 MP3 Audio File

    E.g., courage, love, faith

  8. Conglomeration |
    a-su1-pya1 nun2 MP3 Audio File

    E.g., 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 ba1-hu1-woot MP3 Audio File in most cases simply add a suffix word dway2 MP3 Audio File to the noun in the colloquial language and mya3 MP3 Audio File in the literary form. Those suffix words are classified as particles.

Burmese language has several conjunctions known as 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. hlyin2 -- if (literary) MP3 Audio File

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  10. leare3 -- also (colloquial/literary)) MP3 Audio File

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a comparison between Burmese Tones Vs. Mandarin Chinese Pinyin Tones. Consider the three stress levels in Burmese:

Ma1 = sounds like "Ma" in "Malaysia" MP3 Audio File
Ma2 = "ma" as in "diploma" MP3 Audio File
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.

Further clarifications to "a1"

(31 Dec 2013)

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 shin2 to a higher pitch shin3 within a fraction of a second.

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 "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 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" (noun) is spelled with the 33rd Burmese Character (Ah1), followed by the third character (Ga1) and the word "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 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 "Kah1 ba2" (please dance) and differentiate it from "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

Zawgyi font is the most popular font in Myanmar. It is the choice of font for an estimated 11 million facebook users in the country with 54.8 million population in the year 2017. Unicode is mistakenly identified by some as a type of font. Unicode is the International Standard used in the World Wide Web and supported by major operating systems including those used in the mobile phones. Currently, many Burmese font types are available that meet Unicode Standard.

Zawgyi, unfortunately, does not meet either Unicode Standard or that of W3C, which defines the standards for the World Wide Web. In earlier days before the Internet usage became widespread in Myanmar, Zawgyi font in stand-alone PC's had no issue. However, as the World is connected through the Internet, it is less desirable choice of font for coding professional websites. Nevertheless, it can still be used for Personal Computers, and it still remains the choice of font for Myanmar people. For more technical information, refer to this Wikipedia page. Burmese font used to code pages in this website is Unicode-compliant.


DOWNLOAD UNICODE-COMPLIANT BURMESE FONT

DOWNLOAD ZAWGYI FONT AND KEYBOARD FOR PC USE

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

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

Obama does Myanmar Greeting
“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: 2016-09-08.

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 FOURTH CONSECUTIVE YEARS IN 2017. 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" 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)
Naing Tinnyuntpu

Hi, my name is Naing Tinnyuntpu. 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 in 2017?

Myanmar Script Learning Guide

Myanmar Script Learning Guide PDF (Rev. F) is further improved with larger font-size and new design. It now comes with more than 740 MP3 Audio recordings in seven pages of FREE ONLINE AUDIO SUPPORT. 104 pages, 650 KB (Updated: 2017-10-30)

Everyday Spoken Burmese

Everyday Spoken Burmese PDF (Rev. B) 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. 102 pages, 466 KB. Revised: 2017-10-11. Over 400 MP3 audio files are available online with eight pages of Lesson 62.

Burmese Phrasebook

Survival Phrases in Myanmar PDF (Rev. J2) with increase in font-size for better readability using tablets or smaller devices. 36 pages, 427 KB. Updated: 2017-09-29.

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.

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
Ah2
Ah3

MP3 Audio File

Sa1
Sa2
Sa3

MP3 Audio File

Ka1
Ka2
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

Ah2 -- verbally picking up a fight MP3 Audio File

Ah3 -- have free time MP3 Audio File

Sa1 -- to start MP3 Audio File

Sa2 -- letter MP3 Audio File

Sa3 -- to eat MP3 Audio File

Ka1 -- to dance MP3 Audio File

Ka2 -- to shield MP3 Audio File

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".

De1
De2
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":

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

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.

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

MP3 Audio File

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

Pi2 -- Stress normally as in "Pe" of "Peru" -- be able to pronounce correctly.

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

MP3 Audio File

E1 -- as in "eat" with silent "t".
E2 -- as in "Egyptian".
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".

Yu1 -- tender care as in yu1-yah1

Yu2 -- to take something.

Yu3 -- crazy, mentally disturbed.

MP3 Audio File

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

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

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

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

MP3 Audio File

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.

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

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.

Ko1
Ko2
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:

Doh1
Doh2
Doe3

MP3 Audio File

Toh1 - to touch lightly.

Toh2 - short as opposed to long.

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!

Au1 -- to throw up in disgust as in au1-un2.

Au2 -- to shout.

Au3 -- deep voice.

MP3 Audio File

More examples of tones with the Vowel "Au":

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

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

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

MP3 Audio File

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".

Un1 -- to be amazed as in un1-au3.

Un2 -- to throw up.

Un3 -- to return change as in a-kjway2-un3.

MP3 Audio File

More examples with the Vowel "Un":

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

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.

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

MP3 Audio File

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

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

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

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

In1 : "ink" with silent "k"
In2 : "In" as in "Indiana".
In3 : "In" as in "Innate"

MP3 Audio File

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

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

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

Ay1
Ay2
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".

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

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

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.

hseare1
hseare2
hseare3

MP3 Audio File

More examples on tones with the Vowel "Eare":

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

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

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.

Eare1 -- as in "Edward".
Eare2 -- as in "Editor".
Eare3 -- as in "Elephant".

MP3 Audio File

Ain1
Ain2
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".

lain1 -- to roll.

lain2 -- to lie.

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

MP3 Audio File

Ome1
Ome2
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".

tone1 -- to retaliate as in tone1-pyan2.

tone2 -- shivering, rattling, vibrating.

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

Ine1
Ine2
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".

kine1 as in "kind"
kine2 as in "kinetic"
kine3 that rhymes with "pine"

MP3 Audio File

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

MP3 Audio File

Oon1
Oon2
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".

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

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

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

MP3 Audio File

Oun1
Oun2
Oun3

MP3 Audio File

First tone example: koun1 - "Count" without ending "t".
Second tone example: koun2 - "Coun as in "Counter-strike".
Third tone example: koun3 - "Coun" as in "Counseling".

MP3 Audio File

soun1 - to wait.

soun2 - blanket.

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., sate - mind MP3 Audio File
(c2) wet, set, mad, yet. E.g., set - machine MP3 Audio File
(c3) cook, put, look. E.g., woot - wear clothes MP3 Audio File
(c4) out, south, mouse, doubt. E.g., thout - to drink MP3 Audio File
(c5) sight, pipe, night, dice, like, wide, guide. E.g., bite - stomach MP3 Audio File
(c6) up, suck, duck, mud. E.g., yut - stop; stand up MP3 Audio File
(c7) oat, coat, goat, soak. E.g., hote - true; yes MP3 Audio File
(c8) it, pit, sit. E.g., 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 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 thun2 MP3 Audio File from the word 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 thun2 groups as follow:

  • thet-thun2 MP3 Audio File - First tone: - Ah1, E1, U1, Ay1, Au1, O1, In1, Oun1, Ine1, Un1, Ain1, Ome1, Eare1. There are 18 of those with 23 different spellings, out of which 18 of those use tone change symbol out myit, which looks like a dot (.) under the character. In total, there are only 13 distinct sounds as represented by romanization with 1,2,3 tone system above. This group is identified as Creaky Tone by some studies. Myanmar Language Commission defines this group as Checked tone.

  • tet-thun2 MP3 Audio File - Second tone: - Ah2, E2, U2, Ay2, Au2, O2, In2, Oun2, Ine2, Un2, Ain2, Ome2, Eare2. There are 18 of those with 23 different spellings. In total, there are only 13 distinct sounds as represented by the romanization with 1,2,3 tone system above. This group is identified as Low Tone by some studies. Myanmar Language Commission defines this group as Rising tone.

  • nain1-thun2 MP3 Audio File - Third tone: - Ah3, E3, U3, Ay3, Au3, O3, In3, Oun3, Ine3, Un3, Ain3, Ome3, Eare3. There are 18 of those with 21 different spellings, out of which 18 of those use tone change symbol wit-sa1-pout, which looks like a column(:). In total, there are only 13 distinct sounds as represented by romanization with 1,2,3 tone system above. This group is identified as High Tone by some studies. Myanmar Language Commission defines this group as Falling tone.

  • tine2-thun2 MP3 Audio File - Single tone Groups: - Ate, Et, Out, Ike, Ut, Oat, It There are 10 of those using the closing thut which looks like a small "c" over the second character when spelled. In total, there are only 7 distinct sounds as represented by romanization with 1,2,3 tone system above. This group is identified as Ten Glottal Stops by Myanmar Language Commission.

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:

oon1<<MP3 AUDIO>>
oon2<<MP3 AUDIO>>
oon3<<MP3 AUDIO>>
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). The Burmese Script version of this page has the list of 46 sounds with romanization and MP3 audio files.

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

beare2 lout leare3 -- How much?

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

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

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

MP3 Audio File

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

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

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

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

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

MP3 Audio File

sa3 ja1 zo1 -- let's eat!

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

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

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!!