Chinese like any other language has its peculiarities; firstly it’s 40,000 characters that have to be learnt first and secondly is its tonal nature. Both seem to be daunting tasks for speakers of any other language to master. However this was realized and thus a system of Romanized Chinese was developed in the 1950’s which can be used to understand the tonal expression of Chinese along with the pronunciation.
Pinyin was adopted in China as the official Romanization of the Mandarin Chinese script and has since been recognized in Singapore and also by the American Library Association and also the US Library of Congress. Apart from aiding people understand the Chinese script it is also a vital tool for transfer of data internationally. Pinyin focuses on the tonal nature of Chinese; as Chinese has 4 basic tones which are the flat tone, the rising tone, the falling rising tone and the falling tone the pronunciation of the words with these tones can totally change the meaning of the word altogether. For instance while ma (spoken with a flat tone) means mother, má (spoken with a rising tone) means a hemp. Thus you have to be really careful when you go about speaking Chinese as you will not want to convey the wrong meaning!
However do not think that this will give you a good idea of how the characterization in Chinese works. In order to understand the characters in Chinese you will have to write them out. The characters in Chinese are pictographic and thus require some practice so that a good understanding may be gained.