Pinyin is adopted and used by all over the world nowadays. It superseded older romanization systems like Wade-Giles (1859; modified 1892) and Chinese Postal Map Romanization, and replaced zhuyin as the way of Chinese phonetic instruction in mainland China. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) adopted pinyin as the standard romanization for contemporary Chinese in 1982 (ISO 7098:1982, superseded by ISO 7098:1991); the United Nations followed suit in 1986. The government of Singapore also accepted this system, as well as the United States' Library of Congress, the American Library Association, and many other international institutions.

The spelling of Chinese geographical or individual names in pinyin has become probably the most frequent strategy to transcribe them in English. Pinyin has also become the dominant strategy for getting into Chinese text into computers in Mainland China, in contrast to Taiwan exactly where Bopomofo is most commonly utilized.

Households outside Taiwan who speak Mandarin as a mother tongue use pinyin to assist children associate characters with spoken words which they already know. Chinese families outside Taiwan who speak some other language as their mother tongue use the technique to teach young children Mandarin pronunciation when they learn vocabulary in elementary school.

Since 1958, Pinyin has been actively used in adult education, making it less complicated for formerly illiterate folks to continue with self-study right after a brief period of Pinyin literacy instruction.

Pinyin has turn into a tool for many foreigners to understand the Mandarin pronunciation, and is utilized to explain both the grammar and spoken Mandarin coupled with hanzi. Books containing both Chinese characters and pinyin are often used by foreign learners of Chinese; pinyin's role in teaching pronunciation to foreigners and kids is related in some respects to furigana-based books (with hiragana letters written above or subsequent to kanji) in Japanese or totally vocalised texts in Arabic ("vocalised Arabic").

The tone-marking diacritics are typically omitted in popular news stories as well as in scholarly works. This results in some degree of ambiguity as to which words are becoming represented.

The usage of pinyin is more and more popular today. So it seems to be more and more important to normalize the usage of pinyin for both foreigners and Chinese.