It is typical of the Wu dialects, being rich in vowels and conservative in having many initials. And it has many similarities with the Shanghai dialect, being comprehensible between the speakers.
Considered one of the most flowing and elegant languages of China, Suzhou dialect is mutually intelligible with dialects spoken in neighbouring Shanghai, and the dialects spoken its satellite cities of Kunshan, Changshu, Zhangjiagang etc. It has noticeable differences with Wuxi dialect, although this does not render the two dialects unintelligible to each other. It is also partially intelligible with dialects spoken in Hangzhou and Ningbo. Neither native Mandarin nor Cantonese speakers understand Suzhou dialect.
Due to the city's population flow patterns, many Suzhou-area residents native to the city do not speak Suzhou dialect, but can usually understand it, although the level of fluency varies. Standard Mandarin, therefore, is spoken throughout the city.
Suzhou dialect has a set of voiced initials and exhibits unvoiced unaspirated and aspirated stops, there are unvoiced and voiced fricatives sets. Moreover, palatized initials also feature.
Suzhou has one tripthong rime, . Unlike Shanghai, it has no nasalised rimes, although it does have a set of rimes which end in a nasal stop. Middle Chinese entering tone characters which end in end as a glottal stop in Suzhou. Middle Chinese nasal endings have merged with rimes which end with in Suzhou. Middle Chinese ending rimes have split into two types in Suzhou. Those which have a high fronted main vowel merge with ending rimes. Those which possess a palatising medial and back main vowel, retain the ending.
In Suzhou, part of the Middle Chinese Shang tone characters has merged with the modern yin qu tone.