Mandarin tones

Pitch Contours of Mandarin Tones

Practice using the four Mandarin tones.  is a tonal language, which means that different tones can change the meaning of a word, even if the pronunciation and spelling are otherwise the same. It is essential to learn the different tones if you wish to speak Mandarin Chinese correctly. Mandarin Chinese has four main tones, as follows:

· The first tone is a high, flat tone.

  • Your voice stays flat, with no rise or dip in the way it sounds. Using the word "ma" as an example, the first is the use of sound symbols above letter said: "mā".

· The second tone is a rising tone.

  • Your voice rises from a low to middle pitch, as if you were asking someone to repeat something by saying "huh?" or "what?" The second tone is using the symbol "má".

· The third tone is a dipping tone.

  • The pitch goes from middle to low to high, like when you say the letter "B". When two third tone syllables are near each other, the second one retains its third tone sound while the first takes the sound of the second tone. The third tone is using the symbol "mǎ".

· The fourth tone is a lowering tone.

  • The pitch goes rapidly from high to low as if giving a command e.g. stop! Or as if you're reading a book and have come across something new and interesting and are saying "huh". The fourth tone is using the symbol "mà".
  • The Neutral tone is not on the tone chart because it is different from the other four tones because it has no defined pitch. The Chinese pronounce the neutral sounds lightly and fastly.And then syllables with a neutral tone have no tone mark.This tone is usually very easy to pick up. Note that aside from grammatical particles, single syllable words cannot have a neutral tone.
  • Easy enough? If not, don't fret. It's definitely recommended to hear the tones demonstrated by a native speaker since it's hard to get an idea of what they sound like purely through text.

Mandarin tones
Mandarin tones

5 thoughts on “Mandarin tones

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