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因为 is usually pronounced as yīn wèi, but sometimes I hear it pronounced as yīn wéi which really brings out the meaning as reason (yīn) being (wéi).

Which pronunciation came about first? Do regional differences account for this phenomenon? Are the two completely interchangeable in meaning?

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They are 99.9% the same, just like "increase" in English. You can read it as in'crease or 'increase. Luckily in cantonese there is only one pronunciation: jan1 wai6 (yan wai). – Derek 朕會功夫 Mar 17 '12 at 5:07
Actually, I think 'increase is a noun, while in'crease is a verb. There are many examples of noun-verb pairs distinguished by stress. Another one is record. – MickG Sep 15 '14 at 19:41
up vote 9 down vote accepted

I wouldn't have believed you unless I checked it myself, but it appears these are both interchangeable with one source claiming:

In fact, in the south of China, people says “yīn wèi”, while in the north people say “yīn wéi”. The only difference lies in the pronunciation. Basically, they are exactly the same.

My wife and most of my friends are from the South which is maybe why I have always heard it as yīn wèi. says:

因为 (simplified, Pinyin yīnwèi or yīnwéi, traditional 因為)

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I'm not arguing about your answer, just for your information: in Modern Chinese Dictionary(1996, a bit old ...), the pronunciation is listed as 'yīn wei' (neutral) or 'yīn wèi'. – fefe Dec 22 '11 at 15:51
+1 I learned it as yin1wei4, but the fact that different pronunciations exist does not surprise me. – Michael Robinson May 15 '12 at 6:17

IMHO, yīnwèi is a modern Chinese WORD, and yīnwéi is a PHRASE from classical Chinese. Technically, you should always pronounce yīnwèi for you are speaking modern Chinese, but actually, you can pronounce what you like, nobody treated yīnwéi as a phrase unless they are dealing with classical Chinese.

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a good example is 倒因為果 ( dào yīn wéi guǒ ) – AngelLeliel Oct 12 '12 at 5:47

This online dictionary with pronunciations will help you.

General speaking, we use the second pronunciation when it is a verb.

为 (爲) wéi
◎ 做,行,做事:~人。~时。~难。不~己甚(不做得太过分)。 ◎ 当做,认做:以~。认~。习以~常。 ◎ 变成:成~。 ◎ 是:十两~一斤。 ◎ 治理,处理:~政。 ◎ 被:~天下笑。 ◎ 表示强调:大~恼火。 ◎ 助词,表示反诘或感叹:敌未灭,何以家~? ◎ 姓。

为 (爲) wèi 替,给:为民请命。为虎作伥。为国捐躯。 表目的:为了。为何。 对,向:不足为外人道。 帮助,卫护。

笔画数:4; 部首:丶; 笔顺编号:4354

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I never heard any ordinary Chinese speak 因为 as yīnwèi. – Yuan Oct 9 '12 at 2:07
Go to the south. All the 南方人 I know say yin1wei4, and no one says yin1wei2. – Stumpy Joe Pete Oct 9 '12 at 7:05

I asked the same question to someone a while ago the answer was:

为(wéi) would be how you prounance it for 选为 (Selected to be/ellected) were 为(wéi) means to be or to become

为(wèi) would be how you prounance it for 因为 (Becuase / Reason Being) were 为(wèi) means being or becuase of

Note: no-native speaker take what I have learnt with a grain of salt

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I suggest you say yīn wéi because it sounds more standard (Mandarin) to me. No reason, just the feeling.

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No, yīn wéi is not correct, or at least is not standard. See – ziyuang Oct 8 '12 at 12:36
Thanks for the update. It's incorrect according to many authority sources. I even did not notice this before! But I heard much more yīn wéi than yīn wèi. That's interesting :) – Aw Qirui Guo Oct 9 '12 at 14:07
Maybe they are affected by their dialects. – ziyuang Oct 9 '12 at 15:32

It should be yīnwèi. See Zdic. yīnwéi may be from some dialects and is not standard.

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