Chinese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Chinese language. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Following on from this question Asking "what's the pinyin/character for X?".

I've had difficulty previously asking native speakers which tone I should use for a particular character if I can't pick it by just listening.

The problem is they don't understand what I'm asking in most instances.

How do I say "Which tone should I use for this character?"

In the past I've used "第几声" for which tone, but this doesn't seem to be commonly understood.

share|improve this question
up vote 2 down vote accepted

这个字/词怎么念? = How do you pronounce this character/word?

这个字的发音是第几声? = Which tone should I use for this character?

share|improve this answer

I have also used 第几声 and have had better success with it than anything else. The real problem that you're up against is that most Chinese people know this intuitively rather than intellectually. Many if not most native English speakers might be very hard pressed to tell you what a preposition was, even though they use them every single day. I think it's like that for most native Chinese speakers who aren't language instructors.

share|improve this answer

Have you tried using 發音 or as in 這個字你怎麼發音 or 這個字怎麼念

Sometimes, I think it's better to ask if it sounds like another character (by association).

E.g., 這個字像「心臟」的「心」嗎?

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.