I'm already well acquainted with erhua (儿化) in putonghua, essentially appending 儿 to the ends of words (or reading it when 儿 isn't written, as sometimes people do with 花 or 八点 etc). Many of these words are infact standard in putonghua, as in 这儿, and 花儿 and so on, and erhua's usage is seen mainly in Beijing. Southern speakers often have replacements for these, such as a simple 花 for 花儿, and 这里 for 这儿.

In northern dialects, this is sometimes taken further, to words such as 事儿, 板儿砖, and even 明儿 sometimes to replace 明天.

This leads me to ask specifically how accepted erhua is. As a key element of the Beijing dialect, it's often seen on TV, and although not used as much in formal broadcasts, it is heard in words such as 这儿, as mentioned before. How do most speakers perceive erhua? Is it viewed as just dialectal differences, and non-standard, or is it more to the extent of being slightly more prestigious than other dialects (though obviously not truly standard and formal putonghua)?

Are there any native speakers who can try explain their sentiments towards erhua, and the opinions they draw from a speaker who uses it more than average?

  • Well, the Beijing dialect is THE standard in PRC. You can be incapable incompetent to adopt it, but you cannot refuse to accept it (at least, not inside PRC). Sorry if I am off-topic. XD
    – Henry HO
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 15:31
  • 6
    Beijng dialect's not quite putonghua. The phonology of 北京话 is the basis for 普通话, but 普通话's not the same thing (a lot of 北京话 vocab isn't accepted into Standard Chinese, and likewise a lot of other regional dialects have vocab which is accepted as part of putonghua). Also, the grammar has a historical basis rather than simply taking beijing's grammar as standard
    – sqrtbottle
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 16:58
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    @Sqrtbottle Many people (not necessarily the commenter above though) mistake the general traits of Northern dialects for 北京话 and believe 北京话 is 普通话. They are not fully aware of the special vocabs and pronunciations in real 北京话.
    – NS.X.
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 17:32

5 Answers 5

  1. Most native Chinese will resort "儿" sound to Beijing dialect.
  2. The tail sound "儿" didn't add any additional meaning to the meaning in most cases.
  3. With or without a "儿" only differs in the slight Emotion variations towards the listeners, which is quite subjective.
  • What type of emotional variation tends to be perceived by people listening (or at the very least, what emotional difference does it make to you)?
    – sqrtbottle
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 20:20
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    one example is " 你没事吧? (are you okay/all right?) " , reply1: 我没事. reply2: 我没事(儿) . obviously, the second reply with "儿" shows more optimistic attitude than the first one. it sounds like reply2 is emphasizing I've no trouble at all, you don't have to worry anything about me friend. like that. ...
    – BOBO
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 4:07
  • Since you claimed that most native speaker resort erhua, I'm want to ask what is the data source?
    – Lucius Hu
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 22:21

Disagree on FortCpp's answer.

Surely Beijing dialect is not putonghua, none dialect is considered as putonghua if you put it this way.

I'd say Beijing dialect is very close(if not the most) to putonghua.

Back to the question, erhua is part of the putonghua standard, no question about that. For instance, "小孩" sounds (really) strange without a '儿', in fact even if '儿' is not appear in the reference, you should pronounce it unless you're from Taiwan or something :)

I can't tell you the grammar rules but cases like above are not rare.

My opinion is, avoid using erhua in general and pay attention to those cases that must have it

  • Putonghua is based on Zhending dialect of Hebei Province whose majority residents were former Manchu residents of inner Beijing. In this sense we could say inner Beijing dialect is the foundation of phonetical putonghua.
    – Lucius Hu
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 22:34

It is different from place to place, and there is no standard. Normally, it won't appear in official announcements, laws, scientific publications, etc.

But it is widely used in daily life. For native Chinese, when we move from one place to another, even if it is nearer, we still need time to get use to it, at the same time when we get use to the local accent.

Sometimes, it is crucial to understand some specific words which has totally different meaning after 儿化. For example, 白面儿 means drug, not 白面 which is flour.


I would like to add that there are some words in which 儿化 (erhua) optional and other words in which it is necessary. For example, earlier today I heard a Chinese person tell his friend that he had to write a letter to his boss. His friend replied, "你给老板写信,有什么事?"

The last word requires 儿化 at the end (although writing it is optional). If someone does not add 儿化 at the end his or her pronunciation will not be considered standard.

On the other hand, if you don't add 儿化 at the end of 一点 your pronunciation will still be considered standard, because here 儿化 is optional. Here's a sample sentence: 我会说一点英语。(Once again, writing 儿化 is optional.)

  • Instead of the using erhua and say 有什么事儿,a more standard way of speaking is 有什么事吗.
    – Lucius Hu
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 22:26

Beijng dialect is not putonghua at all. As a northern people, I don't like Beijing dialect personally. To me it just sounds too soft and one of the reason that I believe is erhua.

Formally, in putonghua, one should remove erhua as much as one can. For example, when you read text in putonghua, if you don't see 儿 explicitly, then you should not add it. But if you read it in Beijing dialect, you can add as many as you want.

I suggest you not to use Beijing dialect outside Beijing. In other northern dialects, erhua may happen differently. Using putonghua normally won't bring you any trouble in communications.

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