I am struggling with the pronunciation of the 一 in 一边. The usage I am particularly concerned with is describing simultaneous tasks, as here. My understanding is that 一 is pronounced as first tone when alone or as an ordinal but fourth tone otherwise, consistent with this similar question about 一个 and this question about 一线城市. As such, I would expect 一边 to be pronounced yi4 bian1. However, in the first link above, and also in every dictionary I look at, it is first tone. What is the correct way to pronounce this word?

  • "现代汉语词典":一 [注意] '一'字单用或在一词一句末尾念阴平:如'十一、一一得一,在去声字前念阳平,如'一半、一共',在阴平、阳平、上声字前念去声,如'一天、一年、一点"。本词典为简便起见,条目中的'一'字,都注阴平 – user6065 Jun 6 '16 at 19:04

Yìbiān would be correct.

For ordinals, it is pronounced yī. In other cases, When followed by fourth tone, it takes the second tone (一对, yí duì). For all other following tones, it takes on the fourth tone.

The reason it is not marked in dictionaries, is because the rules for tone sandhi are few and straightforward. Isolated cases are when a tone is dropped (or replaced by the fifth neutral tone), and those cases are usually indicated.


The regular use is exemplified below:

一次 24 yícì

一个 24 yígè

一旦 24 yídàn

一起 43 yìqǐ

一撇 43 yìpiě

一种 43 yìzhǒng

一人 42 yìrén

一行 42 yìxíng

一边 41 yìbiān

一堆 41 yìduī

一般 41 yìbān

In addition, When 一 follows another character to form an immediate constituent, no matter how the tone changes, yi remains the first tone.

第一 41 dìyī

守一 31 shǒuyī

专一 11 zhuānyī

同一 21 tóngyī

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