When I first learnt the numbers, I learnt
一 with the first tone
But now, during a Memrise lesson, they teach me that
一个 should be pronounced
yi2 ge4 or
Is this correct and, if so, is there a reason for that pronunciation?
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一 is pronounced in the first tone when it stands alone. It is pronounced in the fourth tone when it precedes a first, second, or third tone. However, it is pronounced in the second tone when it precedes a fourth tone. 不 is a bit similar: It is also pronounced in the fourth tone when it precedes a first, second, or third tone. However, it is pronounced in the second tone when it precedes a fourth tone.
Some examples (from: http://web.mit.edu/jinzhang/www/pinyin/tones/index.html#1bu but I used simplified characters instead and corrected a tone which is incorrect on that website)
不慢 (búmàn) (not slow)
一天 (yìtiān) (a day)
不吃 (bùchī) (not eat)
一年 (yìnián) (a year)
不忙 (bùmáng) (not busy)
一晚 (yìwǎn) (one night)
Since 个 has a fourth tone, the tone of 一 should become a second tone. Although in practice 个 is most often spoken as a neutral tone, the original tone is used for the tone sandhi.
YI2 GE4 or yi2 ge5 are both correct, and it depends on where you using them. When we use 一 and a quantifier together, we always proniunce 一 as Yi2, and there is no specific reason.