I am reading my textbook and I notice that the the pinyin next to


is written as


Why is the first tone not present on the bian? The weird thing is that in my other textbook the pinyin translation of 东边 shows both the first tones present?

Can someone explain to me this, I do not remember there being a rule like this?

  • see grammars (reason must really have been mentioned many times before),in fact it seems Aug30 (last Wednesday) was the last time see 要读轻声 in comment #4 of chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/26277/…
    – user6065
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 0:32
  • pronunciation depends on meaning, 1st tone if it means the noun "East side, the East, in the East" , neutral tone, if it part of a phrase of locality meaning "to the east of" e.g.华盛顿广场东边的一个街区
    – user6065
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 1:55
  • One should always pronounce the 1st tone in the standard mandarin.
    – dan
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 10:12

2 Answers 2


In Chinese, there is the neutral tone (轻声) which does not have any tone marks.

In the word 东边, the "边" can be pronounced with a neutral tone.

  • Is this a rule that must be followed, because in my other resources it doesn't place a neutral tone for some reason.
    – Belphegor
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 0:32
  • 边 in 东边 can be pronounced neutral, and can also be pronounced with the 1st tone. I cannot come up with a rule about when to which now. There are some syllables that must be neutral, but then I think no resource will give it a tone mark.
    – fefe
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 1:14

东边 in online 新华字典(the most authoritative dictionary in China) is marked with dōngbiān. So the correct answer is "dōngbiān".

In practice, it could often be pronounced as dōngbian, but the standard mandarin should be "dōngbiān".

So, you should fill with "dōngbiān" in any types of exams.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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