I've been scratching my head for quite a while now because I've been trying way to hard to pronounce words in the 4th tone. I understand how it's supposed to work (with tone decreasing) but it felt unnatural in comparison to the preceding 3 tones. After listening to several different audio sources it finally occurred to me that every word I've ever uttered in English has seems to qualify as 4th tone. I was only having difficulty because I was wasting my time trying to drop my tone even further than I would have done otherwise. Is this a quirk unique to me or is this something all English speakers do and somehow isn't being mentioned to new learners?

1 Answer 1


I don't know how native English speakers feel, but my perception is that words like "hard" "luck" are close to the fourth tone when you read them alone.

An interesting fact is that even the tones are the same, the characters are pronounced significantly differently in a passage.

Here is a passage where all characters are of the fourth tone. You may try to read it aloud, or ask a native to read it (naturally, not robotic) for you and record it. Listen carefully to find out the truth.





Credit to Zhihu user 树神彧

  • A minor quibble: I only read the first bit, but the third line has 教训, in which 训 should be read as the neutral tone according to many (but not all) dictionaries. Jun 17, 2022 at 17:05

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