I'm aware that (xiè​) and (xiě​) are theoretically meant to sound the same (ignoring tones):

谢 has the bopomofo/zhuyin ㄒㄧㄝˋ
写 has the bopomofo/zhuyin ㄒㄧㄝˇ

But, to my ear at least, when people say 谢 it sounds like it rhymes with "ear", and when people say 写 it sounds like it rhymes with "air". They genuinely sound quite different to me. Maybe I'm just wrong about this, so...

Question: Do 谢 and 写 sound different (ignoring the tones)?

  • 1
    Not answering your question, just my two cents that might help with your Mandarin pronunciation: to my ear (I'm a Mainlander), 谢/写 rhymes with neither "ear" nor "air". It rhymes with the "ye" part of "yes".
    – Betty
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 1:46
  • Maybe would help to clarify what English dialect you speak.
    – awe lotta
    Commented Dec 31, 2022 at 23:54

1 Answer 1


They are the same to the native ears. But I do have a theory why you feel like that.

Tones affect the length of a syllable. Tone 3 is the longest one, while Tone 4 is very short.

The glide /j/ is always short. With Tone 3, the prolonged time is achieved mainly by the main vowel /e/, so you hear /e/ more. With Tone 4, the syllable is short, cutting the time of vowel /e/, and /j/ is more catchy to your ears.

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