If there are two third tones in a row, e.g. ni3hao3, the first one is pronounced as a second tone, i.e. ni3hao3=ni2hao3. At least, that's what I was told in a course. What happens with more consecutive third tones, e.g. with wo3 hen3 hao3?

  • 1
    possible duplicate of How does tone sandhi apply in people's names? . The questions are different but the answer covers your scenario.
    – NS.X.
    Sep 14, 2014 at 20:01
  • In your question, the sandhi output is 'wo3 hen2 hao3' because the sentence should be parsed as wo3/hen3 hao3
    – user58955
    Sep 14, 2014 at 20:19
  • I don't think this should be closed, as my answer is different from the answer in the question about names. Anyway, it's good to have a question about the general case. Google the sample sentence I've given and you will see that there's quite a bit of discussion by linguists on this topic.
    – neubau
    Sep 15, 2014 at 2:47
  • 1
    possible duplicate of 我(也)很好 and tone sandhi
    – Claw
    Sep 16, 2014 at 2:25

2 Answers 2


The classic sentence for multiple tone 3s is “Old Li buys good wine.”

老 李 買 好 酒

In citation form they are all tone 3s, of course:

lao3 Li3 mai3 hao3 jiu3

Which ones change to tone 2? It basically depends on how fast you are speaking. If you are speaking slowly and carefully, only the tones that are within a phrase will assimilate. Here these are “lao Li” and “hao jiu”. So in careful speech it would be:

lao2 Li3 mai3 hao2 jiu3

At a faster speed, you will have two tone 3s in a row assimilate, resulting in something like 2-2-3-2-3 or 2-3-2-2-3. And at a really fast speed, all of them except the last will be affected:

lao2 Li2 mai2 hao2 jiu3

For more information see the linguistics thesis in the link below, starting at the bottom of page 6.

Vivian Lee MA thesis


In the "我很好" (wo hen hao), you would definitely go with "3-2-3". "wo3-hen2-hao3". Say "很好" first, and then add "我" in the front, without changing the tone.

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