Questions tagged [tones]

Questions about the tones used in Chinese.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
37 votes
7 answers
8k views

Can native Chinese speakers distinguish tones in songs?

I already have a hard time distinguishing tones in normal speech. This gets significantly worse when I listen to Chinese songs, since the melody masks tones even further. Yes, I understand that ...
user avatar
  • 1,751
31 votes
13 answers
15k views

What is a good technique for remembering tones?

I find it a great struggle to try and remember tones for all the new vocab I learn, and aside from gradually picking up tones by listening and talking with native speakers, I can't really remember ...
user avatar
  • 4,466
17 votes
2 answers
2k views

How do non-native speakers get to perceive tones in Chinese?

Recently I've been teaching an English-speaking friend some basics about Chinese, but inevitably he got stuck with the tones. I've demonstrated to him the 4 tones with audio files, yet it seems hard ...
user avatar
  • 508
14 votes
4 answers
382 views

Character Pronunciation Clues

Is there any way to know what a character's pronunciation or tone is, based on the strokes or radicals that make up the characters?
user avatar
  • 3,305
13 votes
3 answers
4k views

Did ancient Chinese have tones (声调)?

This question has puzzled me since I have no training in ancient Chinese and ancient phonetics. What is puzzling me are the following facts: The tones in different regions are quite different. If ...
user avatar
  • 1,258
13 votes
7 answers
949 views

Do acronyms borrowed from English use neutral tone (aka tone 0 or tone 5) for all syllables?

I was just reading a Q&A here about Chinese words for DVD and the discussion also included other acronyms from English. It struck me that nobody wrote the pinyin for any of the terms which made ...
user avatar
  • 3,797
12 votes
1 answer
647 views

How does tone sandhi apply in people's names? [duplicate]

Like the title says, the question is simple: what's the proper way to handle tone sandhi in names? Is there something like "pronounce the family name as-is, apply tone sandhi to given name"? Or is ...
user avatar
11 votes
3 answers
547 views

When do the tones change?

Sometimes, in certain combinations of tones or words, the tones change. Where can I find a complete list of all tone changes that occur in Mandarin?
user avatar
  • 2,025
11 votes
2 answers
1k views

我(也)很好 and tone sandhi

What are the (resultant) tones in those sentences, where all the words in isolation have 3rd tone? 我很好。 我也很好。 Reading tone shandhi rules on Wikipedia, there is no explanation about tree or four ...
user avatar
  • 2,553
11 votes
2 answers
3k views

Pronunciation of 一 in 一个

When I first learnt the numbers, I learnt 一 with the first tone yi1. But now, during a Memrise lesson, they teach me that 一个 should be pronounced yi2 ge4 or yi2 ge5. Is this correct and, if so, is ...
user avatar
10 votes
3 answers
456 views

words where it is important to distinguish between the neutral tone and the citation tone

I'm working through the HSK vocab lists, and sometimes I find it hard to remember if a character should be pronounced with the neutral tone or with the citation tone. It would help if I knew when it'...
user avatar
10 votes
4 answers
3k views

Adding tone marks to characters

I'm looking for a way of adding tone marks above characters. It's fairly easy to add Pinyin with tone marks, but I want to add only tone marks. I want to use this as a teaching tool, because even ...
user avatar
  • 2,930
10 votes
7 answers
5k views

What software can correct pronunciation?

What software is available which can record my voice and warn me about problems with my pronunciation and tones?
user avatar
  • 2,025
9 votes
3 answers
527 views

What's the pronunciation of 不在乎

All the dictionaries I've checked say bu4 zai4 hu5 but should it actually be bu2 zai4 hu5 I get different answers searching for 不对, some dictionaries say bu4dui4 others bu2dui4, but as far as ...
user avatar
9 votes
4 answers
6k views

How to convert from hanyu pinyin to IPA?

Where can I find a table showing the relation between Hanyu pinyin spelling and IPA for all phonemes in Mandarin?
user avatar
  • 2,025
9 votes
1 answer
666 views

Is there a tone sandhi rule that "4 3" changes to "4 0"?

This is a followup to my earlier question about the tones in the word "豆腐": On their own "豆" and "腐" have the tones 4 and 3: dòu, fǔ As a two-syllable / two-character word, "豆腐" has tone 4 but "fu" ...
user avatar
  • 3,797
8 votes
5 answers
497 views

Is "一“ in 一线城市 first or second tone?

Quick question: Is "一“ in 一线城市 first or second tone? If it is first tone, is this because it is being used as a number? Cheers, Stephen
user avatar
  • 4,527
8 votes
2 answers
469 views

Neutral tone and erhua (儿化) working as a word distinguisher

I know there are some words in which the use of neutral tone distinguish them the word from their non neutral equivalent, like: 东西 - dong1xi1 - from east to west 东西 - dong1xi - thing 虾子 - xia1zi3 - ...
user avatar
8 votes
3 answers
1k views

What are the rules of writing a 对联 (chinese couplet)?

I have looked at the Wikipedia article "Couplet (Chinese Poetry)", but I think it poses more questions than answers. So a 对联 (duì lián) is a "Chinese couplet": it is composed of ...
user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
2k views

Which is the most frequently used tone?

The most difficult for me in learning Chinese is memorizing the correct tone. I tried to find on web what the most frequently used tones are, but it seems to be hard to find. I suppose if one tone ...
user avatar
  • 500
7 votes
1 answer
2k views

Cantonese sandhi

In Mandarin, there is limited tone sandhi, mainly about third tones and the tone variations of yi1 (one) and bù (not). By contrast, Min has sandhi rules for all tones, as illustrated by this diagram. ...
user avatar
  • 2,250
7 votes
2 answers
271 views

How to hear tones in speech better

Today I mistook 化学 for 滑雪. That's it. How can I train my ears to better hear tones when people speak Chinese? Sometimes, the tones aren't pronounced to a level where I can physically hear them/have ...
user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
317 views

Tone sandhi before a toneless final syllable

In the name Kongzi, 孔子, it seems to me that people often pronounce Kong with third tone (low-falling form) and zi with no tone, like a lot of final syllables. Officially both syllables are third tone....
user avatar
7 votes
4 answers
146 views

What tone is 杆 in 扶杆?

According to pleco 杆 in the third tone means shaft or arm, while in the first tone it means pole or staff. 扶杆 is in one of our exercises. It is not contained in any of the pleco dictionaries I own (...
user avatar
  • 2,874
7 votes
1 answer
317 views

Why the change in tones of the words in some phrases?

I am a native Cantonese speaker. I found that we have to change the tones of some words, when used in particular phrases. But I don't know why. It seems that it doesn't follow any "rules of changing ...
user avatar
6 votes
7 answers
4k views

Accidentally Saying Chinese Swear Words

So I saw a video on youtube about a guys experience in china. He said that people can often accidentally say swear words if they say the tones wrong. Like the word "ma" It can heard as mother but 'ma'...
user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
321 views

Bigrams ending in third tone where first syllable is second tone vs. third tone

This is regarding tone sandhi for consecutive third tones. I notice CC-CEDICT has over 200 bigrams with tone pair 3-3 where there also exists a separate bigram 2-3. One such example is: 白果 bai2 ...
user avatar
  • 233
6 votes
2 answers
17k views

tones when singing a chinese song? [duplicate]

if tones are so important in chinese as to even distinguish shades of meaning, how can a chinese sing a song? in music every syllable has its own note/tone, so when we sing a song, we must disregard ...
user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
300 views

Does tone sandhi apply to 成语

In my previous question I found the following about tone sandhi and yī 'one': yī on its own or not followed by other tones yī → yí when followed by a fourth tone yī → yì when followed by ...
user avatar
  • 9,953
6 votes
2 answers
268 views

What happens with tone sandhi with consecutive third tones, e.g. wo3 hen3 hao3?

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 ...
user avatar
  • 2,250
6 votes
1 answer
483 views

Zhuyin IME and tone 0/5 syllables

I'm teaching myself bopomofo/zhuyin keyboard while I'm in Taiwan. My Chinese level is raw beginner too. I just came across the word for tofu: Hanzi: 豆腐 Pinyin: dòufu Zhuyin: ㄉㄡˋㄈㄨ· (or ㄉㄡˋㄈㄨ˙) We ...
user avatar
  • 3,797
6 votes
1 answer
145 views

Why is 相 pronounced with a fourth tone in some cases?

I notice that 相 is pronounced xiang1 in most cases, but xiang4 in a few, mostly less-common words and phrases. The most commonly-used examples seem to be 照相 zhàoxiàng 'photo'; 照相机 zhàoxiàngjī 'camera';...
user avatar
  • 63
6 votes
3 answers
236 views

Does pronunciation of a vowel change with tones?

As it is extremely hard to find a good online summary of all Pinyin pronunciation rules, I am listening the sounds in a Pinyin chart: https://chinese.yabla.com/chinese-pinyin-chart.php . I have read ...
user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
597 views

Strategies to discourage uptalk in Chinese language learners?

In my beginning Chinese class, many students consistently pronounce tones incorrectly when answering questions aloud. I realize this is expected of beginners, but I've noticed that it happens most ...
user avatar
  • 163
6 votes
1 answer
398 views

What difference(s) does it make to use the citation tone instead of the neutral tone, for the tail character in these words?

Here’s my list: 队伍, 成分, 身分, 才力, 呼噜, 亮堂, 好处, 种子, 妥当, 爽快, 痛快, 记性, 出息, 佩服, 分析, 哈欠, 寒毛, 活泼, 鼻涕, 道理, 滑稽, 考究, 讲究, 打算, 正经, 裁缝, 得罪, 意识 (and also意识 形态), 熟识, 见识, 体谅, 兴趣, [东/西/南/前/后/那/上/下/头/里/外/左/右]边, 知道, 父亲 and ...
user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
2k views

Generalize consecutive third tones change rule

井井有条​ (to be neat and tidy) we have a sequence of the third tones. Why is it pronounced as jing2 jing2 you3 tiao2 and not jing2 jing3 you3 tiao2 After all, the first half goes together, and the ...
user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
377 views

Authoritative source for 一 changing to 4th tone before 1st, 2nd or 3rd

In another users answer https://chinese.stackexchange.com/a/2046/38 they said: 一 is pronounced in the first tone when it stands alone. It is pronounced in the fourth tone when it precedes a first,...
user avatar
  • 9,953
5 votes
5 answers
449 views

In which pitches do I pronounce several first tones in a sequence?

For a while now I've been noticing and trying to figure out how to correctly pronounce several first tone characters in a row. Examples: 機車 jīchē 公車 gōngchē The speech synthesis of Quizlet ...
user avatar
5 votes
4 answers
2k views

Is the number 4 really considered unlucky because it sounds similar to the word for "death"?

From what I've Googled so far, there are lots of claims that the number 4 is considered unlucky in Chinese. 四 is understandably considered in unlucky in Japanese and Korean because it sounds identical ...
user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
273 views

How can we translate the term "tone sequence"?

I would like a translation in putonghua for “tone contour” as in “the tone contour of 普通话 is 314” I found two terms: 声调轮廓 from CC-CEDICT 音调曲线 from ABC dictionary Are either (or both?) of these what ...
user avatar
5 votes
6 answers
1k views

What is the best way to learn tones?

I still have difficulty to identify tones when I listen to Chinese. Moreover I have difficulty in saying second tone. Could you guys advice me some way to improve my tone?
user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
434 views

Tone of 竟 and 境 in Mandarin and Cantonese

竟 and 境 are both read ging2 in Cantonese, which usually corresponds to a third tone syllable in Mandarin (as is the case for 警, which is ging2 in Cantonese and jing3 in Mandarin). However, both of ...
user avatar
  • 1,911
5 votes
3 answers
198 views

How are consecutive neutral tones pronounced? What are the pitch levels?

I understand how neutral tones are supposed to sound following regular-numbered tones Here is a helpful Wikipedia chart illustrating how the preceding tone impacts the neutral tone But what about ...
user avatar
5 votes
4 answers
682 views

How modern Chinese singing works if Chinese has tones

Since Chinese is a tonal language, I'm wondering how this affects Chinese singing. Specifically wondering about the modern Chinese version of modern American pop music, which has relatively simple ...
user avatar
  • 581
5 votes
1 answer
2k views

Are tones sometimes glossed over?

To elaborate, although ni3 hao3 has a double third tone, when I hear native speakers say it, it's said so quickly that they definitely are not using that tone, nor is there feasibly time to use the ...
user avatar
5 votes
4 answers
1k views

Where can I find a full list of combinations of sounds and tones used in Chinese?

I heard that there are roughly 400 sounds in Mandarin plus four tones. Are all combinations of those used in Chinese vocabulary, making it 1600 possibilities per single-sound word? If not, how many ...
user avatar
  • 495
5 votes
2 answers
2k views

Which dialect of Chinese has the fewest tones?

Standard Cantonese has six tones, Minnan, spoken primarily in Taiwan and Fujian, has five to seven; and so on down to Mandarin, based on the Beijing dialect, which has only four. (I don't count ...
user avatar
  • 4,315
5 votes
2 answers
154 views

How to pronounce 调 in 同调代数?

Certainly 同调代数 means the mathematical subject of homological algebra. But different sources disagree as to whether the first two characters in that sense of the term are pronounced tóngtiáo or ...
user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
440 views

non-standard tone pronunciation

After carefully listening to the tapes of Assimil "Chinese with ease", I noticed that the pronunciation by the native speakers of a few characters differs from the standard tones: 多 pronounced with a ...
user avatar
  • 83
5 votes
3 answers
894 views

How do I pronounce romanised Chinese names which lack tone marks?

In the West, Chinese names almost never seem to be written using pinyin tone marks or numbers. For example, the current president's name will simply be written as Xi Jinping. I had to Google to ...
user avatar
  • 297