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Lesson Transcript

Intro

Hi everybody! Yinru here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Chinese questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is: What are the different tones in Chinese?
Explanation
Many Chinese learners find the tones quite difficult, because the intonation in Chinese is very special and very different from most other languages.
There are four stressed tones in Chinese. Let’s run through them now.
“First tone” 一声 yī shēng is high and steady. ā
“Second tone” 二声 èr shēng starts with a little lower pitch and goes up. á
“Third tone” 三声 sān shēng is even lower. It first dips down, then rises. ǎ
“Fourth tone” 四声 sì shēng starts high then falls sharply. à
In addition to the above four tones, there’s a special one called “neutral tone” 轻声 qīngshēng. It doesn’t come with any marks on top. To make the neutral tone, try to say it as in the first tone, except that you say it in a more light and short way, like a.
It’s not only important but crucial to master the different tones in Chinese. There are so many words that come with the same pinyin spelling. If you don’t get the tones right, it’s very likely that your mispronounced tones will lead to misunderstandings or even embarrassment.
A quick example: the pinyin and tone for 汉语 hànyǔ is with a fourth falling tone on 汉 hàn. 汉语 hànyǔ. The pinyin and tone for 韩语 hányǔ has a second rising tone on 韩 hán. 韩语 hányǔ. They sound quite close, right? But 汉语 is “Chinese language,” and 韩语 is actually “Korean language.” Don’t get them mixed up and be very careful with the tones!

Outro

How was it? Pretty interesting, right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below, and I’ll try to answer them!
我们今天就到这里。wǒmen jīntiān jiù dào zhèli. (That’s all for today.) 下期再见吧!xiàqī zàijiàn ba! I’ll see you in the next episode!

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ChineseClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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What Chinese learning question do you have?

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 04:46 AM
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你好 robert groulx,


谢谢 for posting and studying with us. If you have any questions, please let us know.😄


Kind regards,

雷文特 (Levente)

Team ChineseClass101.com

robert groulx
Tuesday at 12:33 AM
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thank you or the lesson transcript


“First tone” 一声 yī shēng is high and steady. ā

“Second tone” 二声 èr shēng starts with a little lower pitch and goes up. á

“Third tone” 三声 sān shēng is even lower. It first dips down, then rises. ǎ


robert

ChineseClass101.com
Wednesday at 03:46 PM
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Hello Daniel,


Thank you for your suggestions.


The two 'han 語' in the video are pronounced differently because the two 'han' are different, have different meanings and different pronunciations (tones).


Thank you for learning with us, let us know if you have any questions.


Ngai Lam

Team ChineseClass101.com

Daniel
Sunday at 10:32 AM
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I see that the han 語 was pronounced differently in the two words.

What do you call this process? I think it's called "forward assimilation" in phonetics. Can you speak more about this? More into the phonology, maybe for an "advanced lesson"?

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Saturday at 04:14 AM
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Hi Norbert


Thanks for sharing your insight. If you have any questions, just let us know.


Amy

Team ChineseClass101.com

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Saturday at 03:57 AM
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Hi Beck


The second tone ( 二声 èr shēng ) is just like how this lesson explained: ' starts with a little lower pitch and goes up.'

In other words, if it's easier to understand, 二声 is a rising tone, like intonation when you say 'What?'


Thanks for learning with us.


Amy

Team ChineseClass101.com

Norbert
Friday at 05:56 AM
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Fourth tone 四声sì shēng starts high and goes down harshly like scolding.

Second tone” 二声 èr shēng starts with a little lower pitch and goes up. ní in ní hǎo

Beck Larsen
Thursday at 11:21 PM
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For the second tone ( 二声 èr shēng ). The words say ” 二声 èr shēng starts with a little lower pitch and goes up. á" but it start "hi and goes down". Right?