The online language laboratory

Mandarin Chinese

We've already introduced Tones 1-4 (see Single Vowel Sounds). .
Tone 5 - the neutral tone - is short and unstressed. .
In writing, it's either unmarked or marked 5:
ge1 ge5 (older brother), ming2 zi5 (name), xie4 xie5 (thanks)
Here are some examples of two-syllable (= two-tone) words:
Tones Example
pian1 pian1 (unexpected)
ying1 guo2 (England)
ying1 yu3 (English)
jing1 ju4 (Beijing opera)
ge1 ge5 (older brother)
ming2 tian1 (tomorrow)
ru2 he2 (how?)
bai2 lian3 (painted white face in opera)
yi2 yang4 (same)

Bei3 jing1 (Beijing)
yan3 ran2 (solemn)
nai3 er3 (like this)
zhao3 dao4 (find)
hou4 tian1 (day after tomorrow)
wei4 lai2 (the future)
zui4 hao3 (advisable)
bu4 lun4 (no matter)
Notes 3 + 3 is spoken as 2 + 3.
4 + 4 is spoken as 2 + 4 if the first syllable is "bu" ("no" or "not").

Examples of tones in whole sentences:
Thanks - Don't mention it.
Sorry! - That's OK.

How do you do? - Pleased to meet you.



What's your name? - My name's Song Chunxia.

What's yours? - Mine's Wang Kui


Our warmest thanks go to ...

Speaker Geographical origin Date of recording Approx age

Wang Kui
(Mrs) Song Chunxia

Mianyang, Sichuan
Mianyang, Sichuan

April 13th, 2002
April 13th, 2002



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Xie4 xie5 - Bu2 ke4 qi5. Dui4 bu4 qi3 - Mei2 guan1 xi5. Ni3 hao3
- Hen3 gao1 xing4 yu4 jian4 ni3.
Ni3 jiao4 shen2 me5 ming2 zi5?
- Wo3 jiao4...