## Tones

Learning Objectives

In Mandarin Chinese, we have 4 tones, including:

First Tone is a high-level pitch, it is high and flat, like singing a long high note.

Second Tone is a rising tone, starts medium in tone, then rises to the top, like the word “Yes” in answering a question.

Third Tone is low-dipping-rising tone, starts low, dips quickly to the bottom, then rises. It is usually described as a falling-rising tone.

Fourth Tone is falling tone, starts at the top, then falls sharp and strong to the bottom, like an enthusiastic affirmation: “Yes”.

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Chinese Mandarin also has a neutral tone, which has no tone mark and is unstressed. A neutral tone always follows a major toned syllable. It is therefore said to be very light and a bit shorter than the other tones.

3 general rules about tones are as follows:

i) The tone mark should be placed over the vowel if there is only one vowel.

ii) The tone mark should be placed according to the sequence of ‘a、o、e、i、u’ if there are two or three vowels.

iii) The tone mark should be placed over the second vowel if the vowel is ‘ui’ or ’iu’.