How To Pronounce Tones In Mandarin

Connect & Share Mandarintern Language School

Learning tones. What’s the secret?

For many learners of Chinese, the very idea of ‘tones’ can be enough to scare them away. If you’re thinking, are Chinese tones difficult? You’re not alone. Indeed, many Chinese learners become paralysed with a toneaphobia, a phobia that, if not treated at the beginning of their Chinese language learning journey, becomes extremely difficult to cure. But…we’re here to tell you…tones are nothing to worry about! Like anything new, they take a while getting used. But you’ll soon discover that once you embrace them, not only are tones nothing to worry about, they’re actually pretty easy.

So here’s how it is: Chinese has 4 tones. Ok, technically 5 if you count the ‘5th’ tone which, well, is more a non-tone than a tone, but that just confuses things. So, 4 tones, referred to as – you guessed it – first tone, second tone, third tone, fourth tone.

And for the sake of consistency, we’ll use the typical ‘pinyin’ example that all Chinese learners use of ‘ma’. So..

First tone: mā (high pitch, doesn’t change)

Second tone: má (from middle pitch to high pitch)

Third tone: mǎ (from middle pitch to low pitch to high pitch)

Fourth tone: mà (from middle pitch to low pitch)

The thing is, if you can master these four tones, these four pieces of information, well actually you’ve just about got it. All Mandarin Chinese is constructed from these very same four tones. And that’s really all there is to it. So, let’s deconstruct the myth that tones are difficult. Oh, and if you’re really serious about wanting to sound like a native speaker, then China‘s a pretty good place to practice.

So, are Chinese tones difficult? Tell your neighbours, tell your friends, tell your family…tones are nothing to worry about it. Trust us, we’ve done it! Let’s cure toneaphobia together #toneaphobia #tonesareasy #learnchinese #chinese #studymandarin


Connect & Share Mandarintern Language School