Four Tones of Chinese

There’s just no underestimating the importance of the tones as you are speaking the Chinese language.  Of course, the trick is to either

  • think of them as though you are singing OR
  • associate the tones with sounds you already know in English.

So, here’s my attempt at making this as easy as possible.

  • 1st TONE is pretty annoying and sounds like when you say “Aaahhhhhhhhhh” at the doctor’s or dentist’s office.
  • 2nd TONE is like asking a question because your voice rises at the end–like asking, “Huh?”
  • 3rd TONE is a little complex because it falls & rises, but is close to the sound of exasperation or frustration, “Oh!” or “No!”
  • 4th TONE is like a sigh of relief because your voice falls slowly over time.

To listen to the four tones briefly, click here.

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