Tag Archive | Chinese tones

Moving from Tones to PinYin


You’ve been introduced to the four tones, but it will be up to you to practice as much as possible so you can master these tones!  Of course, you can expect to sound pretty strange at first as you are learning to speak them and will probably make many mistakes as you begin.  But the important point is to keep going!

As you continue on your journey to learn the language, you’ll find that soon the tones will become like second nature.  As you learn new characters, words, and phrases, you’ll find you always need to concentrate on the tones, but once memorized and practiced, you be surprised at how easily they come!  (Eventually, the tone–and the word it goes with–becomes ingrained in your mind so much so that it’s difficult to separate the two).

You’ve uncovered the basics of tones and are now up to challenge of beginning to learn PinYin which are the spoken sounds of the language.  Some like to think of it as the Chinese alphabet or phonetics, but it’s not exactly either.

See the next post to find out more about PinYin…

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.