Except for the pronunciation of each alphabet, tone is another difference between Chinese and English. Many foreigners complain that they are so hard to master. Today, I will explain you what Chinese tones are and how to distinguish them.
To learn Chinese, pinyin is an essential part that you have to master. Pinyin consists of two or more alphabets, and we can usually see a pinyin has more than one pronunciation and meaning. If you can’t distinguish them, you might make a fool of yourself.
1. Types of Chinese Tones
Chinese includes four tones: 1st tone, 2nd tone, 3rd tone and 4th tone. Each tone has a distinctive pitch contour which can be graphed using the Chinese 5-level system.
2. Chinese Four Tones
1). First Tone
The first tone is high and level. To articulate this tone correctly, you need to keep your voice even when the whole syllable across. It is represented by a straight horizontal line above a letter in pinyin. For example:
2). Second Tone
The second rises moderately. In English we sometimes associate this rise in pitch with a question. The second tone is represented by a rising diagonal line above a letter in pinyin. For example:
3). Third Tone
The third tone falls at first and then rises again. When pronounced clearly, its tonal “dipping” is very distinctive. It is represented by a curved “dipping” line above a letter in pinyin. For example:
4). Fourth Tone
The fourth tone starts out high but drops sharply to the bottom of the tonal range. It is represented by a dropping diagonal line above a letter in pinyin. For example:
Tones below are for your practice:
1. bō bó bō bò
2. fān fán fǎn fàn
3. shēnɡ shénɡ shěnɡ shènɡ
4. piān pián piǎn piàn
5. fānɡ fánɡ fǎnɡ fànɡ