Also known as: erization, 儿化 (érhuà) and 儿化音 (érhuàyīn).

"Erhua" refers to the addition of a final "-r" sound to a syllable in Mandarin. It is especially common in the Beijing dialect, but is also a feature of standard Chinese as well.

A Few Rules about Erhua

Erhua can be confusing to beginners because it's slightly more complicated than simply adding an "-r" sound to the end of a syllable.

  1. The character 儿 (ér) can be a syllable, as in the two-syllable word 儿子 (érzi), but erhua is not a syllable; it is pronounced as part of the syllable that it attaches to
  2. When you add erhua to the end of a syllable ending in -n or -ng, you don't pronounce the -n or -ng; you pronounce the final -r sound instead
  3. The vowel sound of a syllable may change slightly with the addition of the erhua (e.g. "shi + -r" may sound kind of like "shar")
  4. Erhua can be written as 儿, but it doesn't need to be written to be pronounced (e.g. a southerner will generally pronounce 花 as "huā", but a Beijinger will pronounce it as "huār")

Common Examples of Erhua

花儿 小鸟儿 盖儿 小孩儿 好玩儿 鞋带儿 牙签儿 破烂儿 羊肉串儿 生鱼片儿 没事儿 豆腐脑儿 小黑点儿 让座儿 边儿 土豆儿 小米儿 馅儿 小偷儿 一半儿 圈儿 转弯儿 没味儿 画儿 相片儿 有点儿 一点儿 小摊儿 一会儿 起名儿

Writing Erhua

For a few select words, it is customary to write out the erhua using the character 儿:


Optional Erhua

For many other words, writing the 儿 is optional. Northerners will likely pronounce the following words, no matter whether it is written with or without the 儿.

Sources and further reading