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
  • 这儿
  • 那儿
  • 哪儿
  • 玩儿
  • 盖儿
  • 小孩儿
  • 好玩儿
  • 羊肉串儿
  • 生鱼片儿
  • 没事儿
  • 土豆儿
  • 馅儿
  • 小偷儿
  • 一半儿
  • 有点儿
  • 一点儿
  • 一会儿

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.

Common Examples of Erhua

  • 花(儿)
  • 小鸟(儿)
  • 小孩(儿)
  • 好玩(儿)
  • 羊肉串(儿)
  • 生鱼片(儿)
  • 没事(儿)
  • 土豆(儿)
  • 小偷(儿)
  • 一半(儿)
  • 有点(儿)
  • 一点(儿)

Sources and further reading