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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 comes after
  2. When you add erhua to the end of a syllable ending in -n or -ng, you don't pronounce the -n or -ng (even though you still write it); 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

  • zhèr here
  • r there
  • r where
  • wánr to play
  • 好玩hǎowánr fun
  • 小孩xiǎoháir child
  • 女孩nǚháir girl
  • 男孩nánháir boy
  • huār flower
  • 一点yīdiǎnr a little as quantifier
  • 有点yǒudiǎnr a little bit as an adverb
  • 一会yīhuǐr, yīhuìr a while; after a while
  • 没事méishìr it's OK; not a problem.
  • 一半yībànr half
  • 小鸟xiǎo niǎor little bird
  • 土豆tǔdòur potato
  • 羊肉串yángròuchuànr mutton skewers
  • 生鱼片shēngyú piānr sashimi
  • xiànr stuffing

Writing Erhua

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

  • zhèr here
  • r there
  • r where

Optional Erhua

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

  • (儿)huār flower
  • 小鸟(儿)xiǎoniǎor little bird
  • 小孩(儿)xiǎoháir child
  • 好玩(儿)hǎowánr interesting;fun
  • 羊肉串(儿)yángròuchuànr mutton skewers
  • 生鱼片(儿)shēngyú piānr sashimi
  • 没事(儿)méishìr That's ok.
  • 土豆(儿)tǔdòur potato
  • 小偷(儿)xiǎotōur thief
  • 一半(儿)yībànr half
  • 有点(儿)yǒudiǎnr a little bit as an adverb
  • 一点(儿)yīdiǎnr a little as a quantifier

Sources and further reading