Difference between revisions of "Tone change rules"

Line 34: Line 34:
<div class="liju">
<div class="liju">
* <em>一</em>二三四五
* <em>一</em> 二 三 四 五<span class="pinyin"><em>yī</em> èr sān sì wǔ</span> <span class="trans">one two three four five</span>
* 0.<em>1</em>2
* 0.<em>1</em>2<span class="pinyin">líng diǎn <em>yī</em> èr</span> <span class="trans">0.12</span>
* 第<em>一</em>个
* 第 <em>一</em> 个<span class="pinyin">dì <em>yī</em> ge</span> <span class="trans">the first one</span>
* 一千一百<em>一</em>十<em>一</em>
* 一 千 一 百 <em>一</em>十<em>一</em><span class="pinyin">yī qiān yī bǎi <em>yī</em>shí<em>yī</em></span> <span class="trans">one thousand one hundred and eleven</span>
* 20<em>11</em>年
* 20<em>11</em> 年<span class="pinyin">èr líng <em>yī</em> <em>yī</em> nián</span> <span class="trans">2011</span>
* <em>一</em>楼
* <em>一</em> 楼<span class="pinyin"><em>yī</em> lóu</span> <span class="trans">ground floor</span>
* 二零<em>一</em>房间
* 二 零 <em>一</em> 房间<span class="pinyin">èr líng <em>yī</em> fángjiān</span> <span class="trans">room 201</span>
* <em>一</em>五<em>一</em>十
* <em>一</em>五<em>一</em>十<span class="pinyin">yīwǔyīshí</span> <span class="trans">in full detail [idiom]</span>
* 周<em>一</em> 到 周五
* 周<em>一</em> 到 周五<span class="pinyin">Zhōu<em>yī</em> dào Zhōuwǔ</span> <span class="trans">from Monday to Friday</span>
* 三月<em>一</em>号
* 三月 <em>一</em> 号<span class="pinyin">Sānyuè <em>yī</em>hào</span> <span class="trans">March 1st</span>

Revision as of 02:27, 26 March 2015

Also known as: tone sandhi and 变调规则 (biàndiào guīzé).

There are certain circumstances under which a Chinese word or character's normal tone will regularly change to a specific different tone. These tone changes (also called tone sandhi) must be learned in order to pronounce Chinese correctly.

There are three main tone change rules that every learner needs to know. These rules are not normally reflected in the tone marks of pinyin; you just have to know them.

Tone Changes for 不 (bù)

When followed by a 4th tone, 不 (bù) changes to 2nd tone (bú).





Tone Changes for 一 (yī)

When followed by a 4th tone, ⼀ (yī) changes to 4th tone (yì).
When followed by any other tone, ⼀ (yī) changes to 2nd tone (yí).




  • 二 三 四 五 èr sān sì wǔ one two three four five
  • 0.12líng diǎn èr 0.12
  • ge the first one
  • 一 千 一 百 yī qiān yī bǎi shí one thousand one hundred and eleven
  • 2011èr líng nián 2011
  • lóu ground floor
  • 二 零 房间èr líng fángjiān room 201
  • yīwǔyīshí in full detail [idiom]
  • 到 周五Zhōu dào Zhōuwǔ from Monday to Friday
  • 三月 Sānyuè hào March 1st

Tone Changes for Multiple Third Tones

When a 3rd tone (e.g. “yě”) is followed by another 3rd tone in a group, the first 3rd tone changes to a 2nd tone (e.g. “yé”).




special groupings

Why Tone Changes Are Not Written

Normally the tone changes above are not written in the pinyin; you are supposed to just know the rule and apply it if you say the word(s) aloud. The reason for this is that in many cases if the tone change is written, you will be confused as to what the “normal” tone of a character is actually supposed to be. For example, you might wonder, “is this a third tone written as a second tone because it’s followed by a third tone, or is this character always a second tone?” Always writing the original tones solves this problem. But it also means that you really need to know your tone change rules. Learn them well!

Sources and further reading