Introduction to Mandarin Chinese Part II - More Finals, Spelling Rules, and Tones

Goal : The goal of this lesson is to understand tones in Chinese. This lesson is critical for the foundation of your Chinese language skills. Please read the information carefully.

What you should already know : To build a solid foundation of Chinese language skills, it is important that you understand the finals, initials, and syllables in the Part I Introduction. As a review of the last lesson and a refresher before this lesson, please click on this link and explore the website. This link is worth saving for later! It will help you continue to learn tones as your vocabulary expands. You can click on the words in red for more information and to hear the correct pronunciation of the word.

Explanation : In the Chinese language there are four tones. Because Chinese does not have a standardized alphabet, tones are used to distinguish two words with the same spelling. For instance 睡觉 and 水饺 have very different meanings; the first means to sleep and the second means boiled dumplings. The words are both spelled as shui jiao; it is their tones that differentiate them from each other. 睡觉 is pronounced shuì jiào, while 水饺 is pronounced shuǐ jiǎo. The goal of this lesson is to help you understand the different tones and practice them.

1.6 Nasal Finals

Read the paragraph above the video and try to pronounce the finals. Watch the video once and simply listen to the speaker. Watch the video a second time and pause the video to pronounce the sounds after the speaker. Watch the video a third and final time and practice the sounds with the speaker. 

1.7 Spelling Rules

Read the information at the link. 

1.8 Tones 

Read the information on the page. Attempt to pronounce the sounds within the reading. Practice the sounds at the bottom of the page, listening to the correct sound to make sure you are right. Practice using the tones on different words.

Go to the following link to practice identifying tones. Click on the word in purple to hear it pronounced; listen carefully and decide which tones are used. You can click on the circles at the top of the page and practice tones with additional exercises. 

1.9 Change of Tone 

Read the information on this page. It is important to understand that when words with certain tones are sequential in a sentence, the tones of some of the words can change. After you have read and understood the information on the page, continue by reading the words and then listening to the speaker. See if you can get it right on your own before listening to the speaker. 

1.10 Words with er sounds

The sound er in Chinese is different from any sound in the English language. To understand this sound, please complete the Listen and Practice section carefully. Continue with the retroflex finals. Listen to the clips and practice saying them on your own.

1.11 Combination Exercise

This page is provided to help you practice what you have learned thus far. Go through and try to say each word, then listen to the correct pronunciation. Practice until you are comfortable reading these words.