Tones

Tones are really the most difficult aspect of Chinese at the outset.  For all practical purposes, there are 5 tones in Mandarin.  There are four inflected tones and one neutral one.  Each word or phrase must be spoken at the right pitch or the meaning is changed and probably will be misunderstood.  An easy way of thinking of it is as musical notes (like putting a little "soul" in a song).

Unfortunately, * programming constraintsdo not allow the use of special characters with tone marks the standardized romanization system utilizes in HTML documents .  So the tone marks used here are an adaptation of that system

The table below illustrates how Mandarin tones are marked throughout this website. 

Level

High Level (1)*

Rising (2)

Dipping (3)

Falling (4)

Neutral

Standard
Pinyin
tone
Website
Symbols
-tone-tone/~tone~\tone\tone

*Many texts use the terms 1st tone, 2nd tone, etc.  The numbers provided correspond to these references.


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