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  5. What are the tones?


What are the tones?

I read the desc. i simply don't get it. What are they? Why should be learn them?

January 26, 2018



In many European languages you can change a sentence from a statement to a question if you go up with the tone at the end of the sentence. In Chinese you have tones for nearly every syllable in every word in every sentence. You should learn them in order to understand and express differences in meaning. I.e. when you want to buy or to sell an item, in both cases in Chinese you can use the verb "mai", but with 3rd tone if you want to buy and with fourth tone if you want to sell.


Am also a beginner but it is used to differentiate homonyms.

For example, there are many Chinese characters that sound "Ma"

In a conversation, one can tell which Ma the other person is talking about by hearing "Ma" with a tone.

In other words, if you are terrible with tones, your speaking will lead to lots of misunderstanding by others and when they speak to you, you may also think one thing when they mean another.


Here's a short guide to the tones and Chinese pronounciation, with sample audios:



Please also read this thread.


Tones are an integral part of the Chinese language. If your tones are wrong no one will understand what you’re saying because a different tone means a completely different word. So learning tones is essentially the same as learning the words because they are a part of the word.

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