Now that we've spent a few days practicing the first two tones it's time we intercede before you give everyone the impression mandarin is spoken in falsetto. Like other languages, mandarin has its dark side too. But before we plummet to the depths for good with our podcast on the fourth tone, we'll take an exploratory jaunt there first. The third tone is just like snorkeling: a brief trip down and then right back up.

As an aside, while we mentioned we wouldn't get into detail on tone sandhi in the podcast, there is a grammar mutiny brewing here in the office so we feel obliged to make at least quick mention of it. The tricky thing about the third tone is that the pronunciation changes depending on context. Specifically, characters in the third tone are usually pronounced in the second tone when they precede other third tone characters. This actually makes it easier to speak and keeps listeners from getting seasick, but is difficult to remember all the time. Our advice is to focus on getting "hello" down properly and using it as a model for the pitch changes in other words and phrases. As a beginning student, you should be aware of this, but don't pull your hair out over it.
 said on
January 2, 2009
good job guys!

maybe a link to the following Podcast is a good idea, eg. a link to the fourth tone on this page


 said on
March 13, 2010
I try to associate the tones to English "tones". This is what I came up with and it helps me :) It's a phone conversation at 2am between 2 people (Q and A;; A says all the "tone" words):

Q: I just bought a Rolls Royce!

A: whaaaat (tone 1)

Q: You have to see it. Come on over!

A: when? (tone 2)

J: Right away!

R: now?!?! (tone 3), but it's 2 am!

J: Hurry up!

R: no (tone 4)

So, when I don't remember the Chinese tone, I quickly run through my: whaaat1, when2, now3 and no4

Does anyone have interesting memory aids like this? :)



 said on
May 7, 2011
hey! it's a good idea yours, rsalc1 !!! (may I pronounce your name in the first tone?)
 said on
October 17, 2019
Haha! You guys are great. Thank you very much for creating this