Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Starting Primary One #19 - HYPY 4 Tones

Following my previous introduction post on HanYuPinYin post, in the next couple of posts I shall share with you more detailed stuffs on HYPY.  I shall start with the 4 tones 声调 in HYPY.

Photo Credit

The 4 tone marks 声调标记 and different tones sound 声调
First tone 阴 [ — ] is high and level and is near the top of normal voice range.
eg; On the top of your comfortable voice and say, “ah….”

Second tone 阳 [ / ] starts around the middle of your voice range and rises straight toward the level of the first tone.
eg; To show your unbelievable surprise and say, “What?”

Third Tone 上 [ V ] begins near the bottom of your comfortable voice range, proceeds to reach the bottom, then turns upward to end above the middle.
eg; Waiting for an answer and say, “Well?”

Fourth Tone 去 [ \ ] begins at the top of your comfortable range (same as the First Tone), then drop quickly to the bottom.
eg; Telling somebody off and say, “No!”

The Neutral Tone (shown by the absence of a tone mark) is unstressed and takes a feeble tone in the middle of your voice range.
eg; Compare your intonation with the second part of “many”.

*** Ok, are you ready to get into more complicated rules? ***

Half Third Tone
This is a variant of the Full Third Tone but instead of turning upward to reach the higher tone, it stops at the low point (refer to the illustration above).  Although the word is a Full Third Tone word but in spontaneous speech the third tone is rarely pronounced in full.  The tone mark for the Half Third Tone remains the same as Full Third Tone [ V ].

You will know how to pronounce the Half Third Tone in the next rule.

Third Tone + Non Third Tone Combination
When a Third Tone word is followed by any tone other than the Third Tone word then that word will change to a Half Third Tone. 

For easy understanding, think about the tonal contour of the full third tone, and pronounce 好 (good; hǎo).  Now say the four words below, paying special attention to how you pronounce 好 in these words.

好吃 (3rd + 1st) - (hǎochī; tasty)
好人 (3rd + 2nd) - (hǎorén; nice person)
好看 (3rd + 4th) - (hǎokàn; good looking)
好吧 (3rd + neutral) - (hǎoba; all right)

Third Tone + Third Tone Combination
If a Third Tone word is follow by another Third Tone word, the first Third Tone word becomes Second Tone.   

老虎 (lǎohǔ; tiger)
想起 (xiǎngqǐ, remember)
演讲 (yǎnjiǎng, lecture)

Phrase consisting of a few Third Tone words
When this happens, the second word should be pronounce as either Half Third Tone or Second Tone.  

小老虎(xiǎo lǎohǔ; small tiger) - as Second Tone
展览馆(zhǎnlǎn guǎn; exhibition centre (or hall)) - as Half Third Tone

Tone changes for 不 (No)
不 bù is pronounced as Fourth Tone but when it is preceded by another Fourth Tone word they are pronounced as Second Tone. 

when precedes a First, Second & Third Tone word
不吃 (bùchī; not eat)
不新 (bù xīn; not new)

when precedes a Fourth Tone word
不对 (búduì; not correct)
不谢 (bú xiè; Don’t mention it)

Tone changes for 一 (One)
一 yī is pronounced as First Tone as in 一 yī、 二 èr、 sān but it is pronounced as a Fourth Tone word when it is preceded by a First, Second or Third Tone word and as a Second Tone when the word is preceded  by a Fourth Tone word

when precedes a First, Second & Third Tone word
一天 (yìtiān; a day)
一起 (yìqǐ; together)

when precedes a Fourth Tone word
一半 (yíbàn; half)
一块 (yíkuài; one dollar)

Useful Tip
Last but not least, if you can't remember the correct tone sounds, simply just remember these words 三十九歲 (sānshíjiǔsuì; 39 years of age), as you read aloud each word, you are pronouncing the 4 tone sounds correctly.

*** *** ***

That's all for today!  Please do not worry too much if the above seems too over whelming for you.  It will be easier once you get the gist of it as you practice pronouncing the pinyin and speaking Mandarin.

Remember to stay tuned for more HYPY sharing in the following weeks!

~ ~ ~

I am sharing DinoBoy's Primary One experiences in this series.  I hope it will serve as a useful guide to parents when its their time to get their child ready for the new journey and have an idea how Parent Volunteer works.

Click the button below and you will be able to see all my posts on this topic or grab the badge if you are sharing your thoughts about this topic.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


  1. Very good information.

    I think I might have to hear it done though.



    P.S. Visiting from UBC