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Lesson 2 An Introduction to the Tones

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Chinese is a 'tonal language' - but what does that mean? In this lesson, listen as Yangyang explains how tones work in Chinese and why they're so important to mastering the language.
Chinese is a 'tonal language' - but what does that mean? In this lesson, listen as Yangyang explains how tones work in Chinese and why they're so important to mastering the language.

Comments (29)

Am I missing something? Why is the Anki sentences deck so long for this lesson?
Denny Robert 2 months 2 weeks ago
I started learning Chinese with YOYO Chinese in end of November or early December because I knew I would come to China this year. I unfortunately didn't have as much time back home as I wanted to study, I had to pause after January. My colleagues here in Shanghai tell me though that my pronunciation is great and they all understand me perfectly. I can also sometimes by catching up a few words understand what they are talking about and i have only arrived this Tuesday. So fei chang xie xie ni
vogel_saskia 3 months 1 week ago
That's awesome! Those first lessons really dial in the pronunciation, right? Thank you for sharing your story and your feedback -- we'd love to hear more as you continue to go! 加油 (jiā yóu)!
JonathanYoyo 3 months 1 week ago
I love this so far ! Maybe there is hope for me after all. This is best Chinese teaching I have seen and love the way you present the lessons . Thank you ! Steve
Steve Odell 4 months 1 week ago
There is hope! keep it up Steve! :)
Jenny at Yoyo Chinese 4 months 1 week ago
Hello! I'm really enjoying the lessons. When I'm wearing headphones, the sound effects for the example banners that come swooping into the video screen are a little loud and distracting. Perhaps they could be toned down a bit? Thanks!
brianx19 4 months 2 weeks ago
Hi Brian, really sorry about that! I'll be sure to pass on your comments to our development team.
Jenny at Yoyo Chinese 4 months 2 weeks ago
Thanks for updating your Pinyin course with more lesson numbers! I am really enjoying the clear examples. I also can relate to the point you made about some students might have trouble distinguishing the different tones. I think this is true for multi syllable words. It seems like in the download center, the Beginner Study Schedule is not lining up yet with the updated Pinyin lessons, but the audio review and lecture notes do line up perfectly. Thanks.
2013hal 4 months 2 weeks ago
I have been working on your lessons for nearly 3 months now. I am not sure I understand the 3rd tone. You refer to the 3rd tone as a low tone and from the graphs you use it appears to be pronounced as a low flat tone. When you used the example "Huh", you spoke in a low tone, but the tone was constant. Yet I hear the 3rd tone pronounced more like a decreasing tone at first, and then the tone rises at the end of the syllable, like a bounce. Can you help me with this?
StevenR 1 year 6 months ago
when a third tone syllable is exaggerated, spoken in isolation, or does not have another syllable following it, it slightly "dips" down low and then rises again, like the "wave" you were taught before. That's called a "full third tone." When followed by another tone, which is most of the time, the third tone actually does not rise at the end. That is called a "half third tone.
Yoyo Chinese 1 year 6 months ago
We teach the "half third tone" here at Yoyo Chinese because, in the real world, that's how you actually say the third tone most of the time. However, if you listen to Yangyang's pronunciation of "ni hao" in this lesson, you'll hear what a "full third tone" sounds like, because the "hao" there is not followed by another syllable. Hope this helps.
Yoyo Chinese 1 year 6 months ago
love it
the_ori 1 year 6 months ago
Can I ask a quick question about the tone marks? When a single syllable has two vowels, like guo or gao, does the tone mark appear over the first or second vowel? I notice in the list of names there is a Family name Gāo with the tone mark over the a (the first vowel), and Guō with the tone mark over the o (the second vowel).
VTJS 1 year 10 months ago
Check out the rules here: http://pinyin.info/rules/where.html
Corey 1 year 10 months ago
That's definitely the site to go. It got all you need to know about tone marks. Thanks Corey.
Yoyo Chinese 1 year 10 months ago
Thanks Corey. The link you provide explains everything perfectly.
VTJS 1 year 10 months ago
i really like it !!! good and useful lessons teacher
siro bosss 2 years 5 months ago
I have watched some other videos on tone before and you said that 4 + 4 becomes 2 + 4. Why isn't bèn dàn pronounced bén dàn?
wyldeck 2 years 6 months ago
I believe the 4 + 4 → 2 + 4 rule works only for the word bù (不). That is, if bù is followed by a fourth tone, the bu switches to second tone - bú.
Corey 2 years 6 months ago
my native language has 4 tones too..we have 2nd and 4th chinese tone exactly the same, and we HAVe identical sounds as in chinese H, R, SH, Q, ZH, J, CH, A, I, O, U, C We lack Z but it's identical as italian sound We lack Ü but it's identical as german or french sound Ü/EU We lack E but it's identical as "schwa" sound in many languages
Leonardo Jerkovic 2 years 8 months ago
What is your native language? :)
Yoyo Chinese 2 years 8 months ago
No problem, it's a nice little reference tool but your audio lesson was very helpful in helping me think about how the tones should work with each sound of a word.
RTorres 3 years 1 month ago
I have a really good app on Ipad called Allset learning Pinyin which I believe has all those sounds and tones. It's pretty awesome! you just touch the sound and then the tone or all the tones and you can hear how to say them. I believe you can download for free, or it's really cheap. just fyi.
RTorres 3 years 1 month ago
Thank you so much for sharing RTorres. That is very helpful.
Yoyo Chinese 3 years 1 month ago
i like u and your videos so much.
neena 3 years 5 months ago
Thank you for your support, neena. :)
Yoyo Chinese 3 years 5 months ago
For the beginners out there, I want to second the importance of learning tones. I've been learning Chinese for two years, but am having to go through conversation training again because I didn't take the tones seriously enough. I found it wasn't so bad in the beginning saying simple stuff, but for more complex sentences, it is essential. Non of my Chinese friends can understand my complex sentences because my tones are so off, even if the grammer / vocab are spot on.
wyson9 3 years 8 months ago
Thank you so much for your valuable advice to our students, wysong. Good luck with your Chinese studies. Feel free to let us know if you have any question.:)
Yoyo Chinese Development 3 years 8 months ago
I think I did can sound out my tones now:) sound like I did it. but wish that you were on skype with me or Google+ Xiexie for this lesson;)
ボウ セス 4 years 4 days ago
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