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  • Writer's pictureHsin-I Sampson

Why tones matter when learning Chinese

If you've ever tried to learn Chinese you'll have heard about the 4 'tones' and how important they are to mastering the language.

To (briefly) recap there are 4 tones (high level, rising, falling/rising, and falling) and when you attach a tone to a word it changes the meaning. Tone marks are added to pinyin/zhuyin to help people remember tones - but not to characters (simplified or traditional). Learners are expected to memorise the tones as a vital step in understanding and in being understood!

Now, I fully agree learning tones is really important, but I also believe they shouldn't be scary or become such an obsession that worrying about getting the correct tone leads to mental paralysis when practicing conversation!

A lot of native speakers would probably struggle to even know which tone is associated with a particular word unless they stopped to think about it.

So....practice, memorise and absorb tones, but don't let them hold you back!


p.s. there's more on this in the video!


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