Archive for the ‘ Speaking Naturally ’ Category

(&4) Pronounce ‘jie’

Today we are going to learn the pronunciation of ‘jie’. As usual, click on the icon on the right and listen to the audio. Note that the file hosting website may be a little slow, and you may have to wait up to 1 min for the file to load. Sorry about it. =)


(&3) Heteronyms / 多音多义字

As you study more chinese, you will experience more chinese characters. Even if you are not trying to remember all of them, or memorise them, but instead you just want to know enough to understand and speak mandarin, you still will see too many of the chinese characters in your learning journey.

One difficult aspect of recognising chinese characters is the mere quantities of them. Reportedly, there are more than 80,000 chinese characters, but only 3,500 are frequently used.  Of which, some characters have more than one pronunciation. Sometimes they are similar, sometimes not.

Don’t worry too much about it, just remember that one character having more than one pronunciation in chinese is normal. If in doubt, leave a comment to discuss with me.


The simplest example is 一.

It can be pronounced as yi1, or yi2, or yi4.

二三 yi1 er4 san1 one two three
星期 xing1 qi2 yi1 Monday

yi2 ding4 definite (but sometimes it is pronounced as yi4 ding4 too. Sigh)
半 yi2 ban4 one-half (but sometimes it is pronounced as yi4 ban4 too. Double sigh)


chang2 duan3 length
zhang3 xiang4 look


ceng2 jing1 previously
zeng1 sun1 grandchildren


bu4 xing2 cannot
yin2 hang2 bank


There are more examples, but no point worrying you with all these. I’ll explain as and when we come across them in the lessons. All in all, it may be complicated at times, just have to keep speaking mandarin to be more familiar with it.

(&2) Pronounce ‘ji’

By now you should already know that chinese characters comes in all shapes, and beginners learning mandarin will not be able to read all of them quickly.

Therefore there were a system to romanized the pronunciations, and they are called 汉语拼音 han4 yu3 pin1 yin1. Some of the words are admittedly tough for non-natives to pronounce.

I’d prepared this audio lesson to help (hopefully it did), and I’m sorry if the presentation is not smooth. Click on the icon on the right.


(&1) Third tonal change | 第三声变调

In chinese, as you would already know, there are four tones in pronunciation. Okay, sometimes there is a 5th silent tone but that is beside the point.

Of the four tones, the second and third tones are probably th hardest to pronounce (I don’t know for sure, do correct me if I am wrong), and of which there is an interesting fact to pronounce two third-tone chinese characters when they are side by side.

ǎ ě ǐ ǒ ǒ

When two third-tone chinese characters are side by side, the earlier character will take on a second-tone pronunciation.


Okay, let’s go with an example. I’d used this vocabulary before, but because the focus was not on it, you probably did not catch it.


Scenario 1

可以 ke3 yi3 can

Although it is rightfully pronounced as ke3 yi3, it is really difficult to, so over years of morphosis, all third-tone + third-tone combinations would be pronounced as second-tone + third-tone, which means it is pronounced as ke2 yi3.


Scenrio 2

If it is third-tone + third tone + third tone? Then we have to see how are the characters broken up. If first character is independent, and second, third characters made up one word, then the second character will take the second tone.

我可以 wo3 ke3 yi3 I can

In here, 我 is still pronounced as wo3, and 可以 became ke2 yi3.


Scenario 3

If first, second characters form a word, and the third character is independent, then first, second character will take on second-tone, and the third character retains third-tone.

可以买 ke3 yi3 mai3 can buy

In here, it is pronounced as ke2 yi2 mai3


Scenario 4

If all three characters form a word? Then the first character and second character adopts second-tone, and third character retains third-tone.

九九九 jiu3 jiu3 jiu3 chinese written form for 999

here, it is pronounced as jiu2 jiu2 jiu3

And if it is an entire sentence of third-tones? Let’s come back to that another time. For now, remember the basic rule: when third-tone + third-tone, it is pronounced as second tone-third tone.