Home >>  Chinese Pinyin System >> 

Understanding Chinese Pinyin: Neutral tone


In Chinese Pinyin System, the neutral tone (also said toneless) is a special sandhi for four tones, it's normally pronounced short and light in special conditions, it's usually unmarked.

1. Auxiliary word like (de)、(de)、(de)、(zhe)、(le)、(guo) and mood word (ba)、(ma)、(ne)、(a) are all in neutral tone. For example:
领路的(lǐnglùde, lead the way); 愉快地(yúkuàide, agreeably); 学得(好)[xuéde(hǎo), learn (well)];
笑着(xiàozhe, on the laugh); 活了(huóle, living); 算了吧(suànleba, well, all right)

2. The ending word of the reduplicated words and the same double verbs are in neutral tone. For example:
妈妈(māma, mom); 弟弟(dìdi, little brother); 看看(kànkan, have a look); 听听(tīngting, listen); 了解了解(líaojielíaojie, to know about it)

3. Imaginary morpheme for word-building like (zi)、(tou) and some words express group like (men) are in neutral tone. For example: 鸽子(gēzi, dove); 燕子(yànzi, swallow); 馒头(mántou, steamed bread);
木头(mùtou, wood); 我们(wǒmen, we); 女士们(nǚshìmen, ladies)

4. Some morphemes or words behind the noun or pronoun express position like (shang)、(mian)、(bian)、(li) are in neutral tone. For example:
路上(lùshang, on the road); 脸上(liǎnshang, on the face); 外面(wàimian, outside); 后面(hòumian, back,rear)
这边(zhèbian, here, this side); 右边(yòubian, right); 村里(cūnli, in the village); 屋里(wūli, in the room)

5. Some directional words behind the verbs and adjective like (lai)、(qu) are in neutral tone. For example:
进来(jìnlai, come in); 起来(qǐlai, up (with)); 出来(chūlai, come out); 进去(jìnqu, go in); 出去(chūqu, go out); 上去(shàngqu, get on)

6. Measure word ""(ge) is in neutral tone. For example:
这个(zhège, this one); 那个(nàge, that one); 一个(yīge, one, a); 两个(liǎnge, two, a couple of); 三个(sānge, three); 四个(sìge, four);
五个(wǔge, five); 六个(liùge, six); 七个(qīge, seven); 八个(bāge, eight); 九个(jiǔge, nine); 十个(shíge, ten)

7. Some of everyday double syllables, the second syllable is usually in neutral tone.
爱人(àiren, lover); 本事(běnshi, ability); 苍蝇(cāngying, fly); 东家(dōngjia, boss); 房子(fángzi, house); 怪物(guàiwu,monster);
狐狸(húli, fox); 姐姐(jiějie, older sister); 困难(kùnnan, difficulty); 老婆(lǎopo, wife); 妹妹(mèimei, younger sister); 奶奶(nǎinai,grandma);
朋友(péngyou, friend); 清楚(qīngchu, clear); 认识(rènshi, know); 少爷(shǎoye, Master); 特务(tèwu,spy); 稳当(wěndang, steady);
相声(xiàngsheng, crosstalk); 哑巴(yǎba, dummy); 爷爷(yéye, grandpa); 招呼(zhāohu, greeting); 嘴巴(zuǐba, mouth)

8. Some syllables in neutral tone can make a distinction and tell the difference of part of speech.
wǒmen bàn shìqíng bùnéng dàyi.
我们     办   事情    不能     大意
we do things properly, not be carelessness.

nǐ duì zhèpiān lùnwén de duànluò-dàyì búshì hěn qīngchu.
你 对 这篇      论文     的  段落    大意 不是   很   清楚。
You haven't got the general effect of this paper.