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Understanding Chinese Pinyin: Sandhi of the 3rd tone


In Mandarin Chinese Pinyin System, the 3rd tone can keep the original tune, only in the words or at the end of the sentence or read alone. If the 3rd tone appears before the other four tones, it would have tone sandhi.

1. When a 3rd tone (low dipping level) appears before another 3rd tone, the first one changes to a 2nd tone and the tone pitch changes from 214 to 35. [21435]
    水果(shuǐguǒ, fruit); 了解(liǎojiě, understand)
    领导(lǐngdǎo, leader); 演讲(yǎnjiǎng, lecture)
    早起(zǎoqǐ, early,morning); 等等(děngděng, and so on)
    讲讲(jiǎngjiǎng, speak,say); 想起(xiǎngqǐ, remember)

2. When a 3rd tone (low dipping level) appears before another tone (not a 3rd tone but a 1st tone or 2nd tone or 4th tone or neutral tone), the first one changes to a half 3rd tone and the tone pitch changes from 214 to 211. [214211]
    Before 1st tone: 首都(shǒudū, capital) [214211]
    Before 2nd tone: 改良(gǎiliáng, improve) [214211]
    Before 4th tone: 解放(jiěfàng, liberate) [214211]
    Before neutral tone: 尾巴(wěiba, tail) [214211]

3. When a word or phrase build with three 3rd tone syllables, different tone sandhi may vary depending on the meaning of the words.
If the construction is "disyllable" + "monosyllable", the first two syllables change to 2nd tone and the tone pitch changes from 214 to 35. [21435]
    展览馆(zhánlǎnguǎn, exhibition centre (or hall))
    管理组(guánlǐzǔ, group of management)
    种马场(zhǒngmǎchǎng, studhorse farms)
If the construction is "monosyllable" + "disyllable", the first one change to a half 3rd tone and the tone pitch changes from 214 to 211, the middle one changes to 2nd tone and the tone pitch changes from 214 to 35.
    很勇敢(hěnyǒnggǎn, very brave)
    小老虎(xiǎolǎohǔ, small tiger)
    好母马(hǎomǔmǎ, good female horse)