Practice using the four Mandarin tones. Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language, which means that different tones can change the meaning of a word, even if the pronunciation and spelling are otherwise the same. It is essential to learn the different tones if you wish to speak Mandarin Chinese correctly.Mandarin Chinese has four main tones, as follows:
The first tone is a high, flat tone. Your voice stays flat, with no rise or dip in the way it sounds. Using the word “ma” as an example, the first tone is indicated using the symbol above the letter a: “mā”.
The second tone is a rising tone. Your voice rises from a low to middle pitch, as if you were asking someone to repeat something by saying “huh?” or “what?” The second tone is indicated using the symbol “má”.
The third tone is a dipping tone. The pitch goes from middle to low to high, like when you say the letter “B”. When two third-tone syllables are near each other, the second one retains its third tone sound while the first takes the sound of the second tone. The third tone is indicated using the symbol “mǎ”.
The fourth tone is a lowering tone. The pitch goes rapidly from high to low as if giving a command e.g. stop! Or as if you’re reading a book and have come across something new and interesting and are saying “huh”. The fourth tone is indicated using the symbol “mà”.
Learn more about Chinese pinyin