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Tone Lesson 11 – The Neutral Tone (1)

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MANDARIN CHINESE NEUTRAL TONE: NOT THE PINYIN FIFTH TONE

This lesson is about Mandarin Chinese Neutral Tone. The Neutral Tone is not a real tone, that is why there is no Pinyin Fifth Tone. There are two reasons why Mandarin Chinese Neutral Tone is not a real tone: (1) characters in Chinese without Tones all have an original Tone. The Neutral Tone is only a modification. (2) the Mandarin Chinese Neutral Tone does not have a fixed Tone. We will be practicing the Neutral Tone with Chinese tone exercises.

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How to Pronounce Chinese Without Tones?

When we see characters in Chinese without Tones, we will pronounce them in the Neutral Tone. The Mandarin Neutral Tone sounds a light, vague and short. And the Neutral Tone doesn't have any tone marks on it, we will just write the Final by itself.

 

Mandarin Chinese Neutral Tone Is Not The Pinyin Fifth Tone

There are only Four Tones in Chinese, and the Neutral Tone is not a real Tone, so there is no Pinyin Fifth Tone. There are two reasons:

(1) Characters in Chinese without Tones all have their original Tones. A syllable is pronounced in the Neutral Tone because its original Tone gets modified or changed sometimes. The chart below shows you some examples. They are 2-syllable words with both syllables made of the same characters. In each word, the first character is pronounced in its original Tone while the second character is pronounced in the Neutral Tone.

PINYIN CHINESE ENGLISH
 bà ba 爸爸 dad
mā ma  妈妈 mom 
gē ge  哥哥 big brother 
jiě jie  姐姐 big sister 
dì di 弟弟 little brother
mèi mei  妹妹  little sister 

(2) The Mandarin Chinese Neutral Tone does not have a fixed pitch or pitch range. The pitch of a Neutral-tone syllable is decided by the syllable in front of it. The Neutral Tone after the Fourth Tone has the lowest pitch, while the Neutral Tone after the Third Tone has the highest pitch.  Each red dot in the picture below shows the pitch of the Neutral Tone after the First, the Second or the Fourth Tone.

Why is Mandarin Chinese Neutral Tone not a real Pinyin Fifth Tone? Find the answer in this video lesson and practice it with Chinese Tone Exercises.
Mandarin Chinese Neutral Tone has not have a fixed pitch or pitch range.

Chinese Tone Exercises: The Neutral Tone

Why is Mandarin Chinese Neutral Tone not a real Pinyin Fifth Tone? Find the answer in this video lesson and practice it with Chinese Tone Exercises.
First Tone + Neutral Tone

Why is Mandarin Chinese Neutral Tone not a real Pinyin Fifth Tone? Find the answer in this video lesson and practice it with Chinese Tone Exercises.
Second Tone + Neutral Tone

Why is Mandarin Chinese Neutral Tone not a real Pinyin Fifth Tone? Find the answer in this video lesson and practice it with Chinese Tone Exercises.
Third Tone + Neutral Tone

Why is Mandarin Chinese Neutral Tone not a real Pinyin Fifth Tone? Find the answer in this video lesson and practice it with Chinese Tone Exercises.
Fourth Tone +Neutral Tone

TONE EXERCISES GROUP 1

PINYIN CHINESE ENGLISH
dōng xi  东西 things; stuff
hái zi  孩子 child; kid 
hǎo ba  好吧 OK 
yào bu  要不 or else 

TONE EXERCISES GROUP 2

PINYIN CHINESE ENGLISH
tā de 他的 his
bié de  别的  other 
hǎo de  好的  OK 
shì de  是的 yes 

TONE EXERCISES GROUP 3

PINYIN CHINESE ENGLISH
dīng zi 钉子 nail 
xié zi  鞋子  shoes 
nǎo zi  脑子  brain 
shàn zi  扇子   fan
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