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er and er-colored words

We'll explain a special case in Chinese phonetics: er and er-colored words.
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George, so far we have learned quite a lot. How are you finding it? Well, I think it’s been pretty good. Now, we only have one step left. In this video, we are going to learn a special final, “er.” “Uh.” “e…?” er. Make “e” sound and then roll your tongue, “er.” “er.”
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That sounds kind of special actually. So how do we combine this sound with other initials? Well, this is the second reason it’s so special.
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“er” as a final can only be a syllable itself, meaning it can’t be together with any initial. Wow. So can you give me some examples using this “er.” Sure. In Chinese, we just have a few words with it. You may read after me. èr, èr ,two érzi, érzi ,son nǚér ,nǚér, daughter ěrduo , ěrduo ,ear.
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Oh, so this can only be combined with other words. That’s pretty cool. Yes. But remember, “er” can be put next to initials. But “er” can follow other finals. When this happens, it’s represented with just the letter “r”. Got it. But how can we read this? You know, before final we read “r” as initial. So like “rè.” Yes, but after final it’s an ending. So it’s a read as “huār”. “huār”. Usually it doesn’t change the meaning if you add “er.” It’s often used for something small and gives the listener the feeling that you like it. More examples– xiǎoniǎor, xiǎoniǎor xiǎoháir, xiǎoháir yīdiǎnr, yīdiǎnr hǎowánr, hǎowánr
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OK, this “er.” zhēnhǎowánr. Smart. But sometimes words have different meanings when we add “er.” For example, nǎ means which. nǎr means where. Nǐ qù nǎr? where are you going? So we also have “guó”, which means country, right? And then we have nǎguó which means which country. Exactly. Another example. huà and huàr. huà is a verb which means to draw while huàr is a noun, painting a picture. So huàhuàr means to draw a picture? Yes, you are right. Wow, that’s fantastic. By the way, usually we use “er” in oral Chinese, especially in Northern China. In the south, people don’t use it very often. We can see this in the video. Nán fāng tóng xué Jīntiān tiānqì tǐng hǎo de .
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Wǒmen yàobúyào qù nǎlǐ wán a ? (Student in south: What a nice day! Shall we go somewhere to play?) Běi fāng tóng xué Nà nǐ xiǎng qù nǎr wánr a? (Student in north: Where do you want to go?) Nán fāng tóng xué Wǒ xiǎngqù gōngyuán wán. (Student in south: I want to go to the park.) Běi fāng tóng xué Gōngyuánr zài nǎr ne? (Student in north: Where is the park?) Nán fāng tóng xué Gōngyuán jiù zài nàlǐ. (Student in south: The park is right there.) Běi fāng tóng xué Nà zánliǎ děnghuìr jiù qù wánr ba. (Student in north: Then lets go play later.) Nán fāng tóng xué ènèn, hǎoya! (Student in south: Okay!)
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Oh, I see. So it’s kind of like the “r” in British and American English then. So in England we say “bird,” but in America they say “bird,” right? So, George, thus far we have learned all the initials and the finals in pinyin. I think you have done a very good job, and you can successfully graduate. Great. I really like learning pinyin! Well guys, that’s gonna to be all for me, but come back next time because Zhū lāoshī and Zhāng lǎoshī are goona invite lots of my different friends from different countries around the world to come here, and they’re going to be practicing tones, practicing pronunciation and lots of really other important topics.
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OK guys, so keep practicing and never give up. Wǒmen jiāyóu! zàijiàn.
“er” is a special final in Chinese Pinyin. When pronouncing it, make “e” sound and then roll your tongue. As a final, “er” can only be a syllable itself, meaning it can’t be together with any initial. In Chinese we just have a few words with it. For example: Click to listen
  • èr — two
  • érzi — son
  • nǚ‘ér — daughter
  • ěrduo — ear.
Although er can’t be put next to initials, it can follow other finals. When this happens, it’s represented with just the letter “r”. For example,
  • huār——flower.
“er” is often used for something small and gives the listener the feeling that you like it. Usually it doesn’t change the meaning if you add “er”. For example,Click to listen
  • xiǎo niǎor——bird
  • xiǎo háir——children
  • yì diǎnr——a little
  • hǎo wánr——interesting
Sometimes words have different meanings when we add “er”. For example,Click to listen
  • nǎ——which, nǎ guó——which country
  • nǎr ——where,Nǐ qù nǎr?—— where are you going?
  • huà—— to draw, huàr——picture, huà huàr—— to draw a picture.
Usually we use ‘er’ in oral Chinese, especially in Northern China. In the south, people don’t use it very often. In the video, you can see two students talking about going out to a park. The boy from North is using a lot of er-colored words while not for the girl from South.
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Introduction to Chinese: Pronunciation and Tone

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