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Basic Rules of Modified Tones

As the other special case in Chinese phonetics, we'll explain basic rules of modified tones in this video.

Tones are relatively difficult for many learners because there are 4 tones and neutral tone in Chinese. Moreover, tones may be influenced by other tones. For example, we say “níhǎo” instead of “nǐ hǎo”.

Rule 1: It is difficult to pronounce third tone fully when two of them are together. So when two third tones are placed next to each other, we read the first third tone as a second tone.
xǐzǎo — take a shower; yǔsǎn — umbrella; fǎyǔ — French.
Please note that we just change to second tone when we read, but the third tone mark remains the same in writing.
Rule 2: When“bu” is alone or before the first tone, second tone and third tone, we read , the fourth tone.
bù chī — do not eat; bù nán — not difficult
when it is before the fourth tone, we read , the second tone.
bú shì — is not; bú yào — don’t want.
Rule 3: “yī” means one. When “yi” is used alone or before nothing, it is pronounced as the first tone,.

xīng qī yī — Monday

When “yi” is used before the fourth tone, it is pronounced as the second tone,.

yí kuài qián — one yuan

When yi is used before other three tones, it is pronounced as the fourth tone,.

yì tiān — one day; yì bǎi — one hundred

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Learn Chinese: Introduction to Chinese Pronunciation and Tone

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