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The neutral tone and tone marking rules

We will learn neutral tone and where to write the tone marks.

Apart from the four tones, there is another tone in Chinese, which is short and light, known as “the neutral tone”. For thanks in Chinese 谢谢xièxie, the second character is just the neutral tone.

Tone Marking

Rules: only above a vowel

  1. If there is only one vowel in a syllable, mark the tone above that vowel. For example, 妈mā The only vowel is a, so the tone marks on a.
  2. If there are two or more vowels in a final, the tone mark should be put in this priority sequence: a, o, e, i, u, ü. That is if you see “a” in a final put the tone mark on “a” if there is no “a” then place the tone mark on “o” and so on.
  3. If you see both i and u in one final, you always put the tone mark above the latter one.

For example: 再见zàijiàn 学校xuéxiào 游泳yóuyǒng 篮球lánqiú 睡觉shuìjiào

  1. The neutral tone is unmarked.
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HSK Standard Course Level 1: 1.1

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