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Practise the retroflex finals

Today we will practise the retroflex syllable, and the aspirated and unaspirated initials, and how to use the syllable-dividing mark.

The retroflex final

We have learnt the word 女儿 nǚ’ér, here 儿 ér is an independent syllable in this word, while 儿can also be combined with a syllable before it, forming a retroflex syllable, today we’ll focus on the retroflex syllable first.

How to pronounce er. First put the tongue in the position for e, then slightly curl up the tongue-tip.

Functions of the retroflex final:

  1. To distinguish word meanings: 这 zhè this —— 这儿 zhèr here
  2. To distinguish parts of speech: 画 huà to paint —— 画儿 huàr painting
  3. To show that something is small: 门 mén usually big —— 门儿 ménr probably small and more casual
  4. To show affection: 花儿 huār usually implies you like the flower

Aspirated and Unaspirated Initials

Differences: the strength of air

b, d: light strength of air

p, t: strong strength of air

Unaspirated Initials Aspirated Initials
b p
d t
g k
j q
z c
zh ch

Syllable-dividing mark

when a syllable beginning with a, o or e follows another syllable, the syllable-dividing mark should be used. Its function is to separate the two syllable.

Like the pinyin for 西安 is Xi’ān.

Another example, 饥饿 借,with the syllable-dividing marks it’s 饥饿 jī’è which means hungry, while without the mark it’s 借 jiè, means to borrow.

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HSK Standard Course Level 1: 1.1

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