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Today we will focus on a special tone- neutral tone.

A character with a neutral tone will be pronounced in a short and light way.

The neutral tone doesn’t have a tone mark. If you see a syllable without a tone mark in pinyin, that means it is pronounced as a neutral tone.

There are 2 types of words usually containing neutral tone syllables.

  1. In words formed by 2 repetitive characters, the second one is usually read in the neutral tone.
爸爸bàba 妈妈 māma
爷爷 yéye 奶奶 nǎinai
星星xīngxing 谢谢 xièxie
看看 kànkan 尝尝chángchang
  1. In words ending with “们” “子” or “头”, the “们” “子” “头” are usually read in the neutral tone.
你们nǐmen 我们 wǒmen 他们 tāmen
桌子zhuōzi 杯子 bēizi 椅子 yǐzi
里头 lǐtou 外头 wàitou 石头 shítou
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HSK Standard Course Level 1: 1.2

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