Chinese has four tones.  Why they are so important? Chinese is a toner language. Even if  they are the same pronunciation, different tones bring you  a different meaning. 

 Such as “水饺(shǔi jiǎo)–dumplings” and “睡觉(shùi jiào)--sleeping”, “杯子(bēi zi )– cup” and “被子(bèi zi )– quilt”, “兔子(tù zi )– Rabbit” and “秃子(tù zi )– bald guy”. Do you see the little symbols on top of the letters?  Those tell you the tone of the word.  Are you rolling your eyes now ?  That’s what my mom did when she started learning English. Don’t worry! In fact, the four tones is very simple, I have a good way to show you how.

One night, I met PIN YIN fairy in my dream. 

1. The beginning, what she said to me sounds like a bell ringing, DING DING DING ….. This is the first tone of the Chinese. The HIGH PITCH, sounds like a bell is ringing, Ding Ding… We use ” ” for first tone. Dīng   Dīng    Dīng …..

2. Of course I don’t understand. All I can say is “what? ”  I raised my eyebrows and my tone, “what? ” ” huh?? ” This is the 2nd tone sounds like. A rising , question like tone. 

3. Pin Yin fairy realized I don’t understand a thing.  She started using body language to explain to me. I started nodding my head and said “uh huh, uh huh..” This is the 3rd tone, first go down then go up. Just like you nod your head and say ” uh, huh..” 

4. After a while, I got all the puzzle together, I finally understood what she tried to tell me . I jumped and cheered ” OH… I got it!” I was so happy! Here comes the 4th tone. It sounds just like ” Oh”, the tone goes all the way down .


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