Jan 07

Tone ChartMandarin Chinese has four pitched tones and a toneless tone.

1. The first tone (Flat or High Level Tone) is represented by a macron (ˉ) added to the pinyin vowel:

2. The second tone (Rising or High-Rising Tone) is denoted by an acute accent (ˊ):

3. The third tone (Falling-Rising or Low Tone) is marked by a caron/háček (ˇ). It is not the rounded breve (˘), though a breve is sometimes substituted due to font limitations.

4. The fourth tone (Falling or High-Falling Tone) is represented by a grave accent (ˋ):

5. The fifth tone (Neutral Tone) is represented by a normal vowel without any accent mark:

When you are learning Mandarin using Pinyin text these tones will be noted by the above accents.

The following four words are spelled the same in Pinyin but each has a different tone and has a different meaning.

媽 ma1 or mā — mother

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麻 ma2 or má — hemp

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馬 ma3 or mǎ — horse

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罵 ma4 or mà — scold

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嗎 ma — question particle

Here are the 4 different tones shown in their wave forms.

Wave Tones

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