20. Single-syllable Tones

In the first module on tones, we introduced tones with simple initials and finals. This module provides more practice with tones using a greater variety of initials and finals. Even if you haven’t mastered all of the initials or finals, that should not be a problem as the focus of this module is on the use of tones . You might also return to this module after you have completed all the modules on initials and finals.

If you recall, there are five tones in Chinese. The first tone is an even, high-level contour:

Character and PinyinEnglish Equivalent
song
chicken
to reside
package
boat
to go out
stupid
home
to pinch
news
to rest
excellent
(of a child) obedient, well-behaved
to go back
to bend
empty
to hold
nervous

Listening Quiz 1

Listen to the audio below and type in the number 1 if you hear the first tone, and the letter N if what you hear is not the first tone.

The second tone has a rising contour that moves from a low pitch to a high pitch:

Character and PinyinEnglish Equivalent
to select, to choose
late, slow
such as
a surname
residence
clip
eggplant
grandpa
mind
who, whom
to decide
to study, to learn
group, flock
busy
strong
bear

Listening Quiz 2

Listen to the audio below and type in the number 1 if you hear the first tone, the number 2 if you hear the second tone, and the letter N for any other tone that you hear.

The third tone has a contour that falls slightly and then rises:

Character and PinyinEnglish Equivalent
only
savings, to save
milk
have to
fake, false
bite
to have
water
snow
funds
to roll up
party
rank, wait
shadow
speech, to talk
network, net

Listening Quiz 3

Listen to the audio below and type in the number 1 if you hear the first tone, the number 2 if you hear the second tone, the number 3 if you hear the third tone, and the letter N for any other tone you hear.

The fourth tone has a falling contour that starts high and then falls sharply to a low pitch:

Character and PinyinEnglish Equivalent
book, booklet
color
thorough
society
call
pretty
smile, laugh
drag
sleep
outline, plan
abuse
month, moon
used to, accustomed to
handsome,pretty
advise,urge
shake,sway

Listening Quiz 4

Listen to the audio below and type in the number 1 if you hear the first tone, the number 2 if you hear the second tone, the number 3 if you hear the third tone, and the number 4 if you hear the fourth tone.

The neutral tone is pronounced short and light. Syllables with a neutral tone seldom occur in the beginning of a word or at the beginning of a sentence:

Character and PinyinEnglish Equivalent
older brother
older sister
be aware of; know
table
to come out
date, day
maternal uncle
grandpa
to thank
evening, night
yes
rest
white
ask
emperor
forget

Dictation Quiz

Listen to the audio below and fill in the blanks with the Pinyin of what you hear. Rather than entering the tone mark, indicate the number of the tone after the final. So, if the answer is , you should enter ma3.