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More Confusion about 4th Tone


Hello again

As I wrote previously, this Say it Right series is a good job by all! It clarified several things that I did not understand. Can you clear up my confusion about the 4th tone?

Fiona teaches it as an “soft” or “graceful” drop in tone, which I take to mean a slow drop, and that is what we hear in the lesson drill. But I still hear it often as a fast drop. Do we need to slow it down or risk being misunderstood?



Hello Walter,

On pitch, the 4. tone of Mandarin is really a fast drop. But, on loudness, it’s normally ‘soft’ and ‘graceful’, not as loud as many leaners used doing. Even when emphasizing, many native speakers adopt strategy of widening the pitch range and lengthening the syllable or the pause before it, than loudening it.

Frederic Xu


Hello Xu Laoshi ,

Saying the 4th tone loudly is a mistake I have been making. Your video series has helped a lot, but I still have a long way to go.