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Ni hao and other 2nd tone 3rd tone combinations


I have just listened to say it right lesson 7. I think it was important to realise that the more a phrase is spoken in a language the more it is likely to change. So it is probably a bad idea to refer to phrases like ni3 hao3 to copy for other 2-3 tone combinations.

Although the teacher did say that it can be said like ni2 hao2. To me in Fiona’s lesson drill it sounds like ni2 hao4. Have I simply not got a Chinese ear yet?


For those’s that want the link to the drill video, it’s here:

Having just listened (1:08) she is speaking it accurately to my ear. I can see why you might think that the second noise sounds like a 4th tone, but this is because she is going from a very high pitch, all the way down to the lowest pitch in a short amount of time.

Had she been speaking it with a 2nd / 4th tone pattern, there would be a lot more emphasis on the 4th tone, which would first rise up, and then drop down, rather than drop down.

I have made two audio comparisons for you to listen to. For a native speaker, the difference is clear, but for many learners, it’s a but more subtle.

Check out the playlist I made and see if you can tell:


Third Tones:
2/4th tones:


This is really a good case of research on lingual sound perception. And it shows the importance of the higher beginning pitch of the 4.Tone in Mandarin, just like what we have mentioned in the SIR series:
A 4. tone’s beginning pitch should be mostly even higher than the 1. tone and 2. tone beside it. And the low falling tendency won’t bothering the native speaker to tell 3. tone from 4. tone, but the lowest pitching sound with energy, with longer creaky voice.

Frederic (Xu Laoshi)