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Why You Have To Master Chinese Tones

We will explain why you have to master the Chinese tones through two sentences. They would have the exact same pronunciation except different tones on shui and jiao.

Sentence A:


xiǎo jie, shuǐ (the third tone) jiǎo (the third tone) yī wǎn duō shao qián?


Miss – how much is a bowl of dumplings?

Sentence B:


xiǎo jie, shuì (the fourth tone) jiào (the fourth tone) yī wǎn duō shao qián?


Miss (prostitute) – how much is it to sleep with you (one night)?

水饺 – shuǐ jiǎo:dumplings


睡觉 – shuì jiào:sleep


小姐 (xiǎo jie) is used differently in parts of China. In Shanghai you can use xiǎo jie to call a female waitress & it’s understood to be waitress. However it is also used as slang to refer to prostitutes or bar girls. Therefore you probably do not want to randomly call a girl that who isn’t obviously a waitress or you might get slapped. If you want to be safe you can also address a waiter/waitress as 服务员(fúwùyuán).

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Qin Chen focuses on teaching Chinese and language acquisition. She is willing to introduce more about Chinese learning ways and skills. Now, she is working as Mandarin teacher at All Mandarin.

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