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having trouble with tones


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ive just started learning chinese, and i really hate learning the pinyin. is there any easy way to remember the tones? what ive been trying to do is to say the words in my head to try to guess the tone. but this method presents 2 problems for me:

1. I have no idea if I am saying the words correctly.

2. Tones change when characters are combined with other characters. Like 2 characters both with 3rd tones become 3rd tone and neutral (or something like that? i dont even remember...). So, even if I am (by any chance) saying the words correctly, I may not write the individual pinyin correctly.

Do you think #1 is just because I've just started learning? Maybe I'll develop more intuition for it as i progress? I dunno I'm really having trouble with remembering the tones, both in writing, and in speech (and knowing if I am saying it correctly...).

If anyone have any tips to overcome this, I'd really appreciate it. I'm getting a headache... :help

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Hey, no need to get depressed, we've all been there! For that reason, there are plenty of other posts on here dealing with just that topic, for instance this one. Do a search and you will find loads of additional information. As I said, you're not the first to have this problem.

Some more specific tips:

Do not expect any 'built-in' Chinese language capabilities. Nobody who hasn't been in a Chinese environment for a long time, or has studied the language for a while, can guess the tones of words, nor can they pronounce them correctly. Your best bet would be to create an environment suitable to learn the language, which at best of course would mean a stay in China. Should that not be possible, just a couple of native speakers or even only listening materials such as tapes of a Chinese course can be a good start, too.

You can get some more inspiration on all aspects of learning from these two posts by wushijiao: Some advice for beginners and My recent studying methods

And, very quickly, when a third tone is followed by another, the first one is pronounced as second key.

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My favorite is a program called Pinyin Master. As with all computer programs it's for listening comprehension and has limited application to speaking, but it does a fantastic job for what it is designed to do. The drills for tones are quite challenging but I have noticed my performance improve as I've worked with the software.


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