Fun Tongue Twisters In Mandarin Chinese To Practice

18 January 2024
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House

Unsplash: Javier Quiroga

In Mandarin Chinese, you can say that there’s a total of 5 tones – 4 basic pitch tones and 1 neutral tone. And these tones are important because they help differentiate words. For example, take a look at the simple two-letter word “ma.” That looks easy, doesn’t it? Well, without any tone marks you wouldn’t know what that means, be it “ma” as in horse or “ma” as in mother or “ma” as in something else. For this reason, you definitely need the tone marks to help you understand the word “ma” is talking about.

One way to practice the different tones in Mandarin Chinese is by learning some Mandarin Chinese tongue twisters or 绕口令 (rào kǒu lìng). It is a simple exercise. It is fun. It is easy. It is enjoyable. Start practicing with this short list.

绕口令 (rào kǒu lìng): 妈妈骑马, 马慢, 妈妈骂马
Pin Yin: mā ma qí mǎ, mǎ màn, mā ma mà mǎ
English translation: mother rides a horse, the horse is slow, mother scolds the horse

绕口令 (rào kǒu lìng): 四 是 四 , 十 是 十 , 十 四 是 十 四 , 四 十 是 四 十
Pin Yin: sì shì sì, shí shì shí, shí sì shì shí sì, sì shí shì sì shí
English translation: four is four, ten is ten, fourteen is fourteen, forty is forty

绕口令 (rào kǒu lìng): 老师是不是四十四岁
Pin Yin: lǎo shī shì bú shì sì shí sì suì
English translation: is the teacher 44 years old

绕口令 (rào kǒu lìng): 红凤凰,粉凤凰,粉红凤凰 花凤凰
Pin Yin: hóng fèng huáng, fěn fèng huáng, fěn hóng fèng huáng huā fèng huáng
English translation: red phoenix, pink phoenix, pink-red phoenix, Flowery phoenix

绕口令 (rào kǒu lìng): 吃葡萄不吐葡萄皮,不吃葡萄倒吐葡萄皮
Pin Yin: chī pú táo bù tǔ pú táo pí, bù chī pú táo dào tǔ pú táo pí
English translation: when eating grapes don’t spit out the grape skin, when not eating grapes spit out the grape skin

绕口令 (rào kǒu lìng): 老头端汤上塔,塔滑汤洒汤烫塔
Pinyin: lǎo tóu duān tāng shàng tǎ, tǎ huá tāng sǎ tāng tàng tǎ
English translation: the old man served the soup and go up to the tower, the tower is slippery, the soup spilled out and burned the tower

绕口令 (rào kǒu lìng): 知道就说知道, 不知道就说不知道, 不要知道说不知道, 也不要不知道说知道, 你知道不知道
Pinyin: zhī dào jiù shuō zhī dào, bù zhī dào jiù shuō bu zhī dào, bú yào zhī dào shuō bu zhī dào, yě bú yào bù zhī dào shuō zhī dào, nǐ zhīdào bù zhīdào
English translation: if you know, say you know, if you don’t know, say you don’t know, don’t say you don’t know when you know, and don’t say you don’t know when you do know, do you know