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5 Fun Chinese Comics - Watch Your Tones


Speaking with the correct Chinese tones isn't just about having "good" pronunciation: it is absolutely necessary if you want to be understood when you talk to a native speaker! 

But learning tones doesn't have to be a tiresome struggle!  We've created this new series of comic strips, which we're calling "Watch Your Tones", to help you have a little fun while working on your tones.

Each comic tells a funny little story illustrate how using the wrong tone can totally change your meaning, and lead to some big misunderstandings.  These stories aren't just entertaining, they help you remember the correct tone so you don't make these mistakes yourself!

And if you're serious about mastering these sounds, make sure you check out these 5 free units at the start of our Beginner Conversational Course, where we cover tones and pinyin.  With our help and the clear explanations in the videos, you really can learn to pronounce Chinese like a native speaker.

1. 问 (wèn) - to ask, vs. 吻 (wěn) - to kiss

This first comic looks at 问 (wèn) - to ask, and 吻 (wěn) - to kiss. You can see how just a simple slip of your tones can get you in trouble!

Do tones still seem totally strange to you?  Our unique approach to teaching tones has helped so many students who have struggled in the past FINALLY have their big breakthrough. Before you decide tones are just too hard to learn, check out this lesson:

2. 眼睛 (yǎn jing) - eyes, vs. 眼镜 (yǎn jìng) - glasses

I bet every single student studying Mandarin has had a moment where they get confused about the correct tones for 眼睛 (yǎn jing) - eyes, and 眼镜 (yǎn jìng) - glasses!

They sound identical except for their tones, but there's a pretty big difference between "broken glasses" and "broken eyes"! I hope this comic gives you a little story so that you never forget the right tones for these words again!

Whenever you find yourself making one of these kinds of tone mistakes, try to make up your own funny story to help you remember the right tones.

* Struggling to read the comic strip?  It's time to learn to read Chinese! 

Our two Chinese Character courses cover the most common 600 characters, which combine to form 80% of all written Chinese. You can try the first two units for free, or check out this video to learn more about our Chinese Character Courses:

3. 熊猫 (xióng māo) - panda, vs. 胸毛 (xiōng máo) - chest hair

What do panda bears have to do with chest hair??

Absolutely nothing! But in Mandarin - if you don't watch your tones - they sound the same!

This comic has our well-intentioned Mandarin student getting into a seriously awkward moment, mixing up the tones for 熊猫 (xióng māo) - panda, and 胸毛 (xiōng máo) - chest hair!

4. 西服 (xī fú) - suit of clothes, vs. 媳妇 (xí fù) - wife

Even though they sound exactly the same without tones, there's a really big difference between "xī fú" (西服 - suit of clothes) and "xí fù" (媳妇 - wife)!

5. 汤 (tāng) - soup, vs. 烫 (tàng) - scalding hot

The Chinese word for "soup" - 汤 (tāng) - is only a simple tone change from 烫 (tàng), meaning "scalding hot". Not only that, the character 烫 (tàng) itelf has the character for soup with the character for fire - 火 (huǒ) - beneath it!

We actually review the many different "tang" words in a lesson in our Upper Intermediate Conversational Course when we teach 趟 (tàng), the measure word for round trips. Yoyo students can check out the lesson here.

I hope you enjoyed these fun "Watch Your Tones" comics!

Let us know your funniest tone mistakes in the comments below, and if you'd like us to make more Mandarin learning comics!