Mandarin Chinese 2 Character Tone Drills

Last Updated on July 14, 2017

Do you struggle with speaking Mandarin Chinese tones? Arguably, tones are the most difficult part of Chinese. In order to get good tones, you must practice them over and over, until you master them. While in Mainland China or Taiwan, you risk simply not being understood if you don’t use good tones. This article contains all 16 tone combinations taking 2 tones at a time: 1 1 , 1 2, 1 3, 1 4, 2 1, 2 2, 2 3, 2 4, 3 1, 3 2 , 3 3, 3 4, 4 1 , 4 2, 4 3, and 4 4.

As Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language, it is absolutely vital to get your tones correct. Use this article to practice your tones to improve your speaking ability.

The data for each drill is shown as follows: first Traditional Characters followed by their corresponding Simplified Characters followed by the pronunciation of the 2 characters, and then finally the definition(s) of the word. If you would prefer to download the drills as a PDF with dictionary data, you can download it here. Or, if you would prefer to download the drills as a PDF with no dictionary data, you can download it here.

(Dictionary data used from CC-CEDICT)

1 1 tone combinations

一些 一些 [yi1 xie1] /some/a few/a little/
一生 一生 [yi1 sheng1] /all one’s life/throughout one’s life/
一應 一应 [yi1 ying1] /all/every/
一聲 一声 [yi1 sheng1] /first tone in Mandarin (high level tone)/

1 2 tone combinations

七十 七十 [qi1 shi2] /seventy/70/
一級 一级 [yi1 ji2] /first class/category A/
三十 三十 [san1 shi2] /thirty/30/

1 3 tone combinations

三角 三角 [san1 jiao3] /triangle/
一等 一等 [yi1 deng3] /first class/grade A/
一總 一总 [yi1 zong3] /altogether/in all/
一早 一早 [yi1 zao3] /early in the morning/at dawn/

1 4 tone combinations

一下 一下 [yi1 xia4] /(used after a verb) give it a go/to do (sth for a bit to give it a try)/one time/once/in a while/all of a sudden/all at once/
一二 一二 [yi1 er4] /one or two/a few/
一半 一半 [yi1 ban4] /half/
一月 一月 [Yi1 yue4] /January/

2 1 tone combinations

南京 南京 [Nan2 jing1] /Nanjing city
人均 人均 [ren2 jun1] /per capita/
人工 人工 [ren2 gong1] /artificial/manpower/manual work/
人身 人身 [ren2 shen1] /person/personal/human body/

2 2 tone combinations

來年 来年 [lai2 nian2] /next year/the coming year/
何如 何如 [he2 ru2] /how about/what kind of/
來文 来文 [lai2 wen2] /received document/sent document/
全職 全职 [quan2 zhi2] /full-time job/

2 3 tone combinations

人口 人口 [ren2 kou3] /population/people/
南美 南美 [Nan2 Mei3] /South America/
博主 博主 [bo2 zhu3] /blogger/
乘警 乘警 [cheng2 jing3] /police on trains/train marshal/

2 4 tone combinations

乘客 乘客 [cheng2 ke4] /passenger/
傳譯 传译 [chuan2 yi4] /to translate/to interpret/
停放 停放 [ting2 fang4] /to park (a car etc)/to moor (a boat etc)/to leave sth (in a place)/
佛寺 佛寺 [Fo2 si4] /Buddhist temple/

3 1 tone combinations

北京 北京 [Bei3 jing1] /Beijing, capital of People’s Republic of China/Peking/PRC government/
主播 主播 [zhu3 bo1] /anchor (TV)/
保修 保修 [bao3 xiu1] /to promise to keep sth in good repair/guarantee/warranty/
保安 保安 [bao3 an1] /to ensure public security/public security/security guard/

3 2 tone combinations

旅行 旅行 [lu:3 xing2] /to travel/journey/trip/
九十 九十 [jiu3 shi2] /ninety/
以前 以前 [yi3 qian2] /before/formerly/previous/ago/
主食 主食 [zhu3 shi2] /main food/staple (rice and noodles)/

3 3 tone combinations

你好 你好 [ni3 hao3] /Hello!/Hi!/How are you?/
也許 也许 [ye3 xu3] /perhaps/maybe/
保守 保守 [bao3 shou3] /conservative/to guard/to keep/
保險 保险 [bao3 xian3] /insurance/to insure/safe/secure/be sure/be bound to/

3 4 tone combinations

主義 主义 [zhu3 yi4] /-ism/ideology/
五月 五月 [Wu3 yue4] /May/fifth month (of the lunar year)/
以便 以便 [yi3 bian4] /so that/so as to/in order to/
乳酪 乳酪 [ru3 lao4] /cheese/

4 1 tone combinations

上周 上周 [shang4 zhou1] /last week/
上班 上班 [shang4 ban1] /to go to work/to be on duty/to start work/to go to the office/
下車 下车 [xia4 che1] /to get off or out of (a bus, train, car etc)/
下週 下周 [xia4 zhou1] /next week/

4 2 tone combinations

上回 上回 [shang4 hui2] /last time/the previous time/
上學 上学 [shang4 xue2] /to go to school/to attend school/
上年 上年 [shang4 nian2] /last year/
下回 下回 [xia4 hui2] /next chapter/next time/

4 3 tone combinations

下午 下午 [xia4 wu3] /afternoon/p.m./
上海 上海 [Shang4 hai3] /Shanghai city
下雨 下雨 [xia4 yu3] /to rain/
下雪 下雪 [xia4 xue3] /to snow/

4 4 tone combinations

上月 上月 [shang4 yue4] /last month/
上次 上次 [shang4 ci4] /last time/
上課 上课 [shang4 ke4] /to go to class/to attend class/to go to teach a class/
上載 上载 [shang4 zai4] /to upload/

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