Forum Rocket Chinese Chinese Vocab Should the PinYin of "我不如你忙。 Wǒ bù rú nǐ máng。" more correctly be "Wǒ bùrú nǐ máng." ?

Should the PinYin of "我不如你忙。 Wǒ bù rú nǐ máng。" more correctly be "Wǒ bùrú nǐ máng." ?

David K

In Lesson 1.7 "bù rú" is separated into two words whereas every where else I've seen it, "bùrú" is
one word not two.  Is this a misprint, or is there some meta-rule working here as like in the adjacent 3rd tones changing the second tone?

Wǒ bù rú nǐ máng。
I am not as busy as you are.

I expected this to be

"Wǒ bùrú nǐ máng."
Xièxiè nǐ

Dà wèi


Rosetta Stone always puts spaces between syllables so this is not uncommon. Also, note that Hanzi does not put spaces between words the way we do in English. So, I think Rosetta Stone is trying to get you used to not seeing Chinese grouped in words.

Rocket Chinese, and Google Translate, and other websites often do as you suggest. So, I don't think there is a rule, though each publisher should follow some sort of style guide (either do it or don't).

David K

Thanks for your response Robert, by my question is only about Rocket Chinese Lesson 1.7,  Take a look.  On the same page half the time they print "bùrú" As one word, and half the times as two.  Up until 1.7 it has consistently been one word.

But, if you combine Flashcards it is presented at least three times in this chapter at two words if memory serves me well. (I'm responding at midnight after a grueling day, so maybe a couple of these two word presentations is in an adjacent lesson.) 

So I was wondering if we were seeing some rule in operation metaphoriclly similar to   the two adjacent tone 3s causing the second to shift to tone. 2)

But, in any one lesson it should be presented consistently unless explained. 

By the way, I just bought the book "Chineasy" by  Shoalin that teaches 400 Mandarin characters using picture images that look like the characters as a memory heuristic device. 

Also, I bought the Tuttle Chinese Flashcards so I can match them up with this course.

I had done about  100 by hand on index cards but one of our three cats is getting jealous of the time I am spending on the computer so knock a cup of coffee n my index cards which soaked in over night.  So although I agreed with that one fellow who suggested we should do our own flashcards by hand for the good experience, I didn't want to do them twice.  I've been printing out the My Vocab notes one page at a time and cutting them out and gluing them on index cards but i have 46 pages - My Vocab ony puts about three per page and apparrently no glbal print all.


Rocket Languages should be consistent in whatever it does. They do try to form "word" by connecting Pinyin syllables. Rosetta Stone never connects them and writes each syllable separately. Most websites are like Rocket Chinese.

Consider this from lesson 1.7:
Wǒde hànyǔ bùrú nǐde hànyǔ bàng。
My Chinese is not as good as your Chinese.

Rosetta Stone displays this pinyin:

Wǒ de hàn yǔ bù rú nǐ de hàn yǔ bàng。

I like to keep the particles separate so I would write it this way:

Wǒ de hànyǔ bùrú nǐ de hànyǔ bàng。

Now, here is an online textbook that you might find useful:

Here is what they say about Pinyin conventions:

6 Writing connected text in pinyin

Unlike earlier systems of Chinese phonetic notation, some of which were intended as fully fledged auxiliary writing systems that could co-exist with (or even replace) characters, pinyin was intended as an adjunct to characters, used to indicate pronunciation and to provide a means for alphabetical ordering. For this reason, the rules and conventions for writing connected text in pinyin were not well defined at first. However increasing use of computers for the production of text and in everyday communication, as well as the proliferation of contact between China and the rest of the world has put a premium on the use of pinyin. Nowadays, in addition to its use in pedagogical materials such as this book, pinyin is used for emailing, for input in word processing, for url or email addresses, and to complement characters on advertisements, announcements, and menus, particularly those intended for an international audience in Chinese cities and abroad.

In 1988, the State Language Commission issued a document with the translated title of “The Basic Rules for Hanyu Pinyin Orthography,” and with a few minor exceptions, this textbook conforms to those proposed rules. [The ABC Chinese-English Dictionary, cited at the end of the Background chapter, contains a translation of this document as an appendix.] Only two general points will be mentioned here. First, normal punctuation practices hold. Sentences begin with capital letters, as do proper names; they end with periods, and other punctuation marks are used more or less as in English. Second, words, not syllables, are enclosed by spaces. Thus ‘teacher’ is written lǎoshī, not lǎo shī. Characters, by contrast, which always represent syllable-length units, are separated by a space regardless of word boundaries. Of course, defining what a word is can be problematical, but pinyin dictionaries or glossaries can be relied upon to make those decisions for us. Other conventions, such as the use of the hyphen, will be noted when needed. So when you write pinyin, it should look like this:

Gémìng bú shì qǐngkè chīfàn….
revolution not be invite-guests eat-meal
Revolution isn’t [like] inviting guests over for a meal….
Mao Zedong

Writing pinyin in this way makes it readable. And in fact, where emailing in characters is restricted by technical problems, pinyin can serve even without tone marks so long as the above orthographical conventions are observed: Geming bu shi qingke chifan…. 

David K

Thank you, Robert you are a most excellent teacher, and we are fortunate to have you hear to help us out with theses many questions.

I recommend to the Rocket  Team that they make up a new title or Badge beyond even Black Hero to say maybe "Most Honored Learning Ambassador."  Or perhaps, if growth continues they can hire you to proctor the Chinese course. It is very helpful to have someone to quickly settle these kinds of questions.

In that same vein, may I share what I think is a learning insight for me, to see if it is valid?

I've been doing the Chinese course for over two weeks now, but still need much more work on the tones, and other pronunciation subtleties my ears can hear but my tongue cannot yet match.

For the last three days I decided to redo the first lessons concentrating more on the tones.  The first and third tones are usually distinctive and I'm okay with them.

The second tone sometimes  seems sort of ambiguous and not distinctively rising dramatically in pitch as much as being longer than the forth tone which is most distinctive to me by it's  dramatic short staccato burst.  So then by process of elimination I"m figuring if it is not the 1, 3, or 4 tones and has a duration longer than the 4th tone generally does then it must be second.

From experience with other easier languages I know this is not the right way to recognize the second tone because any rule that long is not going to be possible to use in real-time conversation where one can not go back and think about the possibilities.

Sometimes I can hear a small rising of the pitch in Tone 2 but it is certainly not yet as distinctive as the other three yet,

Another issue with the tones that I'm at the "initial awareness of the issue" stage but not anywhere near proficiency is the difference in pitch changes between words or syllables versus changes during the word.  For example, Tone 4 is easy in this regard because in the examples so far Lin always starts at the highest pitch level and then dramatically and perhaps even slightly more loudly "sings' the first tone for a longer duration than the second tone or forth tone.

The third tone starts lower in pitch, drops and comes back up in a U "shape.

The charts shows the second tone starting lower and moving up which I sometimes hear, but I also hear differences in starting tone pitch that may either be random or following some other pattern I do not understand yet.  Perhaps resetting in preparation for an upcoming rise or fall?

So what do you think? Am I on the right track?

Oh, also with

I keep thinking I am hearing a soft "Qu" sound at the beginning not a simple "h;"

And then a pitch or tone drop for the ying.  Maybe even a volume (loudness) drop?
dà wèi


Regarding tones, the first tone is a high pitched "singing" tone, the second tone is rising and sounds like doubt, the third tone is mostly a low tone, and the fourth tone is a sharp, falling tone which should sound like you are angry at someone, like when you say "stop!!!".

The third tone is falling and rising only when said in isolation. When used with other syllables, it is a short low tone.

Rocket Chinese has a survival guide lesson on tones which you should take the time to listen to. Also, there are a lot of online resources and I recommend you watch one of Yongyang Cheng's (Yoyo Chinese) lessons on tones. Here is a link to her video about the third tone (which is actually problematic and misunderstood by many people):

She has lots of other video lessons on tones and Pinyin that you may want to watch. Her blog is here:

As for Huānyíng, there is no "qu" sound in it.

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