Ep01: Hello! | Lí-hó 你好!

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Bite-size Taiwanese | Newbie
Ep01: Hello! | Lí-hó 你好!

In this episode, we’ve learned three ways to greet people in Taiwanese.

These show notes use tables and rich formatting. Please visit the episode webpage for an optimal viewing experience.

hó! Hello!
Gâu-tsá! Good morning!
Ta̍k-ke hó! Hello, everyone!

*Syllables that require tone changes have been greyed out.

Listen to the audio and focus on the melody (“tones”) of the entire phrase because Taiwanese is a tonal language!

Now try to see if you can remember the melody of the phrase without the audio, and then play it again to check if you’ve got it right!

You can also say:

Ta̍k-ke gâu-tsá!
Good morning, everyone!

These are common greetings that can be used in most general and formal situations such as with strangers, shopkeepers, neighbors and acquaintances. “Gâu-tsá!” is also commonly used between friends. Next time you meet a Taiwanese-speaking person, try to greet them with a warm “ hó! or “Gâu-tsá!”.   


ta̍k-ke everyone
gâu capable, skilled at
tsá early

PRONUNCIATION | Taiwanese tones

In this episode, we’ve mentioned that Taiwanese is a tonal language. Every syllable in Taiwanese has a tone, just like English words have stress. Think about “des-SERT” and “DE-sert”, or “re-CORD” and “RE-cord”, and how moving the stress around may change the meaning. What is slightly different is that each tone has its specific pitch range (high, mid or low) and contour/movement (flat, rising or falling).

The diacritics on top of the vowels indicate the tone of a word. There are a total of seven tones in Taiwanese -- that’s why Taiwanese is very melodic, just like singing!

We’ve also briefly mentioned that when more syllables are combined together, their tones may change. This whole thing may sound intimidating at the beginning but don’t worry, we will talk more about the basic rules and guide you through them later on.

In order to help you pick up Taiwanese tones, tone changes and the diacritic marks, we highlight the words whose tones remained unchanged with a bold font. Usually it’s the last syllable of a phrase.



Ta̍k-ke hó!

Listen to the audio again and pay special attention to those syllables in bold font and try to match the tone markings with what you hear.


As we see here, and tsá have the same diacritic mark and they both sound like falling from a high pitch, such as when you are saying “Hey, You!” This High Falling Tone is conventionally categorized as Tone 2.

We encourage you to listen to the audio a few more times and try to grasp the high falling quality of Tone 2.

If you want to know what tones the other syllables have changed to, we’ve marked them for you in our downloadable workbook. You'll also find additional vocabulary with characters, pronunciation notes, grammar explanations, culture tips, and fun exercises to help your practice. Go check it out!

Music Credit: TeknoAXE

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