It is quite difficult for learners of Modern Standard Chinese (Putonghua) to master all the sounds and the four tones and to successfully adjust the relations between the tones and sentence intonation. It may seem unreasonable to also require them to learn more about word and sentence stresses and pauses, subtleties which most people think are needed only to become an announcer. It is true that compared with the pronunciation of vowels and consonants, the study of intonation seems secondary. However, this does not mean that learners must wait to study intonation until they have mastered the fundamentals. On the contrary, reading and reciting should be taught from the early stage, along with the pronunciation of words and sentences, not by teaching the rules of intonation (which the teachers should know), but through practice.
This article describes the prosodic state of tones in different positions of sentences, and how they are influenced by the positions, and also the role they play. The graphs of pitch patterns, power and duration of words may help people to ‘see’ the prosodic characteristics.