In Mandarin grammar, the character 掉 (diào) is used as a complement of a verb to indicate either an elimination, falling, or loss of some kind. It was the hanzi that once was something either really great or really bad, but is now only a shadow of what it once was. It's also extremely easy to remember which tone diào is, because the tone is...falling. Why is this easy? Simply because by itself, it can also have the meaning of "to fall" or "to drop". It is similar to the verb 倒 (dăo), which will be discussed later.

The easiest way to learn about 掉 (diào) is perhaps by taking a look at some of the verb combinations it forms
Compounds that use 掉 (diào)
diào xiàn
to get disconnected from the internet
gānggang yòu diàoxiàn le
I just lost the internet signal again
huài diào
to become spoiled or ruined owing to long use
wǒ diànnǎo de yìngpán huàidiào le
The hard drive on my computer broke/bit the dust (owing to long use)
wàng diào
to have forgotten (but known at one time)
xiànzài wǒ jiù wàngdiào nèi jù huà shì shénme yìsi
Now I've forgotten what that phrase means

The meaning usually has something to do with getting rid of something that was, or currently exists. This could mean tangible things, or the gradual breaking down of something. Thus, an important trait of "掉" is that it implies a gradual movement from something full to empty, in various degrees.

More Compounds with 掉 (diào)
wàng diào
to throw away
qù diào
to remove pesky things (unwanted ads, ugly marks)
tì diào
to shave off facial hair (implies most or all of it)
tiào diào
(computing)- to crash unexpectedly
shuǎi diào
to dump, get rid of (people)
yíng diào
to dethrone, to overcome, to come from behind and defeat
cā diào
to erase, to wipe off(people)

In addition to 掉 (diào), there are other motion complements such as 起来 (qǐ lái) and 下来 (xià lái), which we will cover in other lessons.

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