Chinese (Mandarin)/Traditional/Lesson 5

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Subpages: Simplified - Exercises - Stroke Order

Lesson 5: Measure words


Measure Words/量詞(liang4ci2)

In Chinese, most specified or numbered nouns must be preceded by measure words according to the type of object. It is like the English use of “pair” in the phrase “two pairs of pants”. Like the word “pair,” Chinese measure words are placed between the noun and the preceding number or demonstrative pronoun.

1. 這本書裡沒有一個漢字。

Zhè bĕn shū lǐ méi yǒu yí gè Hànzì.
This book doesn’t contain one Chinese character.

2. 那間宿舍裡有六十個學生。

Nà jiān sùshè lǐ yǒu liùshí ge xuésheng.
That dorm has sixty students.

Some Common Measure Words

Character Pinyin Main uses Example
個 (个) ge (gè) individual things, people — usage of this classifier in conjunction with any noun is generally accepted if the person does not know the proper classifier. 一個書包 yí gè shū bāo
general classifier
"handful" — objects that can be held (knives, keys; also chairs) 一把刀 yì bă dāo. One knife. (The official measure word for scissors is "把", however, many Chinese use "个" when speaking. In written Chinese however, people usually revert to "把".)
bāo "package", "bundle"
bēi "cup" — drinks
běn "volume" — bound print matter (books, etc.)
() volumes of books
"time" — opportunities, accidents
"droplet" water, blood, and other such fluids
點 (点) diǎn ideas, suggestions, can also mean "a bit"
duǒ flowers, clouds 一朵花 yì duŏ huā. One flower.
gēn thin, slender objects (needles, pillars, etc.)
jiā gathering of people (families, companies, etc.)
jiàn matters, clothing, etc. 一件衣服 yí jiàn yī fù
節 (节) jié "section" — of bamboo, classes, etc.
kǒu people in a family, population of a place
輛 (辆) liàng automobiles, bicycles, etc. 一輛車 yí liàng chē. One car.
miàn flat and smooth objects (mirrors, flags, etc.)
horses and other mounts, rolls/bolts of cloth 一匹馬 yì pǐ mă. One horse.
piàn "slice" — flat objects, cards, slices of bread, etc.
píng "bottle" — drinks
sōu ships 一艘船 yì sōu chuán. One boat.
suǒ buildings 一所學校 yi suo3 she2 siao4
() tái heavy objects (TVs, computers, etc.) and performances (theatre, etc.) 一臺電視 yi tai2 dien4 si4
條 (条) tiáo long, narrow, flexible objects (fish, trousers, etc.) 一條魚 yì tiáo yú. One fish.
頭 (头) tóu "head" — certain animals (pigs, cows, etc.), hair 一頭牛 yì tóu niú. One head of cattle.
wèi polite classifier for people
張 (张) zhāng "sheet" — flat objects (paper, tables, etc.), faces, bows, paintings, tickets, constellations 一張紙 yì zhāng zhĭ. One piece of paper.
zhī stick-like objects (pens, chopsticks, etc.)
隻 (只) zhī one of a pair, animals (birds, cats, etc.) 一只狗 yì zhī gŏu. One dog.
種 (种) zhǒng types or kinds of objects

A more complete reference list of Chinese measure words can be found in the Wikipedia.

Lessons: Main - Pron. - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8
Subpages: Simplified - Exercises - Stroke Order