How to Use "二" and "两"

Posted by Lilian Li on July 12, 2017

how to use er and liang

“两”and “二” are numerals that denote numbers, and they refer to the same number-“2”.However, the usage is not exactly the same. In daily communication, you often hear people who can't tell the difference between“两”and “二”. Today we are going to learn the usage of them.

The meaning of “两”and “二”

1.the basic meaning of “二”

1)The number of nouns-2: 1+1=2 (in the notes and documents, commonly used in the capital "II" generation).eg. 一百零二(102);贰(2)

2)pairs:独一无二(the only one)

3)others:二话不说(Without demur);不二价(one-price)

2.the basic meaning of“两”

1)The number of nouns-2:Generally used before measure word and “个(unit)、半(half)、千(thousand)、万(ten thousand)、亿(billion)”.eg.两本书(twobooks);两个杯子(two cups);分成两半(Divided into two halves);两千块(two thousand rmb)

2)both sides:马路两边(Both sides of the road)

3)Weight-50grams:四两饺子(200 grams of dumplings)

4)Indicates an indefinite number:有两下子(have real skill)

The difference between“两”and “二”

1. when read as numbers or in mathematics, we use “二”insteadof “两”. Eg.这是二不是三。(this is two, not three)

2. Ordinal numbers, decimals and fractions are used in “二”instead of “两”. Eg.第二(second); 三点二(three point two); 五分之二(Two-fifths)

3. In the general quantifier, we use “二” in the number of digits Eg.两杯咖啡(two cups of coffee);and we use “两”in the number of digits. Eg.十二个苹果(twelve apples)

4. In the traditional units of weights and measures, both of them can be used.eg. 二(两)亩地(two acres of land). But pay attention to a special one-两(50 grams), you need to use 二 only. Eg. 二两米饭(100 grams of rice).

5. In the multi-digit, we use“二” in hundred ,ten but we use “两” in thousand and million and billion.eg. 二十(20), 二百(200), 两千(2000). However,we need use “二” if it is not in the first place.eg. 三百二十(320);两千零2(2002)

Can you distinguish them now?

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About The Author

Lilian Li

Lilian has a master’s degree in linguistics and didactics from Rennes University in France. An expert in linguistics and educational psychology, she has taught Chinese as a foreign language for several years, primarily in France. Her classes follow a logical and thorough path to ensure students build a methodology of learning that will continue to help them improve their language ability. She likes jogging, swimming, partying, and hang out with friends!

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