Learn Measure Words in Chinese

Posted by Fifi Yang on Mar 21, 2016

Chinese meausre words

Look at the following phrases. Do you see any differences between English and Chinese?

A student 一个学生 yí ɡè xué shenɡ

A desk 一张桌子 yì zhānɡ zhuō zi

A tree 一棵树 yì kē shù

A cat 一只猫 yì zhī māo

I think you already found it: the"measure" words. There are a variety of measures in Chinese. In English, it is number+noun; while in Chinese, it is number+measure word+noun. How to remember the complicated measure words in Chinese is also a big problem for many Chinese-language learners. Today, we will tell you how to memorize Chinese measures by their six categories.

1. 个 ɡè

If you are just starting to learn Chinese, "个" is probably an easy word for you. It is the most commonly used measure word in Chinese and can describe a person or a thing. If you don't know which one to use, just use "个." Even if it is not the correct measure word for the situation, Chinese people will still understand what you mean. Here are some examples:

A people 一个人 yí ɡè rén

A thing 一个东西 yí ɡè dōnɡ xi

A friend 一个朋友 yí ɡè pénɡ you

An hour 一个小时 yí ɡè xiǎo shí

2. 张 zhānɡ

This measure word is usually encountered in combination with something flat, used with surfaces, and with something horizontal. It also can be used to describe some furniture. Here are some examples:

A piece of paper 一张纸 yì zhānɡ zhǐ

A bed 一张床 yì zhānɡ chuánɡ

A chair 一张椅子 yì zhānɡ yǐ zi

A picture 一张照片 yì zhānɡ zhào piàn

3. 双 shuānɡ

"双" is usually used for pairs of something. It is equal to "a pair of" in English. Here are some examples:

A pair of shoes 一双鞋 yì shuānɡ xié

A pair of eyes 一双眼睛 yì shuānɡ yǎn jinɡ

4. 件 jiàn

"件" is usually used for any kind of clothing. It is also can be used when referring to a situation or matter (example: "a matter of concern"). Here are some examples:

A coat 一件外套 yí jiàn wài tào

A sweater 一件毛衣 yí jiàn máo yī

A matter 一件事情 yí jiàn shì qínɡ

5. 辆 liànɡ

"辆" can be used for any kind of vehicle with wheels. Here are the examples:

A bicycle 一辆自行车 yí liànɡ zì xínɡ chē

A car 一辆汽车 yí liànɡ qì chē

A tank 一辆坦克 yí liànɡ tǎn kè

6. 只 zhī

"只" can be used for some types of animals, for example:

A cat 一只猫 yì zhī māo

A dog 一只狗 yì zhī ɡǒu

A panda 一只熊猫 yì zhī xiónɡ māo

Here is a chart of more measure words in Chinese to help you better remember the many:

Chinese meausre words

Do you want to learn more measure words in Chinese? Let our teacher tell you more by taking a free trial lesson.

About The Author

Fifi Yang

Fifi Yang is a Chinese learning teacher at Hanbridge Mandarin. Having spent a great number of years learning French, Fifi understands the challenges of learning a language. She puts this experience to good use while preparing and delivering classes to her students.

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