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Chinese measure words can be very overwhelming, especially for beginners, because there are so many of them that each require a different situation to use in. Here, I will give you some basic measure words that should help you at a beginner/intermediate level.
个 (gè) - this is a measure word that you will use the most; it is very common and can be used for almost anything. You can use this word for other measuring words you don’t know.
For example, 我有三个弟弟。(Wǒ yǒusān gè dìdì）I have three younger brothers.
你是一个好医生。(Nǐ shì yīgè hǎo yīshēng) You are a good doctor.
给我一个抱. (Gěi wǒ yīgè bào) Give me a hug.
两个苹果。(Liǎng gè píngguǒ) Two apples.
杯 (bēi) - this is a measure word used for literal measuring and amounts that pertain to the kitchen; it means cup.
For example, 给我一杯水。(Gěi wǒ yībēi shuǐ) Give me a cup/glass of water.
一杯面粉。(Yībēi miànfěn) One cup of flour.
棵 (kē) - this measure word is used specifically for plants like trees, flowers, etc.
For example, 我看见两棵树。(Wǒ kànjiàn liǎng kē shù) I saw two trees.
间 (jiān) - this word is used to describe the amounts of rooms like bedrooms, classrooms, hotel rooms, bathrooms. As you may have noticed, 间 is in 洗手间 which means bathroom (but directly translates to “room to wash hands”).
For example, 学校有三间教室。(Xuéxiào yǒusān jiān jiàoshì) The school has three classrooms.
张 (zhāng) - this is a word used to describe things that are flat such as papers, tickets, booklets, beds, surfaces of objects like tables, etc.
For example, 请给我一张纸。(Qǐng gěi wǒ yī zhāng zhǐ) Please give me a piece of paper.
我有两张票。(Wǒ yǒu liǎng zhāng piào) I have two tickets.
支 (zhī) - this is a measure word used to describe small, thin, long objects like pens, pencils, sticks, chopsticks, etc.
For example, 你有一支铅笔吗？(Nǐ yǒuyī zhī qiānbǐ ma) Do you have a pencil?
把 (Bǎ) - use this word to describe small object you can hold in your hand (like knives, phones, hand mirrors, keys, rings, nail clippers, etc).
For example, 我有三把钥匙。(Wǒ yǒusān bǎ yàoshi) I have three keys.
辆 (liàng) - this is used to describe the amount of cars, bikes, buses, scooters, etc.
For example, 我有一辆车。(Wǒ yǒuyī liàng chē) I have one car.
列 (liè) - this is used to describe trains (unlike 辆).
For example, 我坐两列火车. (Wǒ zuò liǎng liè huǒchē) I ride/take two trains.
名 (míng) - this is used to describe people with high-end titles and positions like doctors, lawyers, presidents, managers, police, etc.
For example, 医院有三名医生。(Yīyuàn yǒusān míng yīshēng) The hospital has three doctors.
所 (Suǒ) - this describes the number of buildings. You can also use 栋。
For example, 镇有十所建筑物。(Zhèn yǒu shí suǒ jiànzhú wù) The town has ten buildings.
顿 (dùn) - describes the number of meals
For example, 我每天吃三顿饭. (Wǒ měitiān chī sān dùn fàn) I eat three meals a day.
This is where things get tricky - these next two words can describe pairs of things:
双 (shuāng) - you use this word when you are talking about a pair or multiple pairs of things.
For example, 我有两双鞋. (Wǒ yǒu liǎng shuāng xié) I have two pairs of shoes.
我的家人用两双筷子。(Wǒ de jiārén yòng liǎng shuāng kuàizi) My family uses/needs two pairs of chopsticks.
只 (zhī) - this measuring word is used to describe the amount of animals or the number of body parts.
For example, 我的姐姐有两只猫。(Wǒ de jiějiě yǒu liǎng zhī māo) My older sister has two cats.
我有两只手。(Wǒ yǒu liǎng zhī shǒu) I have two hands.
As you can see, 只 is usually used to describe pairs of things or things that are supposed to be in a pair.
For example，一只鞋。(Yī zhǐ xié) One shoe.
Practice: How many bedrooms are in your house? How many trees are in your backyard? How many pairs of socks do you have?
I will be making a masterlist of measure words soon ♡
Thank you for studying Chinese! Keep going - 加油
♡ I hope I can always help you answer more questions about China, Chinese culture, and Chinese language ♡
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