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"Er" and "liang"

Chinese-grammar-wiki-liang.jpg

In Chinese, there are two words for "two." This is an introduction to the different uses of "2" in Chinese, namely 二 (èr) and 两 (liǎng).

Uses of 二 (èr)

二 is used in numbers

The digit 2 is 二 (èr). This is used generally in numbers, when counting to ten, giving out a phone number, and so on.

Unlike 两 (liǎng), 二 (èr) does not generally occur with measure words by itself. Numbers like 十二 (12) (shí'èr) and 二十二 (22) (èrshí'èr) end with a "2" and can still be combined with measure words. In this case, 两 (liǎng) is not needed.

Examples

Here are some common examples of 二 (èr) in action:

  • Dì-èr#2; second
  • Dì-èrthe second one
  • Dì-èrthe second time
  • èr hào#2; the second (of the month)
  • 号 线 èr hào xiànLine 2 (of the metro)
  • èr lóusecond floor
  • èrshí20
  • 十 块 钱 èrshí kuài qián20 RMB
  • èrshí-èr22
  • 个 人 èrshí-èr ge réntwenty-two people
  • (note: 两百 is also acceptable.)èrbǎi200

Uses of 两 (liǎng)

两 is used with measure words

When specifying quantities (and using measure words to do it), 两 (liǎng) is used. This is when you want to say "two of something or "both".

Here are some common examples of 两 (liǎng) in action:

Examples

  • 个 人 liǎng ge réntwo people
  • 个 小时 liǎng ge xiǎoshítwo hours
  • 分钟 liǎng fēnzhōngtwo minutes
  • liǎng miǎotwo seconds
  • liǎng diǎn(Think of it as "two points on the clock," which is a quantity)2 o'clock
  • liǎng tiāntwo days
  • 个 星期 liǎng ge xīngqītwo weeks
  • 个 月 liǎng ge yuètwo months
  • liǎng niántwo years
  • liǎngtwo times / twice
  • 块 钱 liǎng kuài qián2 kuai / 2 RMB
  • liǎng bǎi(note: 二百 is also acceptable.) 200
  • liǎng qiān2,000
  • liǎng wàn20,000
  • 他们 个 人 一 起 走 。 Tā men liǎng ge rén yīqǐ zǒu. The two of them walk together.
  • 个 都 要 。 liǎng ge dōu yào.I want both of them.

Sources and further reading