"Er" and "liang"

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Level A1
Is similar to
Is used for Expressing quantity
Keywords ,
Translations two

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.

A good rule is that if a measure word is used, use 两(liǎng). 二 (èr) does not generally occur with measure words by itself. Although numbers like 十二 (12) and 二十二 (22) end with a "2," they can still combine directly with measure words (no 两 needed).

Examples

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

  • 第 二 #2; second
  • 第 二 个 the second one
  • 第 二 次 the second time
  • 二 号 #2; the second (of the month)
  • 二 号 线 Line 2 (of the metro)
  • 二 楼 second floor
  • 二 十 20
  • 二 十 块 钱 20 RMB
  • 二 十 二 22
  • 二 十 二 个 人 twenty-two people
  • 二 百 (note: 两百 is also acceptable.) 200

Uses of 两 (liǎng)

两 is used with measure word

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

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

Examples

  • 两 个 人 two people
  • 两 个 小时 two hours
  • 两 分钟 two minutes
  • 两 秒 two seconds
  • 两 点 (Think of it as "two points on the clock," which is a quantity)2 o'clock
  • 两 天 two days
  • 两 个 星期 two weeks
  • 两 个 月 two months
  • 两 年 two years
  • 两 次 two times / twice
  • 两 块 钱 2 kuai / 2 RMB
  • 两 百 (note: 二百 is also acceptable.) 200
  • 两 千 2,000
  • 两 万 20,000

Sources and further reading