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Using "ji" to mean "several"

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One of the definitions of the common character 几 (jǐ) is "several," "a couple" or "a few." It's an uncertain number that is at least more than one, and probably less than five, but definitely less than ten.

几 (jǐ) as "a Few"

The simplest way to use 几 (jǐ) to mean "a few" is to use it directly with a measure word.

Structure

几 + Measure Word + Noun

Examples

  • 桌子 上 有 本 书。Zhuōzi shàng yǒu běn shū.There are a few books on the table.
  • 只有 个 人 去 过 那 个 地方。Zhǐyǒu gè rén qù guo nàge dìfang.Only a few people have been to that place.
  • 从 上海 到 东京 坐 飞机 只 要 个 小时。Cóng Shànghǎi dào Dōngjīng zuò fēijī zhǐ yào gè xiǎoshí.Flying from Shanghai to Tokyo only takes a few hours.
  • 我 每 天 都 要 喝 杯 咖啡。Wǒ měi tiān dōu yào hē bēi kāfēi.Every day I have to drink a couple cups of coffee.
  • 老板 今天 开 了 个 重要 的 会。Lǎobǎn jīntiān kāi le gè zhòngyào de huì.The boss had a few important meetings today.

几 (jǐ) as "a Few Tens"

It is similar to how in English we can say, "a few dozen" or "a couple dozen," though in this case instead of "twelves of something" we are saying "tens of something."

Structure

几 + 十 + Measure Word + Noun

Examples

  • 他 只 想 学 几 十 个 汉字。"Dozens" is the closest we can get in natural English to the Chinese, which literally means "tens."Tā zhǐ xiǎng xué jǐ shí gè Hànzì.He only wants to study a few dozen Chinese characters.
  • 我们 公司 有 几 十 个 员工。Wǒmen gōngsī yǒu jǐ shí gè yuángōng.Our company has a few dozen employees.
  • 他 写 过 几 十 本 书,我 都 喜欢。Tā xiě guo jǐ shí běn shū, wǒ dōu xǐhuan.He wrote a few dozen books. I like them all.
  • 这个 年轻的 演员 演 了 几 十 部 电影。我都喜欢。Zhège niánqīng de yǎnyuán yǎn le jǐ shí bù diànyǐng. Wǒ dōu xǐhuan.This young actor has acted in dozens of movies. I like them all.
  • 老板 在 国外 有 几 十 套 房子。Lǎobǎn zài guówài yǒu jǐ shí tào fángzi.The boss has a few dozen houses abroad.

几 (jǐ) as "a Few Hundred / Thousand / Ten Thousand"

In Chinese we can put 几 (jǐ) together with 百 (bǎi), 千 (qiān), or 万 (wàn), just like how in English we might say, "a few hundred" or a "few thousand."

Structure

几 + 百 / 千 / 万 + Measure Word + Noun

Examples

  • 妈妈 每 个 月 都 给 我 几 百 块 钱。Māma měi gè yuè dōu gěi wǒ jǐ bǎi kuài qián.Mom gives me a couple hundred dollars every month.
  • 这 个 月 我们 卖 了 几 千 本 书。Zhège yuè wǒmen mài le jǐ qiān běn shū.We sold a couple thousand books this month.
  • 几 百 家 外国 公司 参加 了 这个 大会。Jǐ bǎi jiā wàiguó gōngsī cānjiā le zhège dàhuì.Several hundred foreign companies attended this conference.
  • 这 篇 文章 有 几 万 个 字,太 长 了。Zhè piān wénzhāng yǒu jǐ wàn gè zì, tài cháng le.This article has tens of thousands of characters. It's too long.
  • 我 认识 一 个 朋友,她 有 几 百 双 鞋。Wǒ rènshi yī gè péngyou, tā yǒu jǐ bǎi shuāng xié.I have a friend that has a couple hundred pairs of shoes.

好几 (hǎojǐ) as "Quite a Few"

You can think of 好几 (hǎojǐ) as meaning "quite a few," usually in the range of five to ten.

Structure

好几 + Measure Word + Noun

Examples

  • 他 读 了 好几 遍 。Tā dú le hǎojǐ biàn.He's read quite a few times.
  • 我 有 好几 个 室友 。Wǒ yǒu hǎojǐ gè shìyǒu.I have quite a few roommates.
  • 我 奶奶 有 好几 个 孩子 。Wǒ nǎinai yǒu hǎojǐ gè háizi.My grandma has quite a few children.
  • 他 吃 了 好几 碗 米饭 。Tā chī le hǎojǐ wǎn mǐfàn.He ate quite a few bowls of rice.
  • 我们 去 过 好几 次 北京 。Wǒmen qù guo hǎojǐ cì Běijīng.We've been to Beijing quite a few times.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books

Dictionaries