Using "ji" to mean "several"
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.
- 1 几 (jǐ) as "a Few"
- 2 几 (jǐ) as "a Few Tens"
- 3 几 (jǐ) as "a Few Hundred / Thousand / Ten Thousand"
- 4 好几 (hǎojǐ) as "Quite a Few"
- 5 See also
- 6 Sources and further reading
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.
几 + Measure Word + Noun
- 桌子 上 有 几 本 书。There are a few books on the table.
- 只有 几 个 人 去 过 那 个 地方。Only a few people have been to that place.
- 从 上海 到 东京 坐 飞机 只 要 几 个 小时。Flying from Shanghai to Tokyo only takes a few hours.
- 我 每 天 都 要 喝 几 杯 咖啡。Every day I have to drink a couple cups of coffee.
- 老板 今天 开 了 几 个 重要 的 会。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."
几 + 十 + Measure Word + Noun
- 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."He only wants to study a few dozen Chinese characters.
- 我们 公司 有 几 十 个 员工。Our company has a few dozen employees.
- 他 写 过 几 十 本 书，我 都 喜欢。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。This young actor has acted in dozens of movies. I like them all.
- 老板 在 国外 有 几 十 套 房子。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."
几 + 百 / 千 / 万 + Measure Word + Noun
- 妈妈 每 个 月 都 给 我 几 百 块 钱。Mom gives me a couple hundred dollars every month.
- 这 个 月 我们 卖 了 几 千 本 书。We sold a couple thousand books this month.
- 几 百 家 外国 公司 参加 了 这个 大会。Several hundred foreign companies attended this conference.
- 这 篇 文章 有 几 万 个 字，太 长 了。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。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.
好几 + Measure Word + Noun
- 他 读 了 好几 遍 。He's read quite a few times.
- 我 有 好几 个 室友 。I have quite a few roommates.
- 我 奶奶 有 好几 个 孩子 。My grandma has quite a few children.
- 他 吃 了 好几 碗 米饭 。He ate quite a few bowls of rice.
- 我们 去 过 好几 次 北京 。We've been to Beijing quite a few times.
Sources and further reading
- 现代汉语词典（第5版） (p. 641) →buy