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Approximating with sequential numbers

Expressing approximate numbers in Chinese is quite simple, and this article introduces one of the most basic ways to do so.

Structure

An easy way to express approximate numbers is to use two sequential numbers in a row.

Number + (Number + 1)

This is similar to saying "x or y" or "about x" in English.

Examples

  • 一 两yī liǎng tiānone or two days
  • 三 四 个 人 sān sì gè rénthree or four people
  • 老板 昨天 喝 了七 八 瓶 胡萝卜 汁 。 Lǎobǎn zuótiān hē le qī bā píng húluóbo zhī.The boss drank 7 or 8 bottles of carrot juice yesterday.
  • 这 个 词 我们 学 过 两 三 次 了 。 Zhège cí wǒmen xué guo liǎng sān cì le.We've studied this word two or three times now.
  • 我 等 了 你 三 四 个 小时。 Wǒ děng le nǐ sān sì gè xiǎoshí.I waited for you for three or four hours.
  • 他们 七 八 年 没 见面 了 。 Tāmen qī bā nián méi jiànmiàn le.They haven't seen each other for seven or eight years.
  • 要 做 完 这 个 工作 需要 一 两 个 月 。 Yào zuò wán zhège gōngzuò xūyào yī liǎng gè yuè.To complete this work, you need one to two months.
  • 他们 家 的 孩子五 六 岁 了 吧 。 Tāmen jiā de háizi wǔ liù suì le ba.Their child is about five or six years old.
  • 这 件 衣服 只 要 七 八 十 块 钱 。 Zhè jiàn yīfu zhǐ yào qī bā shí kuài qián.This clothing only costs seventy to eighty kuai.
  • 这 几 本 书 花 了 我 两 三 百Zhè jǐ běn shū huā le wǒ liǎng sān bǎi.These few books cost me two or three hundred kuai.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books