Measure word

Also known as: 量词 (liàngcí) and classifier.

Measure words are used together with numerals to indicate the quantity of a noun, and sometimes even of an action. The general term for "measure word" in linguistics is "classifier," because measure words involve some kind of classification of the noun (or action) being counted.


  • Measure words can be reduplicated to act as a sentence element. This has the meaning of 'every'.
  • Used after numerals or demonstrative pronouns.
  • If the number is just one, it can be omitted; just the measure word is OK.
  • 半 before measure word means "half of." 半 after measure word means .".. and a half"
  • 多 and measure words
    • 多 in between numeral and measure word e.g. 十多个 means more than the number given but less than the next whole number. Like 'odd' in English e.g. "thirty-odd."
    • 多 after the measure word simply means more than the number given
  • Most measure words are single characters, but not all (need list of two-character measure words)


Noun measure words


    • 一个面包
    • 两个会议
    • 三个人
    • 四个苹果
    • 五个办法
    • 六个词
    • 一只小狗
    • 两只鸡
    • 三只鞋子
    • 四只船
    • 一块肉
    • 两块蛋糕
    • 三块钱
    • 四块香皂
    • 一台电视
    • 两台电脑
    • 一条鱼
    • 两条腿
    • 三条路
    • 一辆公交车
    • 两辆地铁
    • 三辆自行车
    • 一根香肠
    • 两根香蕉
    • 一头猪
    • 两头牛


  • 我 有 一 小 狗。I have one small dog.
  • 我 给 了 小 狗 一 面包。I gave the small dog one and a half pieces of bread.
  • 小狗 吃 了 香肠。The small dog ate half of a sausage.
  • 冰箱 里 只 有 两 奶酪。There are only two pieces of cheese in the refrigerator.
  • 我 很 饿,吃 了 很 大 一 鱼。I'm hungry. I could eat a whole fish.
  • 我 看到 一 红色 的 法拉利。I saw a red Ferrari.

Verb measure words



  • 请 你 再 说 一 Please say it one more time.
  • 我 到 上海 两 了。 I've come to Shanghai two times.
  • 一 个 晚上 去 了 三 厕所。I went to the bathroom three times in one evening.
  • 今天 有 两 比赛。There are two games today.

Monetary measure words



  • 每天 给 孩子 一 钱。Give the children one kuai every day.
  • 你 应该 再 给 我 两 You should give me two yuan again.
  • 我 给 你 10元,你 应该 找 我 5 I gave you ten yuan, you should give me 5 five jiao in change.

Sources and further reading