- 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
- 我 有 一 只 小 狗。I have one small dog.
- 我 给 了 小 狗 一 个 半 面包。I gave the small dog one and a half pieces of bread.
- 小狗 吃 了 半 根 香肠。The small dog ate half of a sausage.
- 冰箱 里 只 有 两 块 奶酪。There are only two pieces of cheese in the refrigerator.
- 我 很 饿，吃 了 很 大 一 条 鱼。I'm hungry. I could eat a whole fish.
- 我 看到 一 辆 红色 的 法拉利。I saw a red Ferrari.
Verb measure words
- 请 你 再 说 一 遍。Please say it one more time.
- 我 到 上海 两 次 了。 I've come to Shanghai two times.
- 一 个 晚上 去 了 三 趟 厕所。I went to the bathroom three times in one evening.
- 今天 有 两 场 比赛。There are two games today.
Monetary measure words
- 每天 给 孩子 一 块 钱。Give the children one kuai every day.
- 你 应该 再 给 我 两 元 。 You should give me two yuan again.
- 我 给 你 10元，你 应该 找 我 5 角 。I gave you ten yuan, you should give me 5 five jiao in change.
Sources and further reading
- A Practical Chinese Grammar For Foreigners (外国人实用汉语语法) (pp. 73-95) →buy
- Chinese: An Essential Grammar, Second Edition (pp. 18) →buy
- Chinese Grammar Without Tears (简明汉语语法学习手册) (pp. 198-208) →buy
- Mandarin Chinese: A Functional Reference Grammar (pp. 28-85) →buy
- Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar: A Practical Guide (pp. 43-8) →buy
- Practicing HSK Grammar (语法精讲精炼) (pp. 1-30) →buy
- Wikipedia: Chinese classifier
- 3000 Hànzì: Chinese Measure Words (Classifiers)
- dhcca.org: 量词 (一)
- Chinesegrammar.info - blog for Chinese grammar: The difference between 半 (bàn), 一半 (yí bàn) and 一个半 (yí ge bàn) in Chinese grammar