Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Measure words in Chinese language

I know I have already used this video before. I am going to use it again, but this time for a different reason.

Other than the body parts what else did you notice? Yes, the measure words. (gè) (zhǐ) (zhāng) (tiáo) (dǐng) are all measure words. Measure words are used in the Chinese language when using numbers to quantify people or things. Numbers cannot be directly attached to nouns. They take the following structure:

Number + Measure Word + Noun

The most widely used measure word is (gè), and it is most commonly used to quantify people:

一个人 (yī gè rén): one person

两个朋友 (liǎng gè péngyǒu): two friends

三个老师 (sān gè lǎoshī): three teachers

(gè) however is not only used to quantify people, it is also used to quantify other objects. Few examples:

一个土豆 (yī gè tǔdòu): a potato

五个汉字 (wǔ gè hànzì): five Chinese characters

六个大学 (liù gè dàxué): six universities

两个地方 (liǎng gè dìfāng): two places

This post is a brief introduction of measure words. I will be writing more posts in the future introducing new measure words and how to use them.


  1. I quite like this YouTube Vid. it is a pity there aren't more in Chinese from the same company. All the others seem to be in French.

    BTW I have had a look at some of your other posts. I like your very simple explanations for Chinese.

    Cheers Jono

  2. Yes I was thinking the same too. All other videos are in other languages.

    And thanks for your kind words.

  3. Hi, I like your blog very much, but the youtube clip on measure word has a mistake, when it shows 2 potatos, should be 4 arms but she sings 2 arms. I am Chinese teacher. Any question you can e-mail me @

    Fanny Lee