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Usages of measure words in Chinese


A measure word or a classifier is a type of Chinese word used to count or measure nouns. They are used between a number/specifier and a noun. Different measure words are used with different nouns. If it is clear from the context, the noun can be omitted.

Some nouns are also measure words, such as those that define quantity, shape, or size. These nouns serve as their own measure words, or as measure words for other nouns. A measure word is always necessary when a noun is modified by a numeral or a demonstrative.

个 is most common of the measures and can be used with virtually any noun, if you are not certain which measure word to use, you can use 个.

List of Chinese Measure words

People & Animals

人 rén: People

个 gè: individual – a measure word for general use,classifier for people or objects in general

一个人 a man, a woman

位 wèi: classifier for people (honorific) – used with formal nouns

名 míng: classifier for people

家庭: About family

家 jiā: classifier for families or businesses

一家人 a whole family

口 kǒu: Classifier for things with mouths (people, animals)


Animals 动物

只 zhī: classifier for birds and certain animals and insects, one of a pair (one shoe etc), some utensils, vessels etc.

一只猫 a cat

一只骆驼 a camel

一只老鼠 a mouse

匹 pǐ: classifier for horses, mules etc

一匹马 a horse

头 tóu: classifier for pigs or livestock – also means; head, hair style, the top, side, aspect

一头牛 a cow

一头猪 a pig

一头大象 an elephant

条 tiáo: Classifier for long thin things (snakes, ribbons, rope, river, road, clothes etc)

一条狗 a dog

一条狗 a dog

一条鱼 a fish

一条绳子 a piece of cord/rope

群 qún: Classifier for Crowd/flock/group of people or animals

一群狼 a pack of wolves

一群羊 a flock of sheep

一群人 rén a crowd of people

Pairs & Shapes


双shuāng / 对duì: classifier for pairs, two, double.

一双筷子 a pair of chopsticks.

一对夫妇 Yī duì fūfù (husband and wife – married couple)

一对鸳鸯 yī duì yuānyāng (affectionette couple – Mandarin ducks)

Words which usually use "pair" in English have their own measure word in Chinese

一把剪刀 Yī bǎ jiǎndāo  –  a pair of scissors

一条裤子 yītiáo kùzi &nbsp

Shape 形状

支 zhī: classifier for rods such as pens and guns, for army divisions and for songs or compositions

一支毛笔 a/one writing brush

根 gēn: classifier for long slender objects, e.g. Cigarettes, guitar strings

一根火柴 Yī gēn huǒchái (match)

张zhāng: classifier for flat objects, sheet (of paper etc, classifier for votes)

一张脸 a face

一张嘴 a mouth

粒 lì: classifier for small round things (peas, bullets, peanuts, pills, grains etc)

一粒沙 Yī lì shā: a grain of sand

一粒米 yī lì mǐ: a grain of rice

Vehicles 交通工具

辆 liàng: classifier for vehicles

一辆汽车 a car

架 jià: classifier for large vehicles

一架飞机 a plane

台 tái: classifier for vehicles or machines

一台电脑 a computer

艘 sōu/只 zhī 条tiáo/船 chuán:  classifier for boat/ship

一艘轮船 a ship

列 liè: Classifier for rows, series of things in a line

一列火车 a train

In the home

所 suǒ: classifier for houses, small buildings, institutions etc

座 zuò: classifier for buildings, mountains and similar immovable objects (big houses)

幢 chuáng: classifier for houses

栋 dòng: classifier for houses or buildings

间 jiān: classifier for rooms

一间厨房 a kitchen room

一个房间 a room

扇 shàn: classifier for doors and windows

一扇门 a door

盏 zhǎn: classifier for lamps

一盏灯 a lamp

支 zhī: classifier for rods such as pens, guns

一支铅笔 a pencil

面 miàn: classifier for flat surfaces such as mirrors, drums, flags etc

一面红旗 a flag

一面镜子 a mirror

幅 fú: Classifier for Pictures or Textiles

把 bǎ: handful, Classifier for small objects or objects with handles (chair, knife)

一把椅子 a chair

一张床 a bed

Body parts

副 fù: classifier for sets of things

一副牙齿 a set of teeth

一个鼻子 a nose

一双眼睛 two eyes

一双手 two hands

两只耳朵 two ears

一头秀发 a head of beautiful hair

Plants & Flowers

朵 duǒ: classifier for flowers, clouds etc

棵 kē: classifier for trees, cabbages, plants etc

Objects in clusters or held together in one way or another adopt different measure words:

串 chuàn: classifier for rows or strings (bananas, grapes)

束 shù: classifier for bunches, bundles, beams of light etc

那束花 Nà shù huā: That bunch of flowers

Weather 天气

阵 zhèn: Classifier for events or short durations

一阵风 Yīzhènfēng

一阵蕾 yīzhèn lěi

场 cháng: Classifier happening, bouts/spells, sporting or recreational events/activities (number of exams)

一场雨 Yī chǎng yǔ

一场大雪 yī chǎng dàxuě

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