List of Chinese classifiers

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The following tables list the common classifiers and measure words found in the Chinese languages, as well as other units of measurement or currency having a similar function. For full details about these classes of words, see the article Chinese classifier.

In the tables, the first and second columns contain the Chinese character representing the classifier, in traditional and simplified versions when they differ. The third column gives the pronunciation in Standard (Mandarin) Chinese, using pinyin, and the fourth gives the Cantonese pronunciation, using Yale romanization. The fifth column explains the classifier's principal uses (the types of noun with which it can be used); quotation marks surround its literal meaning.

Nominal classifiers[edit]

Classifiers proper[edit]

Trad. Simp. Mandarin
(pinyin)
Cantonese
(Yale)
Meaning and principal uses
ba2 "handful" — objects that can be held, relatively long and flat objects (knives 刀, scissors 剪刀, swords 劍/剑, keys 鑰匙/钥匙; also chairs 椅子)
běn bun2 "volume" — bound print matter (books 書/书, etc.)
bung6 walls 墻 (Cantonese only)
bou6 novels 小說/小说, movies 電影/电影, TV dramas etc. ; Cantonese only: machines, vehicles
/ / chaak3 volumes of books ( is more common in Traditional Chinese, in Simplified)
céng chang4 "storey", "layer" — buildings 樓/楼, etc.
chǎng cheung4 public spectacles, games 比賽/比赛, drama 戲/戏, film 電影/电影, etc.
chù "location", "site" — ruins 廢墟/废墟, construction site 工地
chū cheut1 acts in a play, "performance" — plays 戲/戏, circus 馬戲/马戏, etc.
chi3 "time" — opportunities 機會/机会, accidents 事故
dào dou6 linear projections (light rays 亮光, etc.), orders given by an authority figure 命令, courses (of food) 點心/点心, walls and doors 門/门, questions 題/题, number of times (for certain procedures) 工序
dǐng deng2 objects with protruding top (hats 帽子, etc.)
dòng dung6 lit. pillars, used for buildings 房子
dou6 walls and encompassing fixtures 牆/墙
dùn deun6 meals 飯/饭
duǒ do2/deu2 flowers 花, clouds 雲/云
fa1 Military projectiles, such as bullets 子彈/子弹, artillery shells 炮彈/炮弹, rockets, guided missiles etc.
fèn fan6 portions, copies — newspapers 報紙/报纸, notarized document 公證/公证, contract 合同
fēng fung1 letters 信, mail, fax 傳真/传真
fuk1 works of art (paintings 畫兒/画儿, etc.)
ge (gè) go3 individual things, people — general, catch-all measure word (usage of this classifier in conjunction with any noun is generally accepted if the person does not know the proper classifier)
gēn gan1 thin, slender objects (needles 針/针, pillars 支柱, etc.); strands 絲/丝(e.g. hair 頭髮/头发)
hào people, workmen (一百多人); business deals (几号买卖)[1][2][3][4]
jiā ga1 gathering of people (families 人家, companies 公司, etc.), establishments (shops 商店, restaurants 酒店, hotels 飯店/饭店)
jià ga3 aircraft 飛機/飞机, pianos 琴, machines 儀器/仪器
jiān gaan1 rooms 屋子, 房; Cantonese only: stores, companies
jiàn gin6 matters (affairs 事情), clothing 衣裳, etc.
jiè gaai3 regularly scheduled sessions or meetings 會/会, year-groups in a school (e.g. Class of 2006) 畢業生/毕业生
juǎn guen2 "roll" scrolls - film 膠卷/胶卷, toilet paper 手紙/手纸
po1 trees (樹/树) and other such flora
fo2 small objects (hearts 心, pearls 珠子, teeth 牙齒/牙齿, diamonds 鑽石/钻石, etc.) and also objects appearing to be small (distant stars 星星 and planets 星球)
kǒu hau2 people in villages 人, family members; wells 井; blade 刀
lèi leui6 objects of the same type or category — affair 事情, circumstance 情況/情况
lap1 "grain", small objects such as a grain of rice 米
liàng leung2 wheeled vehicles: automobiles 汽車/汽车, bicycles 自行車/自行车, etc.
liè lit6 trains 火車/火车
lún round — competition 比賽/比赛, discussions 會談/会谈
méi mui4 medals 獎章/奖章, small flat things like stamps 郵票/邮票 or coins 硬幣/硬币, banana peels, bomb shells 大砲/大炮, also for rings 戒指
mén mun4 objects pertaining to academics (courses 課/课, majors 專業/专业, etc.), also for artillery pieces 大砲/大炮.
miàn min6 "surface" — flat and smooth objects (mirrors 鏡子/镜子, flags 旗子, etc.)
míng ming4 honorific, or persons with perceived higher social rank (doctors 醫生/医生, lawyers 律師/律师, politicians, royalty, etc.); in formal language, can also be used for any type of person (not necessarily high-ranking, e.g. mother 母親)
pán pun4 flat objects (video cassettes 錄影帶/录影带, etc.); literally means "dishes" and can be used for a plate of food
pào, pāo classifiers for liquids which need preparation (tea 茶, urine 尿)
pat1 horses 馬/马 and other mounts; also rolls/bolts of cloth 布
pet6 (Cantonese only) puddle of shapeless mass — mud, feces, etc.
piān pin1 written work: papers 論文/论文, articles 文章, novels etc.
piàn pin3 "slice" — flat objects, cards, slices of bread 麵包/面包, etc.
case, instance (两起大脑炎); batch, group (分两起出发)[5][6][7][8]
shàn sin3 doors 門/门, windows 窗戶/窗户.
shǒu sau2 songs 歌, poems 詩/诗, music 曲子, etc.
shuǐ washings/rinsings (这件衬衫洗了三水了)[9][10]
sōu sau2 ships 船
suǒ so2 for buildings whose purposes are explicitly stated, e.g. hospitals 醫院/医院. Otherwise can use "座"
/ tái toi4 heavy objects, esp. machines (TVs 電視機/电视机, computers 電腦/电脑, etc.); performances (theatre 話劇/话剧, etc.)
táng tong4 periods of classes 課/课 (e.g. "I have two classes today"), suites of furniture
tàng tong3 trips (usually repetitive), scheduled transportation services — flights 班機/班机
tai4 classifier for questions[citation needed]
tiáo tiu4 long, narrow, flexible objects (fish 魚/鱼, dogs 狗, trousers 褲子/裤子, etc.), also for roads 路 and rivers 河, pertaining to human lives, e.g. "兩條人命" two (human) lives, "一條心", lit. "one heart" (to work as one), classifiers for certain things like counter-measures, etc.
tóu tau4 "head" — domesticated animals 家畜 (pigs 豬/猪, cows 牛, etc.), hair
wěi "tail" — fish 魚/鱼 (ancient)
wèi wai2 polite classifier for people (attached to positions, not names) — workers 工人, director 主任
xiàng hong6 items, projects — initiative 倡議/倡议, ordinances 法令, statements 聲明/声明
宿 xiǔ nights, overnight stays (住一宿)[11][12][13]
yàng yeung6 general items of differing attributes
𠹻 jam6 (Cantonese only) odor 味
sections of text — notice 消息, jokes 笑話/笑话, news 新聞/新闻, etc.
zhǎn jaan2 light fixtures (usually lamps 燈/灯), pot of tea etc.
zhāng jeung1 "sheet" — flat objects (paper 紙/纸, tables 桌子, etc.), faces 臉/脸, bows, paintings 圖畫/图画, tickets 票, constellations, blankets, bedsheets 床單/床单; Cantonese only: chairs 凳
zhī jek3 one of a pair (hands 手, legs); animals (birds 鸟, cats 貓/猫, etc.)
zhī ji1 fairly long, stick-like objects (pens 筆/笔, chopsticks, roses, rifles 槍/枪, etc.), fleets 舰队/艦隊
zhī ji1 alternative form of 支 ("stalk"): can be used for rifles 槍/枪 and flowers
zhǒng jung2 types or kinds of objects (animals 動物/动物)
zhū trees 树
zhù incense 香
zūn statues 像
zuò jo6 large structures/buildings 樓/楼, mountains 山

Measure words/massifiers[edit]

Trad. Simp. Mandarin
(pinyin)
Cantonese
(Yale)
Meaning and principal uses
bān baan1 scheduled services (trains 火車/火车, etc.), group of people 人, a class as in pupils 學生/学生
bāng "group", "gang" (bandits 匪徒, children 孩子 )
bāo baau1 "package", "bundle" (cookies 餅乾/饼干, cigarettes 香煙/香烟)
bēi bui1 "cup" — liquids (water 水)
bèi "generation", "lifetime" (people 人)
bat1 large quantities of money (money 錢/钱, funds 資金/资金)
chuàn sets of numbers; or something that comes in a string (e.g. 號碼/号码: "a string of numbers"; 珍珠頸鏈/项链: "pearl necklace"; 葡萄: "a bunch of grapes"), objects on a skewer/stick (kebabs, satays)
chuáng chong4 "bed" — blankets 毯子, sheets
dài doi6 "bag" — sackfuls, pouchfuls, bagfuls, pocketfuls — flour 麵粉/面粉
dik6 "droplet" water 水, blood 鮮血/鲜血, other such fluids
diǎn dim2 ideas 意見/意见, suggestions, can also mean "a bit" (often used to denote amount) — courage 膽量/胆量
duàn dyun6 "adjoining length" — cables 電線/电线, roadways 路, a part in a drama, play etc. 臺詞/台词
duī deui3 "pile", "mass" — trash 垃圾, sand 沙子
duì deui3 "couple" — people 人, "pair" (for certain things only) earrings 耳環/耳环, couplets; Cantonese only: pair of objects which naturally come in pairs (e.g. chopsticks 筷子, shoes 鞋, etc.)
fuk6 "dose" — (Chinese) medicine
fu3 objects which come in pairs (gloves 手套, etc.) also for spectacles/glasses 眼鏡/眼镜, a pack of cards 牌, mahjong 麻將/麻将
gu2 flows (of air 氣/气, smell 香味, influence 潮流)....
gau6 (Cantonese only) "piece of", "chunk of" — rock, soap, ginger, charcoal, rice, etc.
guǎn "tube" — toothpaste and things that comes in tubes — toothpaste 牙膏
guàn Small to medium cans of soda, of juice, bottles of water, cans of food...
háng hong4 "row" — objects which form lines (words 詞/词, etc.). — 行 is also read xíng, see below.
hap6 "small box" — e.g. tape, foods
/ wu6 households ( is common in handwritten Traditional Chinese) — household 人家
pot — tea 茶
huǒ fo2 generally derogatory classifier for bands of people such as gangs or hoodlums (匪徒)
dose (medicine 藥/药)
jié jit3 "section" — of bamboo 竹子, etc.; a class period at school 課/课; batteries (that look like a section of bamboo): "兩節電池。"
geui3 lines, sentences, etc. — sentence 話/话, English 英語/英语
kuài faai3 "chunk", "lump", "piece" — land 地, stones 石頭/石头, etc.; cake 蛋糕 (piece/slice), bread (not slices) 麵包/面包, "dollar" 錢/钱
liǎ sometimes used informally instead of 两个 (liǎng ge), to mean "two" (especially two things or people that are close to one another)
(strand/slither of) hair, smoke 煙/烟, wind 風/风
pái paai4 "row" — objects grouped in rows (chairs 座位, etc.)
pai1 (a large amount of) people 人, goods 商品, etc.
píng ping4 "bottle" — drinks 飲料/饮料
kei4 (issues of) periodicals 雜誌/杂志
qún kwan4 "group" (incl. people 人), "herd" — students 學生/学生, birds 鳥/鸟
sometimes used informally instead of 三个 to mean "three", "three of"
shù chuk1 "bundle", for flowers 花, light, etc.
shuāng seung1 pair of objects which naturally come in pairs (e.g. chopsticks 筷子, shoes 鞋, etc.)
tào tou3 "set" — books 書/书, magazines, collectibles, clothes 衣裳, etc.
tuán tyun4 "ball" — rotund and wound objects (balls of yarn 毛線/毛线, etc.)
tuó "lump" — mud 泥, feces 糞便
wǎn wun2 "bowl" — soup 湯/汤, rice 米飯/米饭, congee 粥
xiē "some" — general massifier. Only used in the form 一些, or without a number (e.g. after demonstratives).
xíng groups of people traveling together, such as a trade commission or diplomats and aides visiting a foreign country: "国王一行人离开巴黎后十分兴奋" (having left Paris, the king and retinue were enthused). Note: almost only used in the form 一行人. — 行 is also read háng, see above.
number of revolutions, times to go around
zhā ja1 In Cantonese usage, this is used in lieu of shù (), e.g. a bundle of flowers
"jar", "jug" — drinks such as beer, soda, juice, etc. (A recent loan-word from English, it may be considered informal or slang.)
zhèn jan6 "gust", "burst" — events with short durations (e.g. lightning storms, gusts of wind 風/风, etc.)
zhù a "pour" of water, tea (liquid); a "bet" — lottery 彩票
jou2 sets, rows, series, group of people 人, batteries 電池/电池 (military)

Measurement units[edit]

Trad. Simp. Mandarin
(pinyin)
Cantonese
(Yale)
Meaning
Time
miǎo miu5 "second"
fēn fan1 "minute"
hak1 haak1 "quarter","15 minutes" (mainly in some dialects, such as Shanghainese, and translations)
tiān tin1 "day"
yat6 "day"
nián nin4 "year"
zǎi joi2 joi3 "year" (ancient)
Weight/mass
hak1 haak1 "gram"
liǎng 50 grams(1/10 jīn), used to be 1/16 jīn
加崙/加侖 加仑 jiālùn gallon
jīn gan1 "catty", "pound", 1/2 kilograms
公斤 gōngjīn gung1 gan1 "metric jīn", kilogram
千克 qiānkè chin1 hak1/haak1 "kilogram"
dūn deun1 "ton"
Length/distance
公分 gōngfēn gung1 fan1 "metric fēn",centimetre
厘米 límǐ lei4 mai5 "centimetre" (More common in Mainland China and Hong Kong)
cùn chyun3 Chinese "inch" (⅓ of a decimetre)
cùn chyun3 British inch
chǐ che2/chek3 Chinese "foot" (⅓ of a metre)
chǐ chek3 British foot
英尺 yīngchǐ ying1 chek3 British foot
公尺 gōngchǐ gung1 chek3 "metric chǐ", metre
mai5 "metre"
lei5 "", (500 metres)
le1/lei5/li1 British mile
英里 yīnglǐ ying1 lei5 British mile
公里 gōnglǐ gung1 lei5 "kilometre" (1000 metres)
天文單位 天文单位 tiānwéndānwèi tin1 man4 daan1 wai2 "astronomical unit"
光年 guāngnián gwong1 nin4 "light year"
秒差距 miǎochājù miu5 cha1 geui6 "parsec"
Money
圓/元 圆/元 yuán yun4 "yuán", "¥" (main unit of currency)
(either form can be used in Traditional Chinese text)
kuài faai3 "block", yuán (a slang term, like "quid" or "buck")
wén man1 "dollar" (slang in HK Cantonese)
jiǎo gok3 "jiǎo", "dime", "tenpence"
máo hou4 "máo", "dime", "tenpence" (slang)
fēn fan1/fan6 "fēn", "cent", "penny"

Verbal classifiers[edit]

See Chinese classifier → Verbal classifiers.

Trad. Simp. Mandarin
(pinyin)
Cantonese
(Yale)
Meaning and uses
biàn bin3 pin3 the number of times an action has been completed
chǎng cheung4 a length of an event taking place within another event
chi3 times (unlike , refers to the number of times regardless of whether or not it was completed)
dùn deun6 actions without repetition
huí wui4 occurrences (used colloquially)
shēng seng1/sing1 cries, shouts, etc.
tàng tong3 trips, visitations, etc.
xià ha5/ha6 brief and often sudden actions (much more common in Cantonese than in North dialects).

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Wēi Zhǔbiān (危东亚), ed., et al. (1995), A Chinese-English Dictionary, Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, p. 1144, ISBN 9787560007397 
  2. ^ John S. Barlow (1995), A Chinese-Russian-English Dictionary, University of Hawai‘i Press, p. 392, ISBN 0-8248-1729-X 
  3. ^ Wú Jǐngróng (吴景荣), ed., et al. (2006), New Age Chinese-English Dictionary, The Commercial Press, p. 612, ISBN 9787100043458 
  4. ^ http://www.mdbg.net/chindict/chindict.php?page=worddict&wdrst=0&wdqb=号
  5. ^ Wēi Zhǔbiān (危东亚), ed., et al. (1995), A Chinese-English Dictionary, Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, pp. 775–776, ISBN 9787560007397 
  6. ^ John S. Barlow (1995), A Chinese-Russian-English Dictionary, University of Hawai‘i Press, p. 505, ISBN 0-8248-1729-X 
  7. ^ Wú Jǐngróng (吴景荣), ed., et al. (2006), New Age Chinese-English Dictionary, The Commercial Press, p. 1207, ISBN 9787100043458 
  8. ^ http://www.mdbg.net/chindict/chindict.php?page=worddict&wdrst=0&wdqb=起
  9. ^ John S. Barlow (1995), A Chinese-Russian-English Dictionary, University of Hawai‘i Press, p. 480, ISBN 0-8248-1729-X 
  10. ^ http://www.mdbg.net/chindict/chindict.php?page=worddict&wdrst=0&wdqb=水
  11. ^ Wēi Zhǔbiān (危东亚), ed., et al. (1995), A Chinese-English Dictionary, Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, p. 1144, ISBN 9787560007397 
  12. ^ Wú Jǐngróng (吴景荣), ed., et al. (2006), New Age Chinese-English Dictionary, The Commercial Press, p. 1744, ISBN 9787100043458 
  13. ^ http://www.mdbg.net/chindict/chindict.php?page=worddict&wdrst=0&wdqb=宿

External links[edit]