List of Chinese classifiers

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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; the fourth gives the Cantonese pronunciation, using Yale romanization; and the fifth the Minnan pronunciation (Taiwan). The last 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
Minnan Meaning and principal uses
ba2 "handful" — things with a part like a handle or hilt, relatively long (and flat) objects: e.g. knives 刀, scissors 剪刀, swords 劍/剑, keys 鑰匙/钥匙, pistol 手槍/手枪, etc.; also for chairs 椅子, and for fires 火
běn bun2 pún "volume" — bound print matter (books 書/书, etc.)
bung6 walls 墻 (Cantonese only)
bou6 phō novels 小說/小说, movies 電影/电影, TV dramas etc.; vehicles (如:一部大巴); Cantonese only: machines,
/ / chaak3 tsheh volumes of books ( is more common in Traditional Chinese, in Simplified)
céng chang4 tsàn "storey" of building, "layer" (of cakes, DVD-RW, etc.)
chǎng cheung4 tiûnn public spectacles, games 比賽/比赛, drama 戲/戏, film 電影/电影, etc.
chù chyu3 tshú "location", "site" — ruins 廢墟/废墟, construction site 工地, etc.
chū cheut1 tshut acts in a play, "performance" — plays 戲/戏, circus 馬戲/马戏, etc.
chi3 tshù "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 tíng objects with protruding top (hats 帽子, etc.)
dòng dung6 tòng "pillar" — buildings 房子
dou6 tóo walls and encompassing fixtures 牆/墙
dùn deun6 tǹg meals 飯/饭
duǒ do2/deu2 luí flowers 花, clouds 雲/云
fa1 huat Military projectiles, such as bullets 子彈/子弹, artillery shells 炮彈/炮弹, rockets, guided missiles etc.
fèn fan6 hūn portions, copies — newspapers 報紙/报纸, notarized document 公證/公证, contract 合同
fēng fung1 hong letters 信, mail, fax 傳真/传真
fuk1 pak works of art (paintings 畫兒/画儿, etc.)
gǎn gon3 kuáinn objects with "pole" (spears 槍/枪, balance scales, steelyard balance)
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 kun thin, slender, pole, stick objects (needles 針/针, pillars 支柱, telegraph poles, matchsticks, etc.); strands 絲/丝(e.g. hair 頭髮/头发)
hào hou6 people, workmen (一百多号人/一百多號人); business deals (几号买卖/幾號買賣)[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 recurring, often annual, conferences 會/会, class years in a school (e.g. Class of 2006) 畢業生/毕业生
juǎn gyun2 "roll" scrolls - film 膠卷/胶卷, toilet paper 手紙/手纸
fo2 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 "array" — trains 火車/火车
lún leun4 round — competition 比賽/比赛, discussions 會談/会谈
méi mui4 small things like stamps; sphere things that should beware of crash (bombshell 炸彈/炸弹, grenade 手榴彈/手榴弹, eggs 蛋); rings and jewelry that small (e.g. rings 戒指, diamond 鑽石/钻石); flat and round metalwork (e.g. medals, coins)
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 occasions or in literary Chinese, also 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 paau1 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.
po1 (Cantonese only) trees (樹/树) and other such flora
hei2 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 seui2 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 test/exam questions
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 (only used alongside a modifier)
wěi mei5 "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 suk1 nights, overnight stays (住一宿)[11][12][13]
yàng yeung6 general items of differing attributes
𠹻 jam6 (Cantonese only) odor 味
jak1 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 鳥/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 jyu1 trees 樹/树
zhù chyu5 incense 香
zūn jyun1 statues 像
zuò jo6 large mansion 公寓; mountains 山;

Measure words/massifiers[edit]

Trad. Simp. Mandarin
Meaning and principal uses
ba2 sets of objects that usually not bundled and could be hold in hand (e.g. matchsticks 火柴)
bān baan1 classifier for scheduled transport services (trains 火車/火车, bus 公交, subway 地鐵/地铁, etc.); group of people; class as in pupils 學生/学生
bāng bong1 group of (lively, naughty, or whatever) people (children 孩子, friends 朋友, etc.); "gang", band of (bandits 匪徒, bad men 壞蛋/坏蛋, etc.)
bāo baau1 objects (cookies 餅乾/饼干, cigarettes 香煙/香烟, French fries 薯條/薯条, screw, etc.) in "packet" or pouch
bēi bui1 liquids (water 水, juice 果汁, etc.) in "cup", glass, or beaker (sodium chloride solution 氯化鈉溶液/氯化钠溶液, etc.)
bèi bui3 "generation", "lifetime" (people 人)
bat1 large quantities of money (money 錢/钱, funds 資金/资金, account items 賬目/账目)
chuàn chyun3 set 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, etc.)
chuáng chong4 "bed" — blankets 毯子, sheets, quilt
daap6 a "stack" of (e.g. paper, or any other paper-like things)
dài doi6 "bag" — sackfuls, pouchfuls, bagfuls, pocketfuls (flour 麵粉/面粉, French fries 薯條/薯条, cements 水泥, etc.)
dàn daam6 (Cantonese only) "mouthful" — amount of food
/ di1 (Cantonese only) "some", "a bit" — general massifier. Only used in the form 一啲, or without a number (e.g. after demonstratives).
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) — e.g. courage 膽量/胆量
duàn dyun6 "adjoining length" — cables 電線/电线, roadways 路, part as in a drama 臺詞/台词, etc.
duī deui3 "pile", "mass" — trash 垃圾, sand 沙子, etc.
duì deui3 for certain objects in "pair": "couple" 夫妻, "pair" 搭檔/搭档, ring 戒指, earrings 耳環/耳环, bracelet 手鐲/手镯; Cantonese only: pair of objects which naturally come in pairs (e.g. chopsticks 筷子, shoes 鞋, etc.)
fuk6 "dose" (medicine 藥/药)
fu3 objects which come in pairs (gloves 手套, insole, couplets, etc.) also for spectacles/glasses 眼鏡/眼镜, mahjong 麻將/麻将, Chinese chess 象棋; pack of cards 牌
gu2 flows (of air 氣/气, smell 香味, influence 潮流, etc.)
gau6 (Cantonese only) "piece of", "chunk of" — rock, soap, ginger, charcoal, rice, etc.
guǎn gun2 "tube" — toothpaste and things that comes in tubes
guàn gun3 for canned beverages (e.g. soda), milk powder, sardine, etc.; also for air tank, nitrogen tank, etc.
háng hong4 "row" — objects which form lines (words 詞/词, etc.); occupations in a field (idiom, spoken language); 行 could also be pronounced as xíng, see below.
hap6 objects in a small "box" or case (e.g. mooncakes, tapes)
/ wu6 households ( is common in handwritten Traditional Chinese) — household 人家
wu4 liquids (usually drink) in a "pot" (tea, or sometimes rice wine) or kettle (usually water)
huǒ fo2 bands of people such as gangs or hoodlums (when heard it as classifier from news it is mostly derogatory); group of people (non-derogatory in some dialect)
jai1 "dose" (medicine 藥/药)
jié jit3 "section" of bamboo 竹子, sugarcane, etc.; branch of tree; a class period at school 課/课; columnar batteries, carriages of train (look like a section of bamboo)
geui3 "sentences" 句子, quotes 引言, lines 臺詞/台词, etc.
kǒu hau2 "mouthful" — amount of food
kuài faai3 "chunk", "lump", "piece" — land 地, stones 石頭/石头, cake 蛋糕 (piece/slice), bread (not slices) 麵包/面包, candy 糖, tofu 豆腐, etc.; yuan (widely used in spoken language)
kǔn sets of bundled objects, usually pole-, rope- or stick-like stuffs (e.g. matchsticks 火柴, straw, wire, etc.)
liǎ sometimes used informally instead of 两个 (liǎng ge), to mean "two" (especially two things or people that are close to one another)
luò (luǒ) lo3, lo6 set of objects either be "stacked" (a stack of, e.g. books 書/书) or be piled (a pile of, e.g. brisks 磚/砖)
leui5 (strand/slither of) hair, smoke 煙/烟, wind 風/风
pái paai4 "row" — objects grouped in rows (seat 座位, lanterns 燈籠/灯笼, aspen, etc.)
pai1 used when a large number of people (e.g. pupils) coming (e.g. entrance) or leaving (e.g graduate) during the same period; also used for large amount of commodity, mass-produced objects (products 產品/产品, laptops, etc.) or supplies.
píng ping4 objects in "bottle", vial, or flask. usually not too large so that people could takes by hands (e.g. lemonade, water, troche, , etc.)
kei4 (issues of) periodicals 期刊, magazine 雜誌/杂志
qún kwan4 "group" (people, students 學生/学生, etc.), "herd" (e.g. birds 鳥/鸟, horse 馬/马, etc.)
sometimes used informally instead of 三个 to mean "three", "three of"
shù chuk1 "bundle" of flowers 花; light 光, laser.
shuāng seung1 pair of objects which naturally come in pairs (e.g. chopsticks 筷子, shoes 鞋, etc.)
tào tou3 "set", "serial" or collective things — books 書/书, teaware 茶具, collectibles, clothes 衣裳, etc.
() tīng ting1 for canned beverages (e.g. soda, cola)
"tin" ("听" is common and informal in handwriting Traditional Chinese) — A recent loanword that have involved in Mandarin from Cantonese
tuán tyun4 "ball" — rotund and wound objects (balls of yarn 毛線/毛线, cotton, etc.)
tuó to4 "lump" — mud 泥, feces 糞便/粪便
wǎn wun2 for food in "bowl" (e.g. soup 湯/汤, rice 米飯/米饭, congee 粥, wonton 餛飩/馄饨)
xiē se1 "some" — general massifier. Only used in the form 一些, or without a number (e.g. after demonstratives).
xíng hang4 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.
zaap3 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" — beverages 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" — general mass-classifier for "sets" of objects (sets of, e.g. batteries 電池/电池, planets 行星, variables 變量/变量, data 数据/數據, objects 對象/对象, words 詞/词, or any sensible thing you want to name). A set is usually assumed to have two or more objects.
But there are also exceptions: depends on what object the classifier is used for, the quantity of objects in sets may be assumed without context. When assumed, the classifier usually fallback to play a similar role to either 雙/双, 副 or 對/对: for example, when used for certain objects that come in pair, e.g. 搭檔/搭档, represented as 一組搭檔/一组搭档 (一對搭档/一对搭档 is valid), here the quantity of objects is always assumed to be two (i.e. one pair) in each set; Note that when used for other naturally-in-pair things, like chopsticks 筷子, represented as *一組筷子/一组筷子, here the quantity of objects is unspecified if no context specific it, as people never use 組/组 for chopsticks as a natural-in-pair object classifier (That is, except for certain objects like 搭檔/搭档, the classifier 組/组 won't fallback to 雙/双, 副 et al. when used for objects in pair.)

Measurement units[edit]

Trad. Simp. Mandarin
miǎo miu5 "second"
fēn fan1 "minute"
hak1 haak1 "quarter","15 minutes" (mainly in certain dialects, such as Shanghainese, and translations)
tiān tin1 "day"
yat6 "day"
nián nin4 "year"
zǎi joi2 joi3 "year" (ancient)
hak1 haak1 "gram"
liǎng leung2 50 grams(1/10 jīn), used to be 1/16 jīn
加崙/加侖 加仑 jiālùn gaa1 leun2 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"
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/Statute mile (5280 British feet)
英里 yīnglǐ ying1 lei5 British mile/Statute mile
海里 Hǎilǐ Hai5 lei5 "Nautical mile" (1852 meters, about 6076 British feet)
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"
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", yuán (Cantonese slang)
jiǎo gok3 "jiǎo", "dime", "tenpence"
máo mou4 "máo", "dime", "tenpence" (slang)
háo hou4 "dime", "tenpence" (Cantonese slang)
fēn fan1/fan6 "fēn", "cent", "penny"

Verbal classifiers[edit]

See Chinese classifier → Verbal classifiers.

Trad. Simp. Mandarin
Meaning and uses
biàn bin3 pin3 the number of times an action has been completed, emphasizing the action's length and effort. eg. 改了三遍,把課文讀一遍
chǎng cheung4 a length of an event taking place within another event. eg. 哭一場,演一場,(一場戲,一場表演)
chi3 times (unlike , refers to the number of times regardless of whether or not it was completed). eg. 每次,上一次,下一次,試了五次,(三次機會,第一次用,第二次出國)
dùn deun6 actions without repetition. eg. 打一頓,罵一頓,(一頓大,一頓罵)
huí wui4 occurrences (used colloquially). eg. 瀟灑一回,來一回,走一回(過場)
shēng seng1/sing1 cries, shouts, etc. eg. 砰的一聲,嘩一聲,滴滴兩聲,(一聲響,一聲呼喚)
tàng tong3 trips, visitations, etc. eg. 走一趟,去一趟,(一趟下來)
xià ha5/ha6 brief and often sudden actions (much more common in Cantonese than in northern dialects). eg. 咔嚓一下,噌的一下,跳兩下,按五下. also used as weakened injunctive mood. eg. 來一下,幫我一下.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wēi Zhǔbiān (危东亚), ed.; et al. (1995), A Chinese-English Dictionary, Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, p. 1144, ISBN 9787560007397CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  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 9787100043458CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^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 9787560007397CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  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 9787100043458CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  8. ^起
  9. ^ John S. Barlow (1995), A Chinese-Russian-English Dictionary, University of Hawai‘i Press, p. 480, ISBN 0-8248-1729-X
  10. ^水
  11. ^ Wēi Zhǔbiān (危东亚), ed.; et al. (1995), A Chinese-English Dictionary, Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, p. 1144, ISBN 9787560007397CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Wú Jǐngróng (吴景荣), ed.; et al. (2006), New Age Chinese-English Dictionary, The Commercial Press, p. 1744, ISBN 9787100043458CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  13. ^宿

External links[edit]