List of Chinese counting words

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Chinese counting words , also Chinese counting unit words , abbr .: ZEW ( Chinese  chines  /  量词 , Pinyin liàngcí ) are used in the Chinese languages together with numerals to indicate quantities or to form a plural .

In Chinese, simple numerals can not quantify a noun by themselves . The language needs the numerals for this. A distinction is made between two types, nominal and verbal , the latter being used to quantify verbs and their time. Its use is mandatory in Chinese. The numerals must be used when there is a numeral or a pronoun . However, there is no definite article in Chinese.

While in German “a flock of birds” is roughly synonymous with “some birds”, in Chinese only 一群 鳥  /  一群 鸟 is possible. Accordingly, “a bird” should be translated as 一隻 鳥  /  一只 鸟 ; it is like saying “a specimen of a bird”. Use also depends on personal preferences and dialects . For example, some speakers say 三 部 車  /  三 部 车 and others say 三台 車  /  三台 车 to express “three cars”. Other possibilities to denote the same thing are 三 輛車  /  三 辆车 or in Cantonese 三 架 車  /  三 架 车 .

Some counting words are correct units that all languages ​​use to measure things, e.g. B. Kilometers . These come first, followed by other nominal and finally verbal classifiers.

The tables provide an overview of the Chinese counting words and can be read as follows.

  1. Column: ZEW traditional variant
  2. Column: ZEW simplified variant (if there are differences)
  3. Column: Pronunciation in standard Chinese according to Pinyin
  4. Column: Pronunciation in Cantonese after Cantonese Pinyin
  5. Column: information on use. The literal meaning of the count word is given in quotation marks .

Nominal classifiers

Real units

Standard Chinese
- miǎo miu 5 "Second"
- fēn fan 1 "Minute"
- hook 1 "Quarter of an hour" / "15 minutes"
小時 小时 xiǎoshí siu 2 si 4 "Hour"
zhōng young 1 "Hour" (in Cantonese )
鐘頭 钟头 zhōngtóu young 1 dew 4 "Hour" (coll.)
時辰 (obs.) 时辰 (obs.) shíchén si 4 san 4 "Double hour" (obs.)
- tiān tin 1 "Day"
- yat 6 "Day"
- nián nin 4 "Year"
zǎi joi 2 "Year" (formal)
世紀 世纪 shìjì sai 3 gei 2 "Century"
Weight / mass
- hook 1 "Gram" (technical)
公克 - gōngkè supply 1 hak 1 "Gram" (metric)
- jīn gan 1 "Jin" / Chinese pound (approx. 600 grams) , "pound", 500 grams
公斤 - gōngjīn gung 1 gan 1 "Kilogram" (metric)
千克 - qiānkè chin 1 hook 1 "Kilogram" (technical)
thin deun 1 "Ton" (technical)
公噸 公吨 gōngdūn gung 1 deun 1 "Ton" (metric)
Length / distance
毫米 - háomǐ hou 4 may 5 "Millimeter" (technical)
公釐 (obs.) 公厘 (obs.) gōnglí gung 1 lei 4 "Millimeter" (metric)
公分 - gōngfēn gung 1 fan 1 "Centimeter" (metric)
釐米 厘米 límǐ lei 4 may 5 "Centimeter" (technical)
- cùn chyun 3 " Cun / Chinese customs ", " customs "
(obs.) - cùn chyun 3 "British Customs"
- chǐ chek 3 " Chi / Chinese foot " / " foot "
(obs.) - chǐ chek 3 "British foot"
英尺 - yīngchǐ ying 1 chek 3 "British foot"
公尺 - gōngchǐ gung 1 chek 3 "Meter" (metric)
- may 5 "Meter" (technical)
千米 - qiānmǐ chin 1 may 5 "Kilometers" (technical)
- lei 5 " Li / Chinese mile " (approx. 1/3 mile) , " mile "
(obs.) - lei 5 "British Mile"
英里 - yīnglǐ ying 1 lei 5 "British Mile"
公里 - gōnglǐ gung 1 lei 5 "Kilometers" (metric)
天文 單位 天文 单位 tiānwén dānwèi tin 1 man 4 daan 1 wai 2 " Astronomical Unit "
光年 - guāngnián gwong 1 nin 4 " Light year "
秒 差距 - miǎochājù miu 5 cha 1 geui 6 " Parsec "
/ / yuan yun 4 "Yuan", abbreviation: " ¥ "
(both character forms are equivalent and can be used in Chinese texts)
kuài faai 3 "Kuai", abbreviation: " ¥ "
(an English expression in everyday life for yuan)
- jiǎo gok 3 "Jiao" (1 / 10th of a yuan)
- máo mou 4 "Mao" (1 / 10th Yuan)
(an English expression in everyday life for Jiao)
- fēn fan 1 "Fen" (1 / 100th of a yuan)

Idiomatic expressions

Standard Chinese
ba 2 "A handful" "a bundle" - stick-like objects, objects that you can hold (knives, umbrellas, keys; also chairs)
bān baan 1 Scheduled services (trains, flights, buses, etc.), school class
bāo construction 1 "Package", "Bundle", "Pack"
bào pou 5 "An arm full"
bēi bui 1 "Mug", "Cup" - drinks
běn boon 2 "Tape" - bound printed matter (books, etc.)
asked 7 large amounts of money (payment, business)
bo 6 Novels, films, machines, devices
chak 8 Books
céng chang 4 "Floor", "Floor" - building, "Level", "Layer" etc.
chǎng cheung 4 public events, games, big events
chuáng chong 4 "A bed full" - blankets, towels
chi 3 "Mal" - opportunities
dài doi 2 Sacks, pouches, bags full
dào do 6 linear projections (rays of light, etc.), commands of an authority
dik 9 Drops of water, blood and similar liquids
thin dim 2 Ideas, suggestions
dǐng dik 9 Objects with a protruding tip (hats, etc.)
dòng manure 6 literally columns, used for multi-storey or tall buildings
do 1 Walls and boundaries
duàn duen 6 "Section", "Route" - cables, roads, paragraphs, time segments, etc.
youì dui 3 "Couple" - people
thin dun 6 Meals, menu, beatings, abuse
youǒ do 2 Flowers, bloom, clouds
fèn fan 6 Share, portions, magazines, photocopies, emotions
fēng fung 1 Things in envelopes, sealed things, (letters, mail, etc.)
fuk 7 Works of art (picture, scroll, painting, photo, etc.), length of fabric
fuk 9 “Dose” - (Chinese) medicine
foo 3 pairs of objects (glasses, gloves, earrings, etc.), “set”, “set”, facial expressions
go 3 individual things or people - the use of this classifier in conjunction with any noun is generally accepted if the speaker does not know the appropriate classifier.
gene gan 1 thin, slender objects (needles, columns, etc.)
goo 2 Rivers, "breath", "surge", (air mass, atmosphere, influence, force)
hillside hong 4 Objects that form lines, rows (words, numbers, cars, people, etc.)
hap 2 "Small box", "small box", "small box", "small box" - e.g. B. Band
woo 6 Family, household
huǒ fo 2 mostly pejorative classifier for groups like gangs or gangsters
jiā ga 1 Group of people (families, companies, institutions, etc.)
jià ga 3 "A shelf full", "a rack full", machines, devices and objects with supports and racks, etc.
jiān gaan 1 Spaces, spatiality, rooms, etc.
jiàn gin 6 Fabrics, clothing, articles, pieces of goods, matter, things, objects, etc.
jié jit 8 "Section, segment, section, lesson section, time section" - (stick, bamboo, etc.)
jiè gaai 3 regular events, term of office, electoral term, etc.
gui 3 Lines, sentences, etc.
po 1 Trees and similar plants
fo 2 small things (hearts, pearls, teeth, etc.) and small-looking things (distant stars and planets)
kǒu hit 2 People in villages, family members
kuài faai 3 “Piece”, “Brocken” - land, stones, etc .; Cake, bread (not slices)
lèi lui 6 similar objects
lap 7 "Grain"
liàng leung 2 Cars, bikes, etc.
liè lit 9 Trains
méi mui 4 Medals
men moon 4 academic terms (course, subject, skill, homework, etc.)
miàn min 6 flat, smooth things (mirrors, flags, etc.)
míng ming 4 general people, persons with titles (doctors, lawyers, politicians, nobles, etc.)
pái paai 4 Objects arranged in rows and grids (chairs, tables, etc.)
pán poon 4 flat objects (video cassettes, etc.)
pi pai 1 "Group", "crowd", "crowd", "shock", "cargo", "batch", people, goods etc.
pat 7 Horses and other mounts, balls of cloth
piān pin 1 "Chapters", written texts, articles, essays, reports, etc.
piàn pin 3 "Slices" - flat objects, cards, slices of bread, etc.
píng ping 4 "Bottle", "Vase" - bottles for liquids etc.
no 4 Events that occur in time segments - output for magazines, newspapers, etc.
qún kwan 4 "Gathering", "Horde", "Herd", "Crowd" "Flock", "Swarm"
shàn sin 3 “Leaf”, doors, windows
shǒu sow 2 Songs, poems, music, etc.
shù chuk 7 Bundle, bunch, bouquet (flowers) - things that are tied together in a bunch
shuāng seung 1 paired objects
sou sow 2 Ships
suǒ so 2 Buildings, institutions, etc.
tái toi 4 heavy objects (televisions, computers, statues, etc.) and performances (theaters, etc.)
táng tong 4 Things that happen in sections and sequences (lessons, courses, etc.), sets or sets (furniture sets, etc.)
tàng tong 3 Trips, driving services, transport services, traffic connections, actions
tào to 3 "Set", "Set", "Set" - books, magazines, collectibles, etc.
tai 4 Classifier for questions, topics, etc.
tiáo tiu 4 long and narrow objects (fish, pants, rod, etc.) arithmetic sentences (arithmetic problem, bills, etc.), paragraphs of text (clauses, paragraphs, etc.)
tóu dew 4 "Head" - certain animals (pigs, cows, etc.), hair
tuan do 4 "Bausch", "Klumpen", "Käul" - round and ball-like twisted objects (balls of yarn, etc.)
wèi wai 2 polite classifier for people
xiàng hong 6 Projects
yàng yeung 6 general things with different attributes
zhā jat 8 "Krug" - drinks such as beer, soda, juice etc. (a young loan word from the English " jar ", coll. Or regional)
zhǎn yeah 2 Light sources (mostly lamps), teapots, etc.
zhāng jeung 1 “Sheet” - flat objects (paper, tables, etc.), faces, sheets, paintings, maps, constellations
zhèn jan 6 "Explosion", " Gust " - events of short duration (thunderstorms, gusts of wind)
zhī ji 1 stick-like objects (brushes, pens, sticks, sticks, chopsticks, etc.)
zhī jek 8 one of a couple, animals (birds, cats, etc.)
zhī ji 1 Alternative to 支, can be used for rifles and roses.
zhǒng young 2 Types of objects
jo 2 Unit, set, group, series, set, set, series
zuò jo 6 large structures or mountains

Verbal classifiers

Standard Chinese
biàn am 3 how often an action was ended
chǎng cheung 4 the length of an event that occurs during another act
chi 3 Times (unlike , 次 is regardless of whether the plot has been completed)
thin deun 6 one-time actions without repetition
huí wui 4 Incidents (coll.)
shēng sing 1 ,
coll .: seng 1
Screams, shouts, etc.
tàng tong 3 Trips, visits, etc.
xià ha 5 short and sudden actions

Informal classifiers

In the modern colloquial language of certain Chinese dialects, liǎ is sometimes used instead of 兩個 liǎng ge and becomes a counting word that means “both X” or “two of X”. In most cases, however, it only refers to people. For comparison:

他們  今天 都沒 出門。 , Tāmen liǎ jīntiān dōu méi chūmén.
他們兩個 人今天 都沒 出門。 , Tāmen liǎng ge rén jīntiān dōu méi chūmén.
"The two of them weren't outside at all today."

The same applies to instead of 三個 sān ge , each of which refers to three things.


In the following examples, numerals are displayed in green and nouns in purple .
Behind it (after the slash) is the same example in simplified characters.

  • 我了一騎去年  /  去年我了一骑
Last year I rode a horse.
  • 電視看了一就壞了  /  电视看了一就坏了
This TV was damaged after the first use.
  • 訂這兩了我  /  我了订这两
I have reserved (tickets) for these two buses.
  • 完這下我才會爬那  /  下完这我才会爬那
Only when this rain is over will I climb the mountain.
  • 頭髮  /  头发
a hair, a strand of hair.
  • (鐘)  /  (钟)
five minutes
  • ( 時間 )  /  ( 时间 )
ten days (time)
  • 一百  /  一百
a hundred oxen, a hundred head of cattle.
  • 蘋果  /  苹果
An apple
  • 蘋果  /  苹果
a pound of apples.
  • 蘋果  /  苹果
some apples.