Chinese Grammar Bank


Chinese Measure Words are definitely one of the most intimidating and confusing aspects of the language!

But don’t worry, there is actually a logic behind them and once you get it, they won’t seem as intimidating.


This isn’t a crazy foreign concept. If you know English, you already know about measure words!  

For example, when I want a sandwich, what will I use to make it? 

  1. Two slices of bread
  2. Two breads

You picked A, right?  Two slices of bread.

Slice is an example of a measure word in English. Other examples of measure words in English are “a stick of gum” or “a piece of paper.”

The big difference between Mandarin and English is that Mandarin uses measure words way more often than in English. In English measure words are normally used to measure (how much bread? A slice). In Mandarin, this is simply part of how nouns are used.  

At first, it may seem odd to use measure words with things like 老师 (teacher) or 苹果 (apple) that do not use measure words in English, but over time saying 一个老师 (a person teacher) will feel as natural as saying “a teacher.”



Number + Measure Word + Noun

Measure words are always used (at least implicitly) with a number. For example, to say “one apple” or “an apple” you will say:



an apple
  • 一 is the number
  • 个 is the measure word
  • 苹果 is the noun

No matter what your number, the measure word will never change as shown below:

liǎng píngguǒ


two apples
sān píngguǒ


three apples


five apples


Ideas for how to use this resource:

  1. Read through each group and try to pick up what the unifying feature of each measure word is
  2. Study through doodling – write the measure word and then draw some of the objects around it, to help cement the concept in your memory
  3. Find words you already know on these lists and think of any words you already know in this category

Do not feel obligated to make flashcards and memorize each of these measure word-noun pairings right now. Focus on learning the measure words for the nouns you already know and developing a general understanding of the more common measure words.

条 tiáo

条 tiáo is for long, thin objects.

For some, like 狗 (gǒu, dog), this seems like a stretch, but imagining a long, thin dog in your head will help you remember this measure word + noun pairing!

tiáo kùzi


tiáo gǒu


a dog
tiáo shé

a snake

a road
View More Phrases
一条带子yì tiáo dàiziA belt
一条路yì tiáo lùA road
一条绳子yì tiáo shéngziA rope
一条河yì tiáo héA river
一条蛇yì tiáo shéA snake
一条狗yì tiáo gǒuA dog
一条裤子yì tiáo kùziPants
一条线yì tiáo xiànA thread (or subway line!)
一条床单yì tiáo chuángdānA bedsheet
一条毯子yì tiáo tǎnziA blanket
一条鱼yì tiáo yúA fish
一条尾巴yì tiáo wěibaA tail
一条小溪yì tiáo xiǎoxīA brook/stream
一条毛巾yì tiáo máojīnA towel
一条腿yì tiáo tuǐA leg
一条街道yītiáo jiēdàoA street

张 zhāng

张 zhāng is typically used with things that you can open, spread, or unfold.

zhāng zhuōzi


a table
zhāng piào

a ticket
zhāng zhǐ

a piece of paper
View More Phrases
一张纸yìzhāng zhǐA piece of paper
一张床yìzhāng chuángA bed
一张画yìzhāng huàA painting
一张嘴yì zhāngzuǐA mouth
一张日历yìzhāng rìlìA calendar
一张报纸yìzhāng bàozhǐA newspaper
一张脸yìzhāng liǎnA face
一张单子yìzhāng dānzǐA bill
一张白纸yìzhāng báizhǐA piece of white paper
一张弓yì zhānggōngA bow (weapon)
一张照片yìzhāng zhàopiànA picture
一张桌子yìzhāng zhuōziA table
一张牌yìzhāng páiA playing card
一张床yìzhāng chuángA bed
一张银行卡yìzhāng yínhángkǎA bank card
一张海报yìzhāng hǎibàoA poster
一张网yì zhāngwǎngA net
一张票yìzhāng piàoA ticket

台 tái

tái is used for appliances or performances.

tái diànnǎo


a computer
tái xǐyījī


a washing machine

a drama
View More Phrases
一台电脑yì tái diànnǎoA computer
一台电视yì táidiàn shìA TV
一台空调yì tái kōngtiáoAn air conditioner
一台冰箱yì tái bīngxiāngA refrigerator
一台洗衣机yì tái xǐyījīA washing machine
一台机器yì tái jīqìA machine
一台演出yì tái yǎnchūA performance
一台电扇yì tái diànshànAn electric fan
一台车yì táichēA vehicle
一台照相机yì tái zhàoxiàngjīA camera (pictures)
一台摄影机yì tái shèyǐngjīA camera (film)
一台戏yì tái xìA drama

快 kuài

块 kuài is for chunks or pieces of something.

kuài qián

1 cent
kuài dàngāo


a cake
kuài xīguā


a watermelon
View More Phrases
一块蛋糕yíkuài dàngāoA piece of cake
一块饼干yíkuài bǐnggānA cookie
一块巧克力yíkuài qiǎokèlìA piece of chocolate
一块肉yíkuài ròuA piece of meat
一块点心yíkuài diǎnxinA pastry/dimsum
一块玻璃yíkuài bōliA piece of glass
一块板子yíkuài bǎnziA plank
一块布yíkuài bùA piece of fabric
一块木头yíkuài mùtouA piece of wood
一块手表yíkuài shǒubiǎoA watch
一块皮yíkuài píA piece of skin
一块药yíkuài yàoA pill
一块糖yíkuài tángA sugar cube
一块石头yíkuài shítouA rock
一块砖头yíkuài zhuāntouA brick
一块钱yíkuài qián1 cent
一块香皂yíkuài xiāngzàoA bar of soap
一块骨头yíkuài gǔtouA bone

只 zhǐ,匹 pī,头 tóu

These measure words are typically used for animals and socks, shoes, or jewellery.

zhǐ dàxiàng


an elephant
tóu niú

a cow

a horse
View More Phrases
一只狗yì zhǐ gǒuA dog
一只猫yì zhǐ māoA cat
一只鸟yì zhǐ niǎoA bird
一只鸡yì zhǐ jīA chicken
一只鸭yì zhǐ yāA duck
一只猴子yì zhǐ hóuziA monkey
一只大象yì zhǐ dàxiàngAn elephant
一只虫子yì zhǐ chóngziA bug
一只老鼠yì zhǐ lǎoshǔA mouse
一只蝴蝶yì zhǐ húdiéA butterfly
一头羊yìtóu yángA sheep
一头牛yì tóuniúA cow
一头老虎yìtóu lǎohǔA tiger
一头狮子yìtóu shīzǐA lion
一只青蛙yì zhǐ qīngwāA frog
一匹马yì pī mǎA horse
一只兔子yì zhǐ tùziA rabbit
一只鞋子yì zhǐ xiéziA shoe
一只耳环yì zhǐ ěrhuánAn earring
一只袜子yì zhǐ wàziA sock

辆 liàng,列 liè,架 jià

This measure word is typically used for transportation objects.

liàng zìxíngchē


a bike
jià fēijī


a plane
View More Phrases
一辆出租车yí liàng chūzūchēA taxi
一辆轿车yí liàng jiàochēA carriage
一辆自行车yí liàng zìxíngchēA bike
一列火车yí liè huǒchēA train
一列高铁yí liè gāotiěA bullet-train
一架飞机yí jià fēijīA plane

座 zuò,栋 dòng

This measure word is used for buildings.

zuò lóu

a building
dòng fángzi


an apartment
View More Phrases
一座楼yī zuò lóuA building
一座桥yī zuò qiáoA bridge
一座大厦yī zuò dàshàA large building
一座别墅yī zuò biéshùA villa
一栋大楼yí dòng dàlóuA big building
一栋房子yí dòng fángziAn apartment
一座庙yīzuò miàoA temple
一栋楼房yí dòng lóufángA building (2+ stories)
一座城堡 A castleyīzuò chéngbǎoA castle

Collective Measure Words

Some measure words aren’t referring to individual objects, they’re referring to groups.

For an English example: A herd of elephants.  Herd refers to the collective group.

Some more examples from Mandarin:

A rhyming couplet
A pair of shoes
A dozen eggs
A lot of clothing
A set of silverware
A gang of bad guys
A set of gloves
A team/class of people
A group of kids


What is a measure word?

The concept of measuring words actually exists in other languages! Like in English for certain nouns such as three glasses, or a bar of chocolate for example.

The only difference in Chinese is that all nouns must have a measure word before them.

How to use a measure word in Chinese?

Measure words are always used (at least implicitly) with a number. The structure always looks like this:

Number  +   Measure Word  + Noun

For example: 一个苹果.

What are the most common measure words?

The most common measure words are 个, 张,本,杯, 条,只 and 辆. Some you will find on this page, but you can find many other more specific Chinese Measure Words here.

I don’t know what Measure Word to use?

If you don’t know what measure word to use in a Chinese sentence, go with 个 gè. It’s a very general keyword and people will still understand what you are trying to say.

Better use this one than none!

How to say “measure word” in Chinese?

Measure Word in Chinese is 量词 liàng cí.

Any other Chinese Grammar I should learn?

The Chinese Grammar is not as difficult as other people might think.

There are indeed some key grammar points to learn early in your studies, and the more you study more complicated they are, but this is the case in any other languages.

Some Chinese Grammar to look for in the early steps of your studies are the use of the three “de”, the 是 sentence, and the 有 sentence.

Make sure to check out our Chinese Grammar Bank for more lessons like this (for all levels!).

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chinese mandarin measure words
Preview of our Measure Words PDF – It’s Free to Download!

As there’s a lot to take in when it comes to measuring words we thought we’d create a one-stop graphic that you can print and use at your own free will!

Our FREE Measure Words PDF is 8 pages in total and includes the most commonly used measure words in Mandarin.

The good thing, remember, is there is no pressure to learn all these.

Level up as and when you want. Perhaps study 5 new ones per day and start filtering them into conversation!

We hope you find it useful. Do share it, print it, and utilize it!