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How can I use different measure words in a correct way?


Hi @YuQinCai, @Constance_Fang @Fiona and the ChinesePod team, my question is this: How can I use different measure words in a correct way? there are too many measure word in Chinese, i am really confused. thank you!


HI GracesBoyfriend,

We would love to help you with measure words but perhaps the best way is to learn it together with its accompanying noun. For me, it’s similar to learning the gender articles in German and French, I always have to sound them out together. And after a while, I get used to pairing up the article and noun.

What level of our lessons are you viewing these days?


Tanks! Newbie level, I find Chinese is a totally different language compared with English or French


Indeed! Please also try to think of the Chinese language in “blocks.” Think of ONE character being ONE block, and each block comes in different shapes and sizes, so each BLOCK (or word) can have different grammatical functions on top of definition. And if you played with LEGO before, then you can make the association that each block needs to fit with only certain types of blocks, AND in different positions. This is of course just all theory, but do try to apply this thinking when you deal with Chinese vocabulary and phrases and treat each character a block. Then you consume the blocks in ONE take, for example, yi(1)zhi(1)mao(1) (a cat), yi(1)zhi(1)gou(3) (a dog), or yi(1)ben(3)shu(1) (a book).

Last but not least, check out these videos:

Please let me know if these help!


Hi GracesBoyfriend,

For measure words, the thing that worked best for me is to focus on one measure word at a time, within the context of a phrase. For example, if a ChinesePod lesson had a measure word in it, I learned that phrase or sentence. As I continued doing lessons, I would encounter it on other contexts, and learn those phrases as well. After a while, I started to “feel” how they work.

Once I knew several of them quite well, it then became helpful to look at a more systematic teaching of measure words. If I looked at systematic teaching too early, it just didn’t make much sense. But once you have some grasp on some of them, it becomes helpful to learn principles, such as:

条 tiáo typically refers to long, thin items
张 zhāng typically refers to thin, flat items