Chinese Measure Words 🤔 71 Frequently Used (With Free PDF, Video and Quiz)

Your Complete Guide to Chinese Measure Words

Chinese measure words can be one of the most intimidating and confusing things about learning Chinese for beginners.

Even for advanced learners it can be difficult to know which is the correct measure word to use because there are literally hundreds of them!

Don’t be like Drake!

That’s why we’ve put together a complete guide to 12 of the most common and 59 of the most frequently used Chinese measure words.

Whether you’re a beginner or more advanced learner of Chinese you’ll be able to expand beyond just using 个 gè.

To make things easier, we’ve split up the measure words into different categories, starting with 12 of the most common Chinese measure words.

For any beginners you might want to get your head around the first 12 before trying to learn anymore.

You’ll notice that some measure words appear in more than one category as some can be used for a variety of objects.

Chinese Measure Words – 12 of the Most Common

Chinese Measure Words – People and Animals

Chinese Measure Words – Body Parts

Chinese Measure Words – Food

Chinese Measure Words – Plants, Fruit and Vegetables

Chinese Measure Words – Vehicles and Buildings

Chinese Measure Words – Household Items

Chinese Measure Words – Clothing and Jewellery

Chinese Measure Words – Time

Chinese Measure Words – Units of Measure

Chinese Measure Words – Pairs, Collections and Groups


TEST YOURSELF – Chinese Measure Words Quiz

Chinese Measure Words – 12 of The Most Common

Firstly, don’t let yourself be too overwhelmed by the concept of measure words. They do actually exist in other languages like English for certain nouns such as three glasses, or a bar of chocolate.

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

It may take a little bit of getting used to at first, but after a little while, including a measure word will just seem like second nature!


#1 – 个 gè


The king of all measure words!

个 gè can be used as a generic measure word if you’re not sure of the correct one. Although hopefully with our guide you’ll be able to up your Chinese game and start using some other measure words instead!

In general 个 should be used as a measure word for people and unspecified items:

  • 朋友 yí péngyou – A friend
  • 东西 yī dōngxī – A thing
个gè:人 sì rén – Four people

#2 – 张 zhāng

This is an important measure word to learn for anyone living or travelling in China as it is used for flat things such as pieces of paper.

For instance it would be used when buying tickets:

  • 火车票 liǎng zhāng huǒchē piào – Two train tickets
  • 硬卧票 yī zhāng yìng wò piào – One soft sleeper ticket

This measure word is also used for other flat objects like certain furniture:

  • 双人床 yī zhāng shuāngrén chuáng – A double bed
  • 我想订一桌子 wǒ xiǎng dìng yī zhāng zhuōzi – I want to book a table
张 zhāng:票 liǎng zhāng piào – Two tickets, 一桌子 yì zhāng zhuōzi – A table

#3 – 本 běn


This is another important one to learn, because here really can’t be used as a replacement, or you’re going to get some strange looks!

本 běn is used for when you are talking about books, magazines, notebooks etc.

  • 杂志 yī běn zázhì – A magazine
  • 笔记本 yī běn bǐjìběn – A notebook
本 běn:书 sān běn shū – Three books

#4 – 杯 bēi

If you want to advance your Chinese ordering beyond pointing at the menu and saying 这个 zhège, then this is a good word to start with.

杯 bēi is the measure word used for glasses or cups. This is an easy one to get used to as we use glass as a measure word in other languages.

  • 红酒 liǎng bēi hóngjiǔ – Two glasses of red wine
  • 啤酒 sān bēi píjiǔ – Three glasses of beer

To ask for a physical glass you need to add 子 zi at the end (杯子 bēizi).

杯 bēi:茶 yī bēi chá – A cup of tea

#5 – 瓶 píng

Similar to 杯 bēi, 瓶 píng is a good measure word to learn for when ordering drinks in bars or restaurants.

瓶 píng is the quantifier for bottles, it’s helpful to learn so that you can distinguish between ordering a bottle or glass of something.

  • 水 yī píng shuǐ – A bottle of water
  • 白葡萄酒 yī píng bái pútáojiǔ – A bottle of white wine
瓶 píng: 啤酒 liǎng píng píjiǔ – Two bottles of beer

#6 – 条 tiáo

Now, we’ve come onto a slightly more tricky and obscure measure word because the connection between words it’s used for doesn’t seem immediately obvious.

  • 鱼 liǎng tiáo yú – Two fish
  • 路 yī tiáo lù – A road
  • 河 zhè tiáo hé – This river
  • 裤子 liǎng tiáo kù zi – Two pairs of trousers

It may seem strange to have the same measure word for fish and road. What do they have in common?

However, it actually makes sense, in general this measure word is used for long, narrow or skinny objects and animals.

You’ll see that this measure word appears in quite a few different categories.

条 tiáo:鱼 liǎng tiáo yú – Two fish, 一领带 yì tiáo lǐngdài – A necktie

#7 – 件 jiàn


This is a measure word that has quite a few broad uses. 件 jiàn is used for some items of clothing, presents or problems/matters.

  • 衬衫 yī jiàn chènshān- A shirt
  • 事 – yī jiàn shì – One matter or problem

Unlike 条 tiáo, it isn’t clear how these words are all connected!

件 jiàn:礼物 sān jiàn lǐ wù – Three presents, 一毛衣 yí jiàn máoyī – A jumper

#8 – 块 kuài

Most people will be familiar with the measure word 块 kuài which is used as the colloquial classifier for 元 yuán. However, it is also used for big pieces of something, portions and wristwatches.

  • 钱 sān kuài qián – Three yuan
  • 石头 yī kuài shítou – A rock
块 kuài: 一百钱 yì bǎi kuài qián – 100 yuan, 一蛋糕 yí kuài dàn gāo – A piece of cake

#9 – 家 jiā

This is another word that most people will be familiar with as it’s the word for home or family.

But, 家 jiā is also a measure word and is used for families or business establishments.

  • 公司 zhè jiā gōng sī – This company
  • 酒吧 – yī jiā jiǔ bā – A bar
  • 人家 liǎng jiā rénjiā – Two families
家 jiā:宾馆 yì jiā bīnguǎn – A hotel

#10 – 只 zhī

In general 只 zhī is the go to measure word for animals, although not all animals. (You can have a look at the animals section to see which).

It is also used for body parts that come in pairs, to mean “one of a pair”.

  • 猫 – wǔ zhī māo – Five cats
  • 鸡 sì zhī jī – Four chickens
  • 耳朵 yì zhī ěr duo- An ear
只 zhī: 一狗 yì zhī gǒu – A dog, 一手 – yī zhī shǒu – A hand

#11 – 辆 liàng

The measure word 辆 liàng is used for vehicles with wheels, although not for trains (check out the transport section).

  • 摩托车 yī liàng mótuō chē – A motorbike
  • 自行车 sān liàng zì xíng chē – Three bicycles
  • 车 wǔ liàng chē – Five cars
辆 liàng: 一汽车 yí liàng qìchē – A car

#12 – 双 shuāng

This is the measure word for pairs. However, 双 shuāng is not used for all things you would say pair for in English. For example as we saw earlier the measure word for a pair of trousers is actually 条 tiáo.

  • 筷子 yī shuāng kuàizi – A pair of chopsticks
  • 鞋 yī shuāng xié – A pair of shoes
  • 手套 liǎng shuāng shǒutào – Two pairs of gloves
双 shuāng: 一鞋 yì shuāng xié – A pair of shoes

PRO TIP: If you select a word in Pleco many words will have the appropriate measure word at the bottom of the page

Chinese Measure Words – People and Animals

First up in our categories is people and animals. Some of these measure words we’ve already covered in the most common measure words section.


HanziPinyinMeaningExample Sentence
Person, general measure word人 yī rén
A person
wèiMore respectful than 个, and used only for people老师 sān wèi lǎoshī
Three teachers
míngPeople with status, typically used for a person’s occupation医生 yī míng yīshēng
A doctor
kǒuFamily members, household (rarely used in speech)三口人 sān kǒu rén
Three persons


There are four different measure words used for animals in Chinese.

  • 只 zhī – Used for most animals including birds
    • 一只鸟 yī zhī niǎo – A bird
    • 狗 yī zhī gǒu – A dog
    • 大象 yī zhī dà xiàng – An elephant
  • 头 tóu – Bigger animals, normally livestock
    • 猪 yī tóu zhū – A pig
    • 牛 yī tóu niú – A cow
  • 匹 pǐ – Horses, mules etc.
    • 马 yī mǎ – A horse
  • 条 tiáo – Fish, snakes
    • 蛇 yì tiáo shé – A snake
    • 鱼 yì tiáo yú – A fish
    • 龙 yì tiáo lóng – A dragon

Chinese Measure Words – Body Parts

Here are the six Chinese measure words used for classifying body parts in Chinese.

张 zhāng – Measure word for face, mouth
一张脸 yì zhāng liǎn – A face
一张嘴 yì zhāng zuǐ – A mouth

根 gēn – Thin, slender body parts e.g. finger, a hair

  • 一根手指 yì gēn shǒu zhǐ – A finger
  • 一根头发 yì gēn tóu fa – A hair

只 zhī – For body parts, this means “one of a pair”.
一只耳朵 yì zhī ěr duo – An ear
一只手 yì zhī shǒu – A hand


条 tiáo – Long, narrow body parts

  • 腿 yì tiáo tuǐ – A leg

双 shuāng – A pair of body parts
眼睛 yì shuāng yǎnjing – A pair of eyes
手 yì shuāng shǒu – A pair of hands

颗 kē – Small, normally round body parts

  • 牙齿 yì yá chǐ – A tooth
  • 心 yì xīn – A heart

Chinese Measure Words – Food

This is the must read category for anyone who wants to improve their restaurant ordering skills.

  • 碗 wǎn – For food in bowl
    • 面 yì wǎn miàn – A bowl of noodles
    • 汤 yì wǎn tāng – A bowl of soup
  • 份 fèn – For a meal of a fixed menu in a restaurant
    • 米饭 yí fèn mǐfàn – An order of rice
  • 串 chuàn – Skewer
    • 肉 yī chuàn ròu – A skewer of meat
  • 盘 pán – dish, and can be used for a plate of food
    • 菜 yì pán cài – A dish
    • 饺子 yì pán jiǎozi – A plate of dumplings
  • 锅 guō – Pot, pan, boiler
    • 粥 yì guō zhōu – A pot of porridge
    • 汤 yì guō tāng – A pot of soup
  • 笼 lóng – Bamboo or wooden utensil for steaming food
    • 包子 yì lóng bāozi – An order of steamed stuffed buns
    • 蒸饺 yì lóng zhēngjiǎo – An order of steamed dumplings
  • 碟 dié – Small plate
    • 醋 yì dié cù – A dish of vinegar
    • 花生米 yì dié huāshēngmǐ – A dish of peanuts
  • 顿 dùn – Meal
    • 饭 yí dùn fàn – A meal
    • 早餐 yí dùn zǎocān – A breakfast
  • 片 piàn – Thin slice of food
    • 面包 yí piàn miànbāo – A slice of bread
    • 培根 yí piàn péigēn – A slice of bacon
  • 块 kuài – A portion, piece or thick slice of food
    • 蛋糕 yí kuài dàngāo – A piece of cake
    • 西瓜 yí kuài xīguā – A slice of watermelon
  • 包 bāo – Pack, packet or bag
    • 糖果 yì bāo tángguǒ – A pack of candies
    • 饼干 yì bāo bǐnggān – A pack of biscuits
  • 盒 hé – Box or carton
    • 牛奶 yì niúnǎi – A carton of milk
    • 巧克力 yì qiǎokèlì – A box of chocolate

In our most common measure words we already saw the words for bottle (瓶 píng) and glass (杯 bēi), here are a couple more:

  • 听 tīng – Can
    • 可乐 yì tīng kělè – A can of cola
  • 罐 guàn – Jar, pot, tin
    • 蜂蜜 yí guàn fēngmì – A jar of honey

Make sure to have a look at guide to reading a Chinese menu, for more tips on ordering food at restaurants.

We also have a handy menu cheat sheet, which you can save on Instagram.

Of course, if all else fails when trying to order food in a restaurant there is always the “这个 zhège” technique, which you can see Campbell using at the end of the video below.

Chinese Measure Words – Plants, Fruit and Vegetables


There are three Chinese measure words used for plants.

HanziPinyinMeaningExample Sentence
classifier for trees, grass etc. (also includes cabbages)树 yī shù
A tree
zhūsmaller trees/plants, flower still in the ground花 yī zhū huā
A flower
duǒfor flowers, clouds or things similar to them玫瑰 yī duǒ méigu
A stem of rose

Fruit and Vegetables

The measure words for fruit and vegetables tend to describe the size and shape of them. There are also some fruit or vegetables such as apples or aubergines, where you can just use 个 gè.

  • 根 gēn – Long slender objects; thin, flexible strands
    • 胡萝卜 yì gēn húluóbo – A carrot
    • 黄瓜 yì gēn huángguā – A cucumber
  • 颗 kē – Small objects, objects appearing small (hearts, pearls, diamonds, teeth, satellites, etc.)
    • 葡萄 yì pú tao – A grape
    • 樱桃 yì yīng táo – A cherry
  • 粒 lì – Gain; classifier for small round things (seeds, peas, bullets, peanuts, pills, grains etc.)
    • 大米 yí dà mǐ – A grain of rice
    • 黄豆 yì huáng dòu – A soya bean
  • 头 tóu – Bulb
    • 蒜 yì tóu suàn – A bulb of garlic
    • 洋葱 yì tóu yángcōng – An onion
  • 瓣 bàn – For segment, section, clove (normally 儿 is added)
    • 儿蒜 yí bànr suàn – A clove of garlic
    • 儿橘子 yí bànr júzi – A slice of orange
  • 把 bǎ – For a quantity of things that can be held in one hand
    • 香蕉 yì xiāngjiāo – A bunch of bananas
    • 青菜 yì qīngcài – A bunch of green vegetables

Chinese Measure Words – Vehicles and Buildings


We already saw the measure word for most wheeled vehicles in our most common measure words sections.

But what about the measure words for other modes of transport in Chinese?

Hanzi & PinyinMeaningExample Sentence
辆 liàngUsed for most wheeled vehicles汽车 yí liàng qì chē
A car
艘 sōuUsed for ships and vessels轮船 yì sōu lún chuán
A steamer
列 lièUsed for trains etc. ( is used for a series or row of things) 火车 yí liè huǒ chē
A train
架 jiàUsed for airplanes (also used for pianos and machines)飞机 yí jià fēi jī
An aeroplane


If you’ve ever written put your address in Chinese for a food delivery app or Taobao, then you may have seen some of these measure words for buildings included in your address.

  • 座 zuò – Measure word for big buildings, mountains, bridges
    • 大厦 yí zuò dà shà – A mansion
    • 桥 yí zuò qiáo – A bridge
    • 寺庙 yí zuò sìmiào – A temple
  • 栋 dòng – Measure word for buildings
    • 房子 yí dòng fángzi – A house
    • 别墅 yí dòng biéshù – A villa
  • 间 jiān – Room
    • 屋子 yì jiān wūzi – A room
    • 教室 yì jiān jiàoshì – A classroom
  • 所 suǒ – For buildings whose purposes are explicitly stated
    • 学校 yì suǒ xuéxiào – A school
    • 医院 yì suǒ yīyuàn – A hospital
  • 家 jiā – As seen in our most common words this is the measure word for families or businesses
    • 宾馆 yì jiā bīnguǎn – A hotel
    • 公司 yì jiā gōngsī – A company
    • 电影院 yì jiā diànyǐngyuàn – A cinema

Chinese Measure Words – Household Items


  • 台 tái – Heavy objects (TVs, computers, etc.)
    • 电脑 yì tái diànnǎo – A computer
    • 电视 yì tái diànshì – A television
  • 部 bù – Measure word for small devices, films, machines, dictionaries, etc.
    • 手机 yí shǒujī – A mobile phone
  • 盏 zhǎn – Lamp
    • 台灯 yī zhǎn táidēng – A standing lamp

Daily use items

  • 把 bǎ – Most commonly used to quantify objects that can be grasped or objects with a handle
    • 椅子 yì bǎ yǐzi – A chair
    • 勺子 yì bǎ sháozi – A spoon
  • 床 chuáng – Used for bedsheets (床 chuáng is also the word for bed)
    • 棉被 yī chuáng miánbèi – A cotton blanket
  • 条 tiáo – Towel, tablecloth
    • 毯子 yī tiáo tǎnzi – A blanket


  • 张 zhāng – Rectangular or flat objects (we saw this one earlier in the most common Chinese measure words list)
    • 饭桌 yì zhāng fànzhuō – A dining table
    • 沙发 yì zhāng shāfā – A sofa
  • 扇 shàn – Door or window: open and close on hinges
    • 门 yí shàn mén – A door
    • 窗 yí shàn chuāng – A window
  • Some furniture uses the generic as well
    • 衣柜 yí yīguì – A wardrobe
    • 书架 yí shūjià – A bookshelf

Chinese Measure Words – Clothing and Jewellery

In the most common measure word section we will have seen the word 件 jiàn which can be used for most articles of clothing. However, here are some other measure words also used for clothing.

Hanzi & PinyinMeaningExample Sentence
件 jiànArticle of clothing衣服 yī jiàn yīfú
An article of clothing
条 tiáoA long article of clothing or jewellery领带 yī tiáo lǐngdài
A necktie
套 tàoA set/suit of clothing西装 yī tào xīzhuāng
A suit
双 shuāngA pair袜子 yī shuāng wàzi
A pair of socks
只 zhīOne of a pair手套 yī zhī shǒutào
A glove
顶 dǐngFor things that have a top e.g. hats帽子 yī dǐng màozi
A hat
枚 méiSmall objects e.g. rings, brooches戒指 yī méi jièzhǐ
A ring
对 duìFor certain pairs of objects耳环 yī duì ěrhuán
A pair of earrings

If you have an interest in clothes or just want to know vocab for some online shopping, have a look at our guides to clothes in Chinese and jewellery in Chinese.

Clothes in Chinese 👗 The Complete Guide to 101 Different Clothing Items (with Quiz) Thumbnail

Clothes in Chinese 👗 The Complete Guide to 101 Different Clothing Items (with Quiz)

The Ultimate Guide For Talking About Clothes in Chinese Perhaps you’re just interested in knowing different types of clothes in Chinese, or maybe you want to know specific vocab to use when shopping for clothes on Taobao. Either way our…

Chinese Measure Words – Time

These are definitely some important measure words to learn. Be careful though, as some of them are only used in writing, and aren’t really used in spoken Chinese.

  • 秒 miǎo – Second 一钟 yī miǎo zhōng – One second
  • 分 fēn – Minute 一钟 yī fēnzhōng – One minute
  • 天 tiān – Day 一tiān – One day
  • 日 rì – Day 一– One day (used in written form)
  • 周 zhōu – Week 一zhōu – One week (used in written form)
  • 年 nián – Year 一nián – One year
  • 代 dài – Era, generation 上一shàng yīdài – The previous generation
  • 次 cì – Time 一– Once

Some words that indicate an amount of time can’t be used on their own and need to have the measure word 个 gè used as part of them:

  • 小时 yī xiǎoshí – One hour
  • 星期 yī xīngqí – One week
  • 月 yī yuè – One month
  • 年代 yī niándài – One decade
  • 世纪 yī shìjì – One century

Chinese Measure Words – Units of Measure

Next, are some Chinese measure words for units of measure. The weight units of measure are especially helpful to learn for shopping for fresh ingredients such as fruit and vegetables.


  • 斤 jīn – 0.5 kg
  • 吨 dūn – Ton
  • 磅 bàng – Pound (lb)


  • 寸 cùn – One inch (different length to western inch – 3.3333cm)
  • 尺 chǐ – One foot (different length to western foot – 1/3 m)
  • 里 lǐ – 0.5 km

As you can see a Chinese inch and a Chinese foot, is not the same length as those used in the west – so be careful you don’t get confused!


  • 块 kuài – Colloquial measure word for 1 元 yuán
  • 毛 máo – Colloquial measure word for 1 角 jiǎo (1/10 yuan)
  • 笔 bǐ – An unspecified sum of money

Volume and Degree

  • 升 shēng – 1 litre
  • 斗 dòu – 10 litres
  • 度 dù – Degree, level (e.g. temperature, degree of angle etc.)

More units of measurement can be found in our complete guide to measurements in Chinese.

Chinese Measure Words – Pairs, Collections and Groups


We’ve already seen two of these in the clothes and jewellery section, but they can also be used as measure words in other situations.

HanziPinyinMeaningExample Sentence
shuāngPair of identical objects筷子 yī shuāng kuàizi
Pair of complementary objects碗筷 yī wǎnkuài
Bowl and chopsticks
duìFor couples e.g. man and wife情人 yī duì qíngrén
Pair of lovers

Collections and Groups

In Chinese there are also quite a few different measure words for collections and groups of people or objects.

  • 些 xiē – A few
    • 東西 yī xiē dōngxī – A few things
  • 种 zhǒng – A kind
    • 动物 yī zhǒng dòngwù – A type of animal
  • 群 qún – Group, flock
    • 人 yī qún rén – A group of people
    • 羊 yī qún yáng – A flock of sheep
  • 众 zhòng – A crowd
    • 人 yī zhòng rén – A crowd of people
  • 组 zǔ – Set, series
    • 邮票 yī yóupiào – A set of stamps
  • 帮 bāng – A group or a band
    • 贼 yī bāng zéi – A group of thieves
  • 班 bān – A class
    • 学生 yī bān xuéshēng – A class of students
  • 排 pái – A row, queue
    • 电杆 yī pái diàn gān – A row of electrical posts
  • 队 duì – A team, battalion
    • 军人 yī duì jūnrén – A battalion of soldiers
  • 打 dá – A dozen
    • 鸡蛋 yī jīdàn – A dozen eggs
  • 叠 dié – Stack
    • 箱 yī dié xiāng – A stack of boxes/containers
    • 钱 yī dié qián – A stack of money

If you made it this far, congratulations, you’ve officially mastered the measure words in Chinese!

Now let’s see how if you can hear them in conversation here. Watch this video and write down all the measure words you spot!

So what did you think? Did you enjoy our guide? Did you learn anything new?

Drop us a comment below if you have any questions or even requests for further articles or videos – we are always all ears!

If you want to push your language skills even further, why not check out our guide to Vietnamese Measure Words as well – because learning more languages is just fun!


As that might’ve been a lot to take in (don’t worry, it gets easier)… we thought it’d be a good thing to spend some hours creating the perfect PDF for you guys to download, FREE!

Yes indeed, there is no catch, no email to hand over, no donations – we create them out of sheer love for the language, and our readers!

It took us some time to make so we really hope you like it and use it.

TEST YOURSELF – Our Measure Words Quiz

So we’ve done everything we can! We’ve held your hand until this far, but now it’s time to go it along and take on the Measure Words yourself!

Don’t worry, we believe in you!

This quiz is really simple to follow – every question has four options so just take a guess if you don’t know.

Results are immediate and if you like, why not share your score below?

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Chinese Measure Words – FAQ’s

What are Chinese measure words?

Measure words are a word that is put before all nouns in Chinese. An English example would be a cup of tea or a stick of gum.

How many Chinese measure words are there?

There are hundreds of Chinese measure words, in our blog we’ve picked out 12 must know words and 59 of the other most frequently used.

Do I have to know the correct Chinese measure word for every word?

No so don’t worry if you are learning them. Many advanced speakers don’t even know all of the measure words in Chinese.

If in doubt you can always default to 个 gè.

What is the Chinese measure word for teacher?

When talking about teachers you normally used the polite measure word wèi e.g. 三老师 sān wèi lǎoshī (three teachers).

What is the Chinese measure word for sofa?

The Chinese measure word for sofa is zhāng e.g. 一沙发 yì zhāng shāfā – A sofa.

What is the Chinese measure word for animals?

The Chinese measure word used for most animals is 只 zhī, however this isn’t used for all animals.

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  2. Millie Smith

    What is the best way to leanr measure words?

    1. Katie Coy

      Hi Millie,

      The only way to really learn measure words is to memorise them. A helpful way to learn them is to learn the correct measure word when you also learn a new noun. This way you can learn them both together, rather than having to go back and learn the measure word another time. We hope that helps 🙂


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