On a typical day I use a lot of Chinese measure words (a.k.a. Chinese classifiers).

Some Chinese students will argue that learning measure words isn't important, but measure words do matter. Using them properly says a lot about your Chinese. Don't be one of those Chinese learners that only learns how to use 个 and assumes other measure words aren't important. Here's a rundown of the measure words I use every morning.

A Morning of Measure Words

I wakeup from a good nights rest, not remembering how many dreams I had (几 场 梦), which is fine by me. On most days, my one and only cat (一 只 猫 / 一 隻 貓) wakes me because he's hungry. He likes to eat while being petted, so I pet him 3 or 4 times to get him in the mood (我 摸 它 三 遍). I swear I'm not making this up: I actually have to pet my cat before he starts eating.

Afterwards, I open up my email to see if I got any urgent emails in the night (一 封 电子邮件). Then I get some breakfast ready. Usually I just drink water (一 杯 水) with breakfast, but sometimes I'll have soy milk. Breakfast is either a slice of peanut butter toast ( 一 片 土司) or a couple of Chinese dumplings (几 个 包子). Breakfast is the first meal of the day (第一 顿 饭), and I consider it to be pretty important.

While eating breakfast, I'll read Chinese news articles (一 条 新闻) online or I will watch part of a movie (一 部 电影). Afterwards, I'll go to the bathroom and brush my teeth--something I do twice a day (每天 刷 牙 两 次).

Most days I'll go to a coffee shop (一 家 咖啡店) to get some coffee. I'll ride a bus (一 辆 公交车), listening to podcasts on my mobile phone (一 部 手机), to get there.

Update: 6/28/2012

    This discussion on Reddit makes some good points:
  • Email usually uses the measure word 封 as in 一 封 电子邮件, 封 is used much more often than 件 for emails.
  • 场 is a more formal measure word dreams (一 场 梦), and is used 47% of the time (according to 3000 Hanzi's written corpus). 个 is used with 梦 50% of the time in writing and is used even more commonly in speach.

What does your daily does of measure words look like? Leave a comment

Measure words used during my morning

  • 场: 几 场 梦. 场 (chang2) is used here for counting events and occurences (wars, weather, dreams, diseases, etc.). 场 has a lot of other common uses as well. I recommend you check out more examples for the measure word 场 (chang3: note the tone difference) can also be used for physical or recreational activities (like sporting events 一 场 足球 比赛, games 一 场 游戏, or parties 一 场 晚会 )in a lot of different ways.
  • 只 / 隻: 一 只 猫 / 一 隻 貓. 只 is used for counting smaller animals like cats, dogs and birds. (Examples for the measure word 只). 只 has a lot of other common uses as well.
  • 遍: 我 摸 它 三 遍. 遍 is used for counting the number of times an action occurs. (Examples for the measure word 遍)
  • 封: 一 封 电子邮件. 封 is used for letters or correspondence, including emailsmeasure word 封
  • 杯: 一 杯 水. 杯 is used for counting cups of liquid. (Examples for the measure word 杯 )
  • 片: 一 片 土司. 片 is used here for counting slices of something (bread, meat, etc.). 片 has a few other common uses as well. I recommend you check out more examples for the measure word 片.
  • 顿: 第一 顿 饭. 顿 is used here for counting meals. (Examples for the measure word 顿)
  • 条: 一 条 新闻. 条 is used here for counting abstract items likes (news, reasons, lives etc.). 条 has a few other common uses as well. I recommend you check out more examples for the measure word 条.
  • 部: 一 部 电影, 一 部 手机. 部 is used here for counting movies and also for counting smaller machines. (Examples for the measure word 部)
  • 次: 每天 刷 牙 两 次. 次 is used to for counting the number of times an action occurs. (Examples for the measure word 次)
  • 家: 一 家 咖啡店. 家 is used for counting shops, and other commercial establishments. 家 has a few other common uses as well. I recommend you check out more examples for the measure word 家.
  • 辆: 一 辆 公交车. 辆 is used for counting vehicles. (Examples for the measure word 辆)

What does your daily does of measure words look like?

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