In the beginning of my Chinese studies, I was always wondering, how to get around with all those measure words. At first, I didn’t even know, which measure words exist besides 个.
Then, after searching the web, I found several websites, which list the most common measure words along with their usual words they occur with. For each measure word, there is usually a description of the words it classifies, e. g. 条 for long objects.
Thus, I added all the common measure words to my Anki list and included them in my learning process. At least, this way I learnt, which measure words exist. But it was easy to see, that this approach will not help me to find out quickly, what for example is the correct measure word for 裤子. Is it 件 or 条?
I thought a little bit about how to properly learn measure words and concluded, that they are best learnt for each individual word, just as everyone has to learn the articles for each noun in German. To compile a list of each noun and its classifier, I took the CC-CEDICT. Many entries list one or more measure words for the head noun.
The result now is a list “default” of classifiers. Each entry list a noun along with one classifier, which hopefully is the most common one for the particular noun.
Thus an entry looks like
裤子 条 tiáo classifier for long thin things (ribbon, river, road, trousers etc)
Including this in my Anki Deck, I display 裤子 as (一条)裤子 instead and thus learn a classifier for each noun. The definition helps me to check, what the classifier actually means and recognise, if it’s maybe not suitable for the word.
More information available on the GitHub page.