Learning Chinese Measure Words

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.

6 thoughts on “Learning Chinese Measure Words

  1. Birgit

    Hallo Timo,

    vielen Dank für die tollen Anki Karten,
    ich starte gerade mit Deinen Grammatikkarten,
    super gemacht, echt gut durchdacht!
    Mit den MW or CF habe ich auch so meine Sorgen,
    das HSK-deck das ich benutze listet kaum welche.
    Bei kuzi hätte ich auf jian getippt, alle Klamotten kriegen
    bei mir jian, bis ich es dann mal irgendwann besser weiß.
    Ach ja, ich benutze den font simsun, ist das OK für die Karten?

    1. timoho Post author

      Die Idee mit den Grammatikkarten habe ich aus dem Buch “Fluent Forever” von Gabriel Wyner, wirklich sehr interessant!

      Zwei Fonts sind in dem Deck bereits enthalten, z. B. für die Lautschrift. Manche chinesischen Zeichen werden bei mir auch nicht angezeigt, ich habe aber noch keine Lösung dafür gefunden.

      1. Birgit

        Hallo Timo,

        bei der Karte
        Numbers: How to express discount of a price? 折
        ist es 十 anstelle von 点
        falls Du das ändern möchtest.
        Kannst diesen Kommentar einfach löschen (because it will not selfdestruct in 10 seconds).

  2. Richard

    Hey Timo,

    I decided to use Anki and the (enormous) deck that you have created looks exactly like what I need. However, the it keeps crashing when I try to import your deck. Has this happened more often with your deck and how did you fix it?

    Looking forward to learning from your deck!

    Kind regards,

    1. timoho Post author

      Did you import it on the desktop or your mobile? Maybe start with the desktop first and then sync to your mobile.

      If that still doesn’t work, maybe I can remove the media from the and offer it as a separate download.


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