Measure words are also called classifiers.
See also Numbers.
|go||個||(the most common of all measure words) for people; for medium-sized, round objects like fruit, bowls, plates and buns; for countries and regions; for abstract nouns like questions, ideas and decisions; for many things that are not easily categorized like drawers and screw drivers|
|bou||部||for books and magazines|
|bun||本||for books and magazines|
|dzek||隻||for mammals, birds and insects; for utensils; for some parts of the body like hands and legs; for boats|
|dzi||支||for slender, long and stiff objects such as pens, pencils, flowers, sticks; for songs, music; for armies, navies|
|dzœng||張||for flat things like papers, documents, dollar bills, swords, knives, CDs and records; for furniture like tables and chairs|
|fai||塊||slice, piece, lump|
|ga||架||for cars, vehicles, planes; for devices like computers, TVs and stereos|
|lp||粒||for very small things like grains of cereal, sand, cloves of garlic, diamonds, beads, stars|
|po||for plants, trees and vegetables|
|tiu||條||for long objects like ribbons, tapes, strings, ties, loaves of bread; for hair, feathers, bones; for keys, roads, fish and reptiles; rude or slang for people|
|tsöt||齣||for movies and plays|
|wi||for people in polite speech|
In English, there are some words we must count in units:
Note that it is impossible or ungrammatical to say something like "two news" or "four breads".
In Cantonese, nearly all words work this way. We must use a special counting unit before them. For example:
|three people||sam go yn|
|four dogs||sei dzek gu|
|two loaves of bread||lœng tiu min bau|
Whenever you learn new vocabulary, it is a good idea to also learn the associated measure word (MW) with it. For example:
|person||人||yn (MW: 個 go)|
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