Learn Chinese for Free—Lesson 15

Lesson 15 of 360

Today's Chinese characters:


The other Chinese characters contained in this lesson have already been studied previously. You can just click on them and go back to the corresponding lesson.

Today's last character looks like a man walking, doesn't it? Welcome, Mr. Long-Legs!

In this lesson, you're going to know what a measure word is and how to use two of them.

Character Knowledge Meter
Today with this lesson your knowledge of Chinese characters will reach 18.1% of all the Chinese language usage!

Characters' Essentials

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is generally used before measure words.
Don't use .
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Measure word used before nouns which do not have special measure words of their own (some nouns can be preceded by either it or other special measure words)
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Measure word for people, indicating respect
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Description and Examples

Question 1: "One person"中文怎么

Question 2: "Two persons"中文怎么

Let's answer the first question. Since you already know how to write "one" and I just told you that today's last character means "person", you may be tempted to say that the Chinese for "one person" is:


Sorry, it's wrong. In modern Chinese, a measure word is generally needed between a numeral and a noun. What's a measure word?

Measure words are words used as unit of measurement for people, things or verb's actions.

For example, Chinese language has specific measure words for:

  • books;
  • certain animals;
  • stick-like things;
  • things with a handle;
  • indicating the number of times a verb's action repeats...

A measure word is generally needed between a numeral and a noun. So, the correct Chinese phrase for "one person" is:

translation: one person

Suggestion: roll the mouse pointer over each character and read its pinyin.

Change of tones: A few characters change their tone under certain circumstances. , for example, when alone or at the end of a word or a sentence, is pronounced in the first tone; when it precedes a syllable of the first, second or third tone, it is pronounced in the fourth tone; it is pronounced in the second tone when it is followed by a fourth tone. For this reason, the phrase above is pronounced yí gè rén.

Other examples, without translation (your first test!):

Did you notice? The Chinese for "person" is , and the Chinese for its plural "persons" is as well! So, forget English language rules about plurals!

The other measure word, , is used only with people, indicating respect. The following two phrases have almost the same meaning, the first one denoting respect.

translation: one person

translation: one person

When we say that is used before people, it means that we can also say, indicating respect:

老师 translation: a teacher

医生 translation: a physician

Let's answer now the second question, "two persons"中文怎么

Well, the following phrase IS WRONG.


I heard you. Wrong? Why?!?

The usage of and , even if they both mean two, is different. is generally not used before measure words.

Infact, the correct Chinese phrase for "two persons" is:

translation: two persons

You now don't need any translation of the following phrases, do you? If you still do need the English translation, my suggestion is to spend a few minutes reviewing this course first lessons.






Do you often forget a character's meaning or pronunciation? I'd be surprised if you don't!

SOLUTION (only in the online version of this course): click on the character or on the word and a little window will pop up with its pinyin and a link to the lesson that explained it.

Our next object is to learn how to write the sentence: "She's my teacher."

Learning this sentence will help you to master:

  • Chinese personal pronouns;
  • How to use the verb to be;
  • How to use the #1 most used Chinese character 的.

Tomorrow you'll learn some more Chinese personal pronouns, including "she".

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Lesson 15 of 360

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