Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

4.10: Lesson 3 Grammar - Measure Word 个 (ge)

  • Page ID
    65629
  • 个 () is the most commonly used measure word. It can be used in a pinch for any noun if you can't think of a more precise measure word. (Although you might not sound quite as smart, you'll still get your point across). Also, for many nouns, 个 () is the only correct measure word.

    Structure 

    The general structure for 个 () and measure words in general is:

    Number + 个 + Noun

    Any time you want to state how many of a noun in Chinese, you probably need a measure word. First get used to how they are used with 个 ().

    Examples 

    • 一个人
      yī gè rén
      one person
       
    • 四个朋友
      sì gè péngyou
      four friends
       
    • 三个苹果手机
      sān gè Píngguǒ shǒujī
      three iPhones (lit. “three Apple cellphones”)
       
    • 五个星期
      wǔ gè xīngqī
      five weeks
       
    • 六个月
      liù gè yuè
      six months
       
    • 两个老婆
      liǎng gè lǎopo
      two wives
       
    • 十个男人,七个傻,八个坏。
      Shí gè nánrén, qī gè shǎ, bā gè huài.
      Ten men: seven are fools, and eight are bad.
      [Note: This is a a line from a song.]

    Omitting the Number 

    Structure 

    Verb + 个 + Noun

    If the number is one (1), you can omit it and use 个 () by itself. This is similar to "a" or "an" in English, for example in "a person" or "an idiot." (The tone on 个 () is normally somewhat de-emphasized in this usage, but still written as fourth tone. You don't need to stress about it, though.)

    Examples 

    • 他是个老外。
      Tā shì gè lǎowài.
      He is a foreigner.
       
    • 我有个儿子。
      Wǒ yǒu gè érzi.
      I have a son.
       
    • 她是个好老师。
      Tā shì gè hǎo lǎoshī.
      She is a good teacher.
       
    • 你想吃个包子吗?
      Nǐ xiǎng chī gè bāozi ma?
      Would you like to eat a stuffed steamed bun?
       
    • 老师,我有个问题。
      Lǎoshī, wǒ yǒu gè wèntí.
      Teacher, I have a question.

    [adapted from AllSet Learning Chinese Grammar Wiki, Creative Commons License BY-NC-SA 3.0]

    *     *     *

    Any Questions? 

    If you have any questions about this grammar point, please ask in the class forums!