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3.7.6: Comparing "er" and "liang"

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    In Chinese, there are two words for "two." They are 二 (èr) and 两 (liǎng), and each is used in different circumstances.

    Uses of 二 (èr)

    二 (èr) Is for Numbers

    The digit "2" is 二 (èr). This is used generally in numbers, when counting to ten, giving out a phone number, and so on.

    Unlike 两 (liǎng), 二 (èr) is not used to say there are "two" of something, and does not generally occur with measure words by itself. Numbers like 十二 (12) (shí'èr) and 二十二 (22) (èrshí-èr) end with a "2" and can still be combined with measure words. In those cases, 两 (liǎng) is not needed.


    Here are some common examples of 二 (èr) in action:

    • dì-èr#2; second
    • 个dì-èr gèthe second one
    • 次dì-èr cìthe second time
    • ÈryuèFebruary (the second month)
    • èr hào#2; the second (of the month)
    • 号 线èr hào xiànLine 2 (of the metro)
    • èr lóusecond floor
    • shí'èr12
    • èrshí20
    • 块 钱shí'èr kuài qián12 RMB
    • 十 块 钱èrshí kuài qián20 RMB
    • 个 人èrshí-èr gè réntwenty-two people

    Uses of 两 (liǎng)

    两 (liǎng) Is for Measure Words

    When specifying quantities (and using measure words to do it), 两 (liǎng) is used. This is when you want to say "two of something" or "both."

    Here are some common examples of 两 (liǎng) in action:


    • 个 小时liǎng gè xiǎoshítwo hours
    • liǎng diǎn2 o'clock
    • liǎng tiāntwo days
    • 个 星期liǎng gè xīngqītwo weeks
    • 个 月liǎng gè yuètwo months
    • liǎng niántwo years
    • liǎng cìtwo times / twice
    • 块 钱liǎng kuài qián2 kuai / 2 RMB
    • note: 二百 (èrbǎi) is also acceptable.liǎngbǎi200
    • liǎng qiān2,000
    • 个 都 要 。Wǒ liǎng gè dōu yào.I want both of them.

    This page titled 3.7.6: Comparing "er" and "liang" is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by .

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