In the Chinese language, a measure word (量词 liàng cí) is usually used with numerals to define the quantity of a given object or objects. Below is a table of the most common Chinese measure words and a brief description of their proper usage.

ChinesePinyinMain usesExamples
"handful" — objects that can be held, relatively long and flat objectsknife 刀, scissors, sword, key 钥匙, umbrella 伞, fan 扇子, spoon 勺子, fork, toothbrush, hammer, padlock, pair of scissors, pistol, rifle, chair 椅子, handful of rice 一把米, handful of sand 一把沙, bunch of flowers, handful of seeds, bunch of chopsticks, skeleton, fire, teapot 茶壶
bān scheduled services (trains, etc.), group of people, a class as in pupils
bāopacket, package, bundlesweets, cigarettes 烟, sugar 糖, cookies
bēi "cup", "glass" — drinks/beveragestea 茶, wine, alcohol 酒, water 水, milk 牛奶, fruit juice 果汁, soda 汽水, Coca -cola 可口可乐
běn "volume" — bound print matterbook 书, magazine 杂志, novel 小说, scripture 经文, dictionary 字典, notepad 笔记本, textbook 课本
笔 (筆)strokes of characters; large quantities of money12 strokes 十二笔; a large quantity of money 一笔钱; a deal 一笔交易
machinery, vehicles; productionsmobile phone, telephone, car 轿车, play 话剧, novel 小说, movie/film/motion picture 电影, opera 歌剧, literary work 著作
volumes of books
层 (層)céng "floor"/"story"; "layer"9 stories (in a building) 九层楼; layer of dust 一层灰, seven layer cake 七层蛋糕, coat of paint 一层油漆
场 (場)chǎng short duration event; precipitationpublic spectacle, game, crisis, war, catastrophe, an illness 一场病, performance, play 戏; a rainfall/rain shower 一场雨, snowfall
chuàn sets of numbersa cell phone/mobile number 一串手机号码
chuáng "bed"blankets, sheets
"time" — opportunities, accidents
出 (齣)chū acts in a play
dozenpencils 铅笔, eggs 鸡蛋
dài sackfuls, pouchfuls, bagfuls, pocketfulssugar, flour 面粉, rice 大米
dàolinear projections (light rays, etc.); order given by an authority figure, question, memo; course (of food); long crooked things (mountain ridge, flash of lightning)
"droplet" water, blood, other such fluids
点 (點)diǎn ideas, suggestions; "a bit"/"some" (only with 一)a bit of work 一点点工作
dié saucer (soy sauce)
顶 (頂)dǐng objects with protruding top, something to put over one's headhat 帽子, tent, mosquito net 蚊帐
栋 (棟)dòng literally "pillar" (smaller building, house)
encompassing fixtures (wall without roof)
duàn "adjoining length" — cables, roadways, piece of chalk, part of a song
对 (對)duì "couple", "matched pair" (for certain things) coupletsa (married) couple 夫妇, earrings, vases 花瓶
顿 (頓)dùn short duration actionsa meal 一顿饭, conflict, beating, quarrel, scolding
duǒflower-like thingsa flower 一朵花, a cloud 一朵云彩, a mushroom 一朵木耳
"round"bullet, ammunition
fàng square thingsink stone, bacon
fèn portions, multi-page documentsserving of food, a newspaper 一份报, a job 一份工作
fēng things that can be sealedletter 信, mail, telegram 电报
fēnghumped animalscamel
picture-like objectsphoto, painting 画, drawing, banner 标语, work of art, picture, door poster 对联
"dose" — (Chinese) medicine
objects which come in pairs (gloves, etc.) also for spectacles, a pack of cards, mahjong
个 (個)ge/gèindividual things, people — general, catch-all measure word (usage of this classifier in conjunction with any noun is generally accepted if the person does not know the proper classifier)person 人, elder brother 哥哥, student 学生, relative 亲戚, way of thinking 想法, suggestion 建议, question 问题, nation 国家
gēn thin, slender objects; thin, flexible strandsneedle, pillar, banana, fried dough stick, fried chicken leg, popsicle, lollipop, chopstick, candle, incense; hair 头发, thread 线, string 绳
flows (of air, smell, influence)....
guà multi-component thingshorse and cart
guàn Small to medium "can of"soda 汽水, juice, food, beans, oil, candy
háng objects which form lines (words, etc.)
(small) "box of" tape, food 食物, cake 蛋糕, candy 糖果, chocolate 巧克力, toys 玩具, books 书, cigarettes 烟, detergent 洗衣粉, clothing 衣服
householdsthirty households 三十户家人
huǒ generally derogatory classifier for bands of people such as gangs or hoodlums
jiā gathering of people, establishmentsfamilies, companies 公司, store, shop 商店, restaurant 饭馆
jià machinery, vehicleaircraft, airplane 飞机, piano 钢琴, machines, computers
间 (間)jiānrooms, spacesroom 房间, dorm 宿舍, bedroom 卧室, kitchen 厨房, classroom 教室, house 房子, school 学校, company 公司, chapel 教堂
jiàn matters (affairs), clothing (tops), furnitureclothing (top) 衣服, undershirt 内衣, shirt 衬衫, coat 大衣, bed sheet 床单, luggage 行李, present 礼物, issue/matter/thing 事
jiǎnglong class periods
节 (節)jié "section" (of bamboo, short class period)
届 (屆)jiè regularly scheduled sessions or meetings, year-groups in a school (e.g. Class of 2006)
lines of poems, sentencessaying 成语, idiom
trees and other such florapine tree 松树, rose 玫瑰
颗 (顆)small objects, objects appearing smallhearts, pearls, teeth, diamonds, seeds, distant stars, distant planets
课 (課)lessons in a text23 lessons 二十三课课文
kǒu population of villages (numbers less than 100), family members, wells, mouthfuls of foodfive people (population of a family) 五口人
块 (塊)kuài irregularly shaped "chunk", "lump", "piece"land, stone, tofu, soap, piece/slice of cake 蛋糕, bread (not slices) 面包, watermelon 西瓜, meat 肉, cheese, pizza 比萨, gum 口香糖, tablecloth, wristwatch 表, block of incense
类 (類)lèiobjects of the same type or nature
"grain"a (single) peanut 一粒花生, grape, longan, uncooked rice 米, seed 种子, candy 糖果, bullet 子弹, chocolate 巧克力
辆 (輛)liàng wheeled vehicles (not trains)automobile, bicycle 自行车/脚踏车, car 汽车
lún moon
méimedals, small flat things like stamps, banana peels, rings, badges, rockets, missiles
门 (門)mén objects pertaining to academics (courses, majors, subjects, etc.); artillery (cannon)
miàn flat and smooth objects (mirror, flag, wall with roof, shield)
míng high-ranking persons (doctors, lawyers, politicians, royalty, etc.), members; in formal language, can also be used for any type of person (not necessarily high-ranking)party member 党员, university professor 大学教师
pái "rows of", "lines of" — objects grouped in rowschairs, seats 椅子, tables 桌子, lines of people 人
盘 (盤)pán flat objects or reels (video or audio cassette, small plate, coil of incense)
people, goods, etc.
horses and other mounts; rolls/bolts of clothhorse 马, wolf
piān writingspaper 论文, article 文章, essay, report
piàn "slice" — thin, flat, sometimes irregular objectscard, lip 嘴唇, cloud, beach, gum 口香糖, a slice of bread 一片面包, slice of meat, cracker, cheese, slice of watermelon, leaf 叶子, flower petal, field 麦田, lake, a pill (tablet of medicine) 一片药片, DVD
píng "bottle of"alcohol 酒, water 水, oil 油, beer 啤酒, drink 饮料, wine, soda 汽水, milk 牛奶, shampoo 洗头水, Pepsi 百事可乐
qún "group" (incl. people), "herd", "crowd", "throng", "swarm", etcpeople 一群人, a herd of cattle/elephants/horses/swans 一群牛、象、马、天鹅, a flock of birds/geese/hens/goats/swallows/sheep/chickens 一群鸟, a pack of hounds/wolves/grouse 一群猎狗, a skulk of foxes 一群狐狸, a pride of lions 一群狮子, a cluster of stars 一群星星, a school/shoal of fish/shrimps 一群鱼, a stud/drove of horses 一群马, a gaggle/flock of geese 一群鹅, a swarm of mosquitoes/butterflies 一群蚊子/蝴蝶, a colony of ants/bees 一群(窝)蚂蚁, a clump/complex of buildings 一群建筑物
rèn terms of officesecond president 第二任总统, terms
shàn things that open and close on hingeswindow 窗, door 门
shǒu things with versesmusical song 歌, poem 诗歌
shù bunches offlowers 花
双 (雙)shuāng pair of objects which naturally come in pairschopsticks 筷子, shoes 鞋, gloves 手套, eyes
sōu shipsa ship 一艘船
suǒ small buildings, institutionsuniversity 大学, detached house 房子
tái heavy objects, especially machines; performancesTV 电视, computer 电脑, piano, appliance, airplane 飞机, train 火车, car 车, elevator 电梯; theater performance, play
táng periods of classes, suites of furnitureI have two classes today, lesson 课, lecture
tàng trips, scheduled transportation services
tào"set(s) of"books, magazines, collectibles, clothes, multiple-room houses/apartments, suites, stamps 邮票, furniture 家具, rooms 房间, a suit 一套西装
题 (題)classifier for questions
条 (條)tiáo long, narrow, flexible objectsfish 鱼, snake 蛇, dragon 龙, worm, dog 狗, scarf, road 路, ribbon, river 河, root, stem 线, rope, comforter, towel, floss, trousers/pants 裤子, necktie 领带, skirt 裙子, sofa/bench, heroic person 一条好汉, a (smaller) boat 一条船
tièadhesive bandages
tõng conversation, lecture
tǒng jug, bucket, barreljug of milk 一桶牛奶, barrel of oil 一桶石油
头 (頭)tóu "a head" — certain animals; hairpig 猪, cow 牛, oxen, yak, sheep, donkey, mule, leopard, dinosaur; hair
团 (團)tuán "ball" — rotund and wound objects (balls of yarn, etc.)
wǎn "bowl of"rice 饭, noodles 面, soup 汤
wèipolite, respectful classifier for peopleteacher 老师, customer 顾客, colleague 同事
项 (項)xiàng projects
xiē some (only with 一, 这, 那, 哪)
样 (樣)yàng general items of differing attributes
页 (頁)pagemore than five hundred pages 五百多页
journal, day log, diary
zhāIn Cantonese usage, this is used in lieu of shù (束), e.g. a bundle of flowers
"jar", "jug" — drinks such as beer, soda, juice, etc. (A recent loan-word from English, it may be considered informal or slang.)
盏 (盞)zhǎn light fixtures (usually lamps), pot of tea etc.
zhàn stop (for buses and trains六站
张 (張)zhāng "sheet" — flat or paper objectspaper 纸, table 桌子, bed 床, card 卡, sofa 沙发, CD/DVD, napkin, snapshot, photograph 照片, ticket 票, painting, constellation, face, mouth, bow 弓
阵 (陣)zhèn "gust", "burst" — events with short durations (lightning storms, gusts of wind, instance of rain); uproar, peal of applause
zhī fairly long, stick-like objectspen, pencil 铅笔, chopstick 筷子, drinking straw 吸管, bamboo 竹子, rose, rifle, arrow, spear, artillery shell, missile, more humble songs (ditty)
zhī alternative form of 支 ("stalk"): can be used for rifles and roses
只 (隻)zhī one of a pair; animalshand 手, finger 手指, eye, foot 脚, head 头, sock, glove, shoe 鞋, earring, eyeglasses; bird, chicken 鸡, cat 猫, tiger, dog 狗, monkey, elephant, sheep, mouse, butterfly, frog, bug 一只虫, fly 苍蝇
种 (種)zhǒng "types of", "kinds of"things, books, people
zhū smaller trees/plants (tree, rice plant, wheat plant)
zhuáng multi-story building (楼房)
组 (組)sets, rows, series, batteries (military)
zuò mountain, hill 山, structure, large building 大楼, city, bridge, villa, high-rise, tower, temple, apartment block 公寓

Units of Measure

ChinesePinyinMain uses
bèi lifetime (辈子)
diǎn o'clock
fēn minute
"quarter","15 minutes" (mainly in some dialects, such as Shanghainese, and translations)
miǎo second
nián year
时辰 (時辰)shí chén "2 hours" (ancient)
世纪 (世紀)shì jì century
岁 (歲)suì years old
tiān day (十天时间)
小时 (小時)xiǎo shí hour
载 (載)zǎi year
钟 (鐘)zhōng hour (found in southern Chinese)
Weight, Mass
ChinesePinyinMain uses
bàng pound
吨 (噸)dūn ton
公斤gōng jīn kilogram
jīn "catty", "pound", 1/2 kilogram ( 1/2 kilo of apples 一斤苹果)
两 (兩)liǎng 50 grams
千克qiān kè kilogram
Lengths, Distances
ChinesePinyinMain uses
chǐ Chinese "foot"
chǐ British foot
cùn British inch
cùn Chinese "inch"
公尺gōng chǐ "meter"
公分gōng fēn centimeter (less common)
公里gōng lǐ "kilometer"
光年guāng nián"light year"
British mile
"lǐ", about 1/3 mile
厘米lí mǐ centimeter
秒差距miǎo chā jù "parsec"
天文单位 (天文單位)tiān wén dān wèi"astronomical unit"
英尺yīng chǐ British foot
英里yīng lǐBritish mile