Learning Mandarin: Measure words for people


I often hear people saying that a difficult part of learning Mandarin is getting used to all the measure words. There are a bunch of them, but I actually think it's easier than in English.

Does any English-speaking person really know all the collective nouns for things i.e. a flock of geese, but a murder of crows, etc.

Chinese has one standard measure word:

(Gè). It's pronounced a bit like the "ge" in "gert", and has a sort of guttural sound, and definitely not like the "ge" in "german".

It can be used for people. So I can say:

一个人 (Yīgè rén) which is literally like "one unit/measure person"

It can also be used for specific types of person:

一个男人 (Yīgè nánrén) for "one man"
一个女人 (Yīgè nǚrén) for "one woman"

If I'm referring to family members, I can use:

(kǒu) which is pronounced like rhyming with "row" as in "row a boat"

I can then say:

三口人 (Sānkǒu rén) for "three family members"

A more polite measure word for other people though would be:

(Wèi) which is pronounced like "way".

I can then say:

一位老女人 (Yī wèi lǎo nǚrén) for "an old woman"

Many of these types of measure words also have different meanings when not used as measure words.

For example: (Wèi) when used as a noun, can mean seat or place.

If I need to show status to someone, not just the respect that (Wèi)  implies, I can use:

(Míng) which is pronounced pretty much as you'd expect in English

I can then say:

一名法官 (Yī míng fǎguān) for "a judge"

Learning Mandarin

I'll write more soon on the best methods for learning Mandarin. If you want to get a taste for it in the meantime though, my current favorite site is iTalki, and my favorite teacher by far is Amy He. If you decide to try it, click here and it's cheaper for both you and me.



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