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To most Chinese language learners, measure wordsare sure to be a challenge as there is no such thing in English. But in mandarin Chinese, to define the quantity, one must use both the numbers and the measure words.
Say, 一个外国人(yī gè wài guó rén) – a foreigner, 一本书(yī běn shū) – a book, 一包烟(yī bāo yān) – a packet of cigarettes, 一张床(yī zhāng chuáng) – a bed, etc.
So, here is a little quiz to test how well you do on Chinese measure words. Say, when you pass by some store, and you hear words as below:
A．羊毛衫 B. 件件 C. 样样 D. 全部
This is a choice question; all you need to do is choosing the right answer. I can provide the Pinyin for it so that you can know how they are pronounced.
羊毛衫大减价了啊(yáng máo shān dà jiǎn jià le ā)，件件十元(jiàn jiàn shí yuán)，样样十元(yàng yàng shí yuán)，全部十元了啊(quán bù shí yuán le ā)。
Question: What is sold at the price of ten Yuan?
A．羊毛衫(yáng máo shān) B. 件件(jiàn jiàn) C. 样样(yàng yàng) D. 全部(quán bù)
Well, you may have learned the Chinese measure words and know that 件(jiàn) is a measure word matched for coat (一件衣服 yī jiàn yī fu), thing (一件事情 yī jiàn shì qíng), etc. But do you know what “件件(jiàn jiàn)” means in English? Same question for 样(yàng) vs. 样样(yàng yàng).
The key to solving this is you need to know that in Chinese, if a measure word is repeatedly used in the form of “AA” like 件件(jiàn jiàn) and 样样(yàng yàng), it means “every / each”. So the English Chinese translationof “件件十元(jiàn jiàn shí yuán)” can be “each item is sold at the price of ten Yuan”. And for “样样十元(yàng yàng shí yuán)”, it means “the prices of every type of woolen sweaters (羊毛衫- yáng máo shān) are all the same – ten Yuan”. In this context, 件件, 样样, 全部 are all talking about the same thing, the sweaters. So the correct answer is “A”.
In addition, if a measure word is used in the pattern of “一 + AA” like “一个个(yí gè gè)”, “一件件(yí jiàn jiàn)”, then means like “one by one, one after another”.
E.g. 他们一个个都走了 (tā men yí gè gè dōu zǒu le) 。
They all left one after another.
她把衣服一件件地都洗了(tā bǎ yī fu yí jiàn jiàn de dōu xǐ le)。
She washed all the coats one by one.
It’s always hard to memorize all those confusing measure words. However, even though this is difficult on one hand, on the other hand, this makes the dull learning process more interesting.
Chinese Measure words blog post was originally published on Study More Chinese Blogs
("measuring up" by woodleywonderworks)
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