个 (measure word)

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Arabus

Senior Member
Arabic-Aleppo
Hello,

Sometimes 个 appears when it is not expected.

e.g.

一个厨房 instead of 一间厨房
一个卫生间 instead of 一间卫生间
一个收音机 instead of 一台收音机
一个杯子 instead of 一支杯子
etc.

I saw the other variants in the dictionary. I wonder what will happen if I use the uncommon classifier instead of 个. If I say 一支杯子 instead of 一个杯子, what will natives think? Will I sound formal, humorous, or ...?

Thanks
 
  • Ghabi

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    Hi. While 个 is the normal classifier for many things, it is also used as an ad hoc, stop-gap classifier when you don't know what specific classifier is used for a certain thing. There are also regional and age differences: some speakers tend to use 个 for almost everything.

    In your example, 个 is the normal classifier for 杯子, so there's no reason to replace it with another. On the other hand, you can say either 一台收音机 (normal) or 一个收音机 (ad hoc).
     

    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    For 杯子, some people do say 一个杯子, some say 一支杯子. It depends.
    I think in all your cases, 个 would be acceptable, although probably not the best choice.
    There ARE some cases when 个 will NOT be acceptable. For example, if the classifier is discribing some special shapes... You can't say 一个纸 instead of 一张纸 (a piece of...).
    You can't say 一个地 instead of 一片/块地 (discribing space).
    You can't say 一个光 instead of 一片/束光 (things with uncertain boundary).
    You can't say 一个牛 instead of 一只/头牛 (animals).
    Etc.
     

    BODYholic

    Senior Member
    Chinese Cantonese
    what will natives think? Will I sound formal, humorous, or ...?
    一个 literally means 'one unit of' and it is *the* most versatile classifier for countable nouns. If someone says 一个马 or 一个牛 (in lieu of 匹 and 头 respectively), they sound rather unrefined but most native speakers would understand them right away. Personally, I think young kids and new Chinese language learners are likely to make use of it because of their limited vocabularies.

    Say, you are shopping for a table at IKEA and you found one you like but you couldn't recall the classifier for table. Just say "请问这"个"桌子 ...?". Like what Ghabi said, it comes in really handy during ad hoc situations. We say 一张桌子, by the way.
     

    verastar

    Member
    Mandarin Chinese
    Sometimes we do say 一zhi杯子, but I suppose it should be "一只杯子" instead of "一支杯子"?
     
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