月 / 月份 (in month names)

Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by AlexL, May 23, 2009.

  1. AlexL Member

    UK, English

    Whenever I try to construct a sentence about "what happened in May" or "what happened in July" I always end up doing it wrong. From everything I've been told, it seems like the following sentences should be correct:


    However, whenever I say something like this, Chinese speakers tell me to say 六月份,七月份,五月份,etc.

    When should fen4 be used? Would you use it in sentences like "八月(份?)的时候,我有很多钱"?

    Any help clearing this up would be great!

  2. Agnès10 New Member

    French -France
    八月, 五月。。。
    These are the names of the months: August, May
    八月份 means "in August, during the month of August
    like 八月的时候 where "fen" is not needed.
  3. koinbouffier Senior Member

    Brisbane Australia
    Mandarin-Beijing (北京官话)
    I cannot really tell any problem in all those, except i would say "你们得五月把功课给我交上来" but that has nothing to do with the point that you are asking.
    I would say 安森和肯斯六月/六月份去了厦门。 i guess it might be because "*月份" is more formal while "*月" is more colloquial. Is that your Laoshi who corrected all those? Just remember that almost everything on the tests is a far cry from what we normally speak. Or maybe your examples listed there are not typical enough to get to the points that you're confusing with.
  4. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie Senior Member

    English (UK)
    The problem with this for English-speaking learners is in English we have just the name of the months to cover for both 月 and 月份 in Chinese, so there is the need to know when to use, for example, 六月 and when to use 六月份. Agnès10 above seems to have pointed out correctly the difference between 月 and 月份 but it's not necessarily easy to apply in practice, and what makes it even more confusing for English-learners is that 六月份 is sometimes also shortened to 六月 in informal speech.

    All the examples I've collected below originally had 月份 in it but I've dropped the 份 bit. So could Chinese native speakers please see if any of them sounds unatural without the 份 bit? It'd be even more helpful if you could, when possible, point out why 份 is needed:


    Last edited: May 24, 2009
  5. koinbouffier Senior Member

    Brisbane Australia
    Mandarin-Beijing (北京官话)
    1. 八月(份)是我最喜欢的一个
    6.我八月会度两个星期的假。(the original sentence sounds a bit English.)

    It seems that it is not easy for native speakers either. i'm not very sure about 7 and 8. Xiaolijie, you just confused me......
  6. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie Senior Member

    English (UK)
    Thank you for replying, koinbouffier! It's a comfort to know that it's not easy for native speakers also. As for the meaning of the collected sentences, here are the English translations as they came with the Chinese sentences:

    (August is the month I like the most)
    (My birthday is in October)
    (Her birthday is in January)
    (She will have a baby in March)
    (six years old in July)
    (I'm taking a two-week vacation in August)
    (I started working here in August)
    (I will come back in April)
  7. Geysere Senior Member

    Chinese - China
    Honestly I can't tell the difference between the two, and my choice sometimes depends on the length of my sentence. That is, if I have a long sentence I will just say "X月" and When the sentence is short I would use "X月份". It serves like a moderator :)
    I think except for saying a specific date (几月几号), we can always keep the "份".
  8. samanthalee

    samanthalee Senior Member

    Mandarin, English - [Singapore]
    There is a difference in usage for and 月份. But right now, I can't think of the "defining rule" for when to use which. It's quite similar to the problem of "in January" and "in the month of January" in English. Both mean the same thing, but there definitely is a difference in usage.
  9. BODYholic Senior Member

    Chinese Cantonese
    Perhaps we can derive a pattern from xiaolijie's post.

    It seems to me that events/activities that take less than a full month to engage, in theory, 月份 is the appropriate word.

    我四月份会去北京. (I am going to Beijing in April.). This is inline with Samantha's observation. Even if the intention is to stay in Beijing for 2 months after the visit. The act of going is transient. But we may continue to add,
    我会在那里呆上两个月份。:cross: This sounds wrong to me.

    Many native Chinese may have heard of 三月里的小雨。:tick: I don't think native speakers say, 三月份里的小雨。:cross: The function of 份 and 里 seems duplicating in this case. Oh not forgetting 九月风起时:tick: but rarely 九月份风起时。:cross:

    Just some observations that I hope it may help the thread-starter.
  10. AlexL Member

    UK, English
    Thanks for everyone's responses! They have certainly been helpful. I think it's truly odd that none of the textbooks I've seen discuss this issue, because some of the sentences I've formed with yue4 have sounded "just wrong" to native Chinese speakers. For now, I will use yue4fen4 to mean "in May/June/September" when the "in" is not already specified (using "li3" or "de shi2hou" etc). It seems mostly consistent with the examples given.

    I will also pay attention to the previous poster's insight that actions that last the whole month don't take fen.
  11. icelus Member

    Chinese - Mandarin
    Forget 份, just use 月 is ok in most situations! Whatever formal or informal condition.

    So, if you don't have to write some formal artical or something like that, you will needn't try to distinguish them.
    Last edited: May 27, 2009
  12. AlexL Member

    UK, English
    So icelus, does the following sound correct to you?


    Most people I've asked say you need fen4.
  13. WhisperBlade New Member

    Mandarin - China
    Dear Forums:

    月份 and 月 are actually of the same concept.

    月份 is the formal nomenclature for the months of the year. They are used in Tranditional Chinese dialect (I am not making a reference to the writing, only in terms of time frame). This is considered more appropriate when you are writing or speaking in a formal environment.

    月 is merely a simplified version of the above.

    In regards to their use in the daily language, both are considered correct as demonstrated below:


    The former, however, retains traditional linguistic value, while the latter is the modern day colloquial equivalent.

    Note that Chinese poetry exists dominantly in Pentameter or Heptameter. Chinese Proverbs are even shorter, existing highly dominantly in Quadrameter. In these cases, truncation of words becomes necessary to fit traditional poetic and proverbial schemes. Occassionally, the truncation of words like "份" in month addresses trickle into the daily dialect, and continue to change the grammatic structure of the language.
  14. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie Senior Member

    English (UK)
    Since you asked, I feel that it needs 份. But if I just hear it and without you asking, I'd certainly NOT see any problem with 我六月毕业。So, ordinarily, there's no problem with 我六月毕业。

    OK, I've thought a bit about the examples cited in this thread and here is my feeling. You can think about it and see if it's of any use to you but it's just a feeling:

    Concerning words for the months, we use them for 3 different things:

    1. as names for time: 八月(是我最喜欢的月份)
    2. as points in time: (我)四月份(会去北京).
    3. as amounts of time: (我会在那里呆上) 两个月

    Of these, use 份 when you refer to the month only as a point in time, as in 2 above.

    Whether it's a whole month or just 2 weeks, it shouldn't take 份 simply because they're about periods of time (as 3 above), and not points in time (as 2 above).

    I hope this will be helpful to you as a rough guide but do remember that in reality we human beings are not machines so you will see that we often don't follow exactly the outline above.
  15. WhisperBlade New Member

    Mandarin - China
    It's a matter of linguistic liaison. Some sounds better than the other in certain cases. Use whatever sounds better, because they are never wrong from a grammatical perspective.
  16. AlexL Member

    UK, English
    Thank you! This certainly helps. I suppose that I will eventually get a feel for it if I spend enough time speaking and reading Chinese, but for now I will use this as a guide.

    Thanks for everyone's input; it has been helpful!
  17. piano0011 Senior Member

    hey guy!

    With regard to months, I understand that you can use liang3 for years such as liang bai or er bai = 200 but can I say liang yue = February or it has to be er yue? thanks!
  18. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    Liangbai=200, but that is NOT for years.
    And liang is NOT for month, date, or day of the week.
    Er must be used.
  19. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    What do you mean by "years"? The duration or the calendar year?

    两年 = two years
    二零一六年 = year 2016

    两个月 = two months
    二月(份)= February

    两天 / 两日 (formal) = two days
    二号 (colloquial) / 二日 (written) = the 2nd day of a month.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2016
  20. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    Yes. The rule is:
    liang is ok for cardinal numbers, i.e. two pieces, two years, two hundreds of people...
    but NOT ok for ordinals, i.e. No.2, Year 2002, Day 2, (+002)643-4521....

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