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Review: Learning Chinese Measure Words


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As part of Sinolingua’s very generous book giveaway I will review “Learning Chinese Measure Words”. Thanks kindly to both Sinolingua and also Chinese-forums.



The book is a typical study size – slightly larger than A4 and 267 pages. The book is concerned with measure words in Chinese and their correct usage. It contains some illustrations and the text itself is not packed densely on to each page. There is a preface, a phonetic index and useful table of “Types of Measure Words” before the meat of the book, an A to Z of measure words with examples and tips.  The A to Z is fairly comprehensive, containing descriptions, multiple examples and example sentences. There are also some short sections in conclusion, looking at collocations.


My View:

I think this is very much a reference book and in that sense it is useful. For a book of this nature you should ask what it can provide that a dictionary or perhaps internet resources cannot. In this case it is a well organised book and extensive. Each measure word is examined thoroughly, for example ban () explores how this measure word is linked to groups of people, with two example sentences followed by further examples of the groups to which it is linked. Following this there is a short vocab list for the words used in the previous example sentences. This is then repeated for the second meaning of ban as a measure word – for transport schedules.

This all serves purpose well but for me the comprehensive phonetic list and the “types” of measure word table make it useful. With this book if you hear a measure word you aren’t so clear about or if you think of something for which you aren’t sure of the measure word, you should be able to find the correct word and understand its usage fairly quickly.



I don’t think there is too much wrong – the book sets out to explain measure words and their usage, and it performs that task fairly well. Perhaps there could have been some more detail on common incorrect usage amongst Chinese speakers but that really is nitpicking.


The Chinese view:

My Chinese colleague suggests “foreigners that learn this will probably use measure words in a more accurate way than us Chinese”.



This is useful and well organised book. Ostensibly it is for beginners to intermediate learners however it would be a very useful resources for anyone interested in Chinese. It isn’t a book to read from cover to cover but would act as a decent guide as one works up through the HSK levels. 

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