Chinese Measure Words for Animals That Kids Need to Know

In Chinese, learning nouns is not enough. The reason is simple: every noun in Chinese has to stick with a measure word. As there are more than a hundred measure words in Mandarin Chinese, the only way to learn them by heart is to memorize them. And it is always a good idea to learn the measure word together with the nouns.[embedded content]Whare are Chinese Measure WordsIn Chinese, measure words are called 量词. Similar to English, Chinese uses measure words for types of objects. So, for “a cup of water”, it is “一杯水“ in Chinese. However, measure words are used more than that. For example, “An apple” is “一个苹果” and “a book” is “一本书”, etc. Often there are sets of measure words used for certain groups of nouns. In this article, let’s have a look at the common Chinese measures words for animals.4 Common Chinese Measure Words for AnimalsChinese Measure Word 只 (zhī)There are 4 common measure words when we describe animals in Chinese. The most common one is a generic measure word – 只 (zhī), which is the generic measure word for animals.The animal words that go with 个 are listed below:一只猫yì zhī māoa cat两只老虎liǎng zhī lǎo hǔtwo tigers三只瓢虫sān zhī piáo chóngthree ladybugs四只鸟sì zhī niǎofour birds五只蝴蝶wǔ zhī hú diéfive butterflies六只鸡liù zhī jīSix chicken七只老鼠qī zhī lǎoshǔSeven mice八只羊bā zhī yángEight sheep九只兔子jiǔ zhī tùzǐNine rabbitsNote that the measure word 只 (zhī) is normally used with smaller animals. For larger animals (pigs, cows, or elephants, for example), 头 is used.Chinese Measure Word – 头 (tóu)头 (tóu) refers to a head of something when used as a measure word. It is used for big animals such as livestock as well as wild animals.For example,一头猪yì tóu zhūa pig两头牛liǎng tóu niútwo cows三头驴子sān tóu lǘ zithree donkeys四头狮子sì tóu shī zifour lions五头大象wǔ tóu dà xiàngfive elephantsChinese Measure Word – 条 (tiáo)条 (tiáo) is the measure word for things in a long, narrow shape – fish, snakes, for example.一条鱼yì tiáo yúa fish两条蛇liǎng tiáo shétwo snakes三条蚯蚓Sān tiáo qiū yǐnThree earthworms四条毛毛虫Sì tiáo máo mao chóngFour caterpillarsChinese Measure Word – 匹 pǐ匹 pǐ is used with horses.一匹马yī pǐ mǎOne horseDifferent Uses of Measure wordsThere are some animals that can have two measure words.一只狗 or 一条狗?Both are used with dogs. 只 is used in most cases, more often with dogs as pets. 条 is used more for the dogs with a slender shape, and most often wild. 只 implies an emotional attachment; 条 is more indifferent. So, both 一只狗 (yī zhī gǒu) and 一条狗 (is correct.一只虫 or 一条虫?虫子 refers to all kinds of insects in Chinese. When we talk about bugs, we use 只; when we talk about worms, we use 条. That means, both 一只虫 yī zhǐ chóng and yī tiáo chóng are correct.只 is for 老虎 and 头 is for 狮子Tigers and lions are both wild animals. However, we describe 老虎 (tiger) with 只 and 狮子 (Lion) with 头. The reason is that 狮子 is bigger than 老虎. We should say, 一只老虎 yī zhī lǎo hǔ and 一头狮子 yī tóu shī zi.Chinese Measure Words For Animals FlashcardsThese flashcards are great for kids to use for practicing and mastering the combination of measure words and animals. There are two sets of flashcards: one has an image of an animal and its name in Chinese; the other has an image of the animal, pinyin, and Chinese words. These Montessori 3-part flashcards are effective for kids to learn Chinese vocabulary.Buy Chinese Measure Words for Animals FlashcardsIf you like this post, PIN IT!

Chinese Measure Words for Animals That Kids Need to Know

In Chinese, learning nouns is not enough. The reason is simple: every noun in Chinese has to stick with a measure word. As there are more than a hundred measure words in Mandarin Chinese, the only way to learn them by heart is to memorize them. And it is always a good idea to learn the measure word together with the nouns.

Whare are Chinese Measure Words

In Chinese, measure words are called 量词. Similar to English, Chinese uses measure words for types of objects. So, for “a cup of water”, it is “一杯水“ in Chinese. However, measure words are used more than that. For example, “An apple” is “一个苹果” and “a book” is “一本书”, etc. Often there are sets of measure words used for certain groups of nouns. In this article, let’s have a look at the common Chinese measures words for animals.

4 Common Chinese Measure Words for Animals

overview of measure words for animals

Chinese Measure Word 只 (zhī)

There are 4 common measure words when we describe animals in Chinese. The most common one is a generic measure word – 只 (zhī), which is the generic measure word for animals.

The animal words that go with 个 are listed below:

一只猫
yì zhī māo
a cat

两只老虎
liǎng zhī lǎo hǔ
two tigers

三只瓢虫
sān zhī piáo chóng
three ladybugs

四只鸟
sì zhī niǎo
four birds

五只蝴蝶
wǔ zhī hú dié
five butterflies

六只鸡
liù zhī jī
Six chicken

七只老鼠
qī zhī lǎoshǔ
Seven mice

八只羊
bā zhī yáng
Eight sheep

九只兔子
jiǔ zhī tùzǐ
Nine rabbits

Note that the measure word 只 (zhī) is normally used with smaller animals. For larger animals (pigs, cows, or elephants, for example), 头 is used.

Chinese Measure Word – 头 (tóu)

头 (tóu) refers to a head of something when used as a measure word. It is used for big animals such as livestock as well as wild animals.

For example,

一头猪
yì tóu zhū
a pig

两头牛
liǎng tóu niú
two cows

三头驴子
sān tóu lǘ zi
three donkeys

四头狮子
sì tóu shī zi
four lions

五头大象
wǔ tóu dà xiàng
five elephants

Chinese Measure Word – 条 (tiáo)

条 (tiáo) is the measure word for things in a long, narrow shape – fish, snakes, for example.

一条鱼
yì tiáo yú
a fish

两条蛇
liǎng tiáo shé
two snakes

三条蚯蚓
Sān tiáo qiū yǐn
Three earthworms

四条毛毛虫
Sì tiáo máo mao chóng
Four caterpillars

Chinese Measure Word – 匹 pǐ

匹 pǐ is used with horses.

一匹马
yī pǐ mǎ
One horse

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Different Uses of Measure words

There are some animals that can have two measure words.

一只狗 or 一条狗?

Both are used with dogs. 只 is used in most cases, more often with dogs as pets. 条 is used more for the dogs with a slender shape, and most often wild. 只 implies an emotional attachment; 条 is more indifferent. So, both 一只狗 (yī zhī gǒu) and 一条狗 (is correct.

一只虫 or 一条虫?

虫子 refers to all kinds of insects in Chinese. When we talk about bugs, we use 只; when we talk about worms, we use 条. That means, both 一只虫 yī zhǐ chóng and yī tiáo chóng are correct.

只 is for 老虎 and 头 is for 狮子

Tigers and lions are both wild animals. However, we describe 老虎 (tiger) with 只 and 狮子 (Lion) with 头. The reason is that 狮子 is bigger than 老虎. We should say, 一只老虎 yī zhī lǎo hǔ and 一头狮子 yī tóu shī zi.

Chinese Measure Words For Animals Flashcards

These flashcards are great for kids to use for practicing and mastering the combination of measure words and animals. There are two sets of flashcards: one has an image of an animal and its name in Chinese; the other has an image of the animal, pinyin, and Chinese words. These Montessori 3-part flashcards are effective for kids to learn Chinese vocabulary.

Chinese measure words for animals flashcards for kids