Clearing Up Confusion Between “liǎng 两” and “èr 二” for Children to Learn Chinese

Levi is a middle school student from Chicago studying in Hong Kong now. One day, he and his mother went to a restaurant for lunch. He noticed that there were no bowls on the table, so he said to the waiter: “Nǐhǎo, máfán gěi wǒ èr gè wǎn. (你好,麻烦给我们二个碗。) The waiter smiled and said: “Èr gè wǎn? Nǐ yīnggāi yòng ‘liǎng gè wǎn’ cái duì. (二个碗?你应该用 ‘两个碗’ 才对。)” Levi felt so confused that he asked Ms. Elsa in Chinese class the next day, why “liǎng 两” was the right thing to say instead of “èr 二” here. Well, it’s not difficult for native Chinese children to tell the differences between “liǎng 两” and “èr 二”, but foreign learners are easily confused by which one they should use as both of the characters are translated as “two” in English. Today, we will illustrate the correct ways to use each of them. 1. When used to represent numbers and serial numbers: (1)”liǎnɡ 两” is commonly used in front of “bǎi 百, qiān 千, wàn 万, yì 亿”. Example: Wǒmén xuéxiào yìɡònɡ yǒu liǎnɡ qiān ɡè xuéshēnɡ.我们  学校  一共 有 两 千 个 学生。There are two thousand students in our school. (2)In other cases, we usually use “èr 二”. Example: Wǒ zhècì kǎo le quán niánjí dì’èr.我 这次 考 了 全 年级 第二。I got second place in the grade this time. 2. When used in front of qualifiers: (1) To express the meaning of “two”, “liǎnɡ 两” is the right character to put in front of qualifiers or some nouns which can be used as qualifiers, instead of “èr 二”. Example: liǎnɡ nián两 年two years Wǒ liǎnɡ nián méi jiàndào nǎinai le.我  两  年 没 见到  奶奶 了。I haven’t seen my grandma for two years. liǎnɡ ɡè两 个two Wǒ yǒu liǎnɡ ɡè jiějie.我 有 两 个 姐姐。I have two sisters. (2)In front of qualifiers used to describe weight, length, capacity, we can use either “èr 二” or “liǎnɡ 两”. Example: èr jīn二 斤two jin (one kilogram) liǎnɡ límǐ两 厘米two centimeters èr shēnɡ二 升two liters 3. We can use “èr 二” in front of some nouns to refer to a specific number, and the meaning is “the second one”. Example: èr lóu二 楼the second floor Wánjù diàn zài shānɡchǎnɡ èr lóu.玩具  店 在  商场  二 楼。The toy store is on the second floor of the mall. èrɡē二哥the second oldest brother Zhàn zài wǒ dàɡē pánɡbiān de shì wǒ èrɡē.站 在 我 大哥 旁边  的 是 我 二哥。The person standing next to my older brother is my second brother. Are your children be able to tell the differences between “èr 二” and “liǎnɡ 两” now? Let them have a quiz. For this Father’s Day, will you give your Dad a gift? Let’s see how Jack does it. Jack: 我今天去了商场,在()楼服装店花()百块买了一件外套送给爸爸。 A. 二   B. 两 See Answer and Analysis You May Want to Learn More :“Children Can Learn Chinese Better with These Class-Related Expressions”“Quiz-Rearrange Words to Form Correct Sentences””Tea Pets, a Fun Way for Kids to Learn Chinese”

Clearing Up Confusion Between “liǎng 两” and “èr 二” for Children to Learn Chinese

Levi is a middle school student from Chicago studying in Hong Kong now. One day, he and his mother went to a restaurant for lunch. He noticed that there were no bowls on the table, so he said to the waiter: “Nǐhǎo, máfán gěi wǒ èr gè wǎn. (你好,麻烦给我们二个碗。) The waiter smiled and said: “Èr gè wǎn? Nǐ yīnggāi yòng ‘liǎng gè wǎn’ cái duì. (二个碗?你应该用 ‘两个碗’ 才对。)”

Levi felt so confused that he asked Ms. Elsa in Chinese class the next day, why “liǎng 两” was the right thing to say instead of “èr 二” here.

bowls

Well, it’s not difficult for native Chinese children to tell the differences between “liǎng 两” and “èr 二”, but foreign learners are easily confused by which one they should use as both of the characters are translated as “two” in English.

Today, we will illustrate the correct ways to use each of them.

1. When used to represent numbers and serial numbers:

(1)”liǎnɡ 两” is commonly used in front of “bǎi 百, qiān 千, wàn 万, 亿”.

Example:

Wǒmén xuéxiào yìɡònɡ yǒu liǎnɡ qiān ɡè xuéshēnɡ.
我们  学校  一共 有 两 千 个 学生。
There are two thousand students in our school.

(2)In other cases, we usually use “èr 二”.

Example:

Wǒ zhècì kǎo le quán niánjí dì’èr.
我 这次 考 了 全 年级 第二。
I got second place in the grade this time.

2. When used in front of qualifiers:

(1) To express the meaning of “two”, “liǎnɡ 两” is the right character to put in front of qualifiers or some nouns which can be used as qualifiers, instead of “èr 二”.

Example:

liǎnɡ nián
两 年
two years

Wǒ liǎnɡ nián méi jiàndào nǎinai le.
我  两  年 没 见到  奶奶 了。
I haven’t seen my grandma for two years.

liǎnɡ ɡè
两 个
two

Wǒ yǒu liǎnɡ ɡè jiějie.
我 有 两 个 姐姐。
I have two sisters.

(2)In front of qualifiers used to describe weight, length, capacity, we can use either “èr 二” or “liǎnɡ 两”.

Example:

èr jīn
二 斤
two jin (one kilogram)

liǎnɡ límǐ
两 厘米
two centimeters

èr shēnɡ
二 升
two liters

3. We can use “èr 二” in front of some nouns to refer to a specific number, and the meaning is “the second one”.

Example:

èr lóu
二 楼
the second floor

Wánjù diàn zài shānɡchǎnɡ èr lóu.
玩具  店 在  商场  二 楼。
The toy store is on the second floor of the mall.

bowls

èrɡē
二哥
the second oldest brother

Zhàn zài wǒ dàɡē pánɡbiān de shì wǒ èrɡē.
站 在 我 大哥 旁边  的 是 我 二哥。
The person standing next to my older brother is my second brother.

Are your children be able to tell the differences between “èr 二” and “liǎnɡ 两” now? Let them have a quiz.

Chinese quiz

For this Father’s Day, will you give your Dad a gift? Let’s see how Jack does it.

Jack: 我今天去了商场,在()楼服装店花()百块买了一件外套送给爸爸。

A. 二   B. 两