Did you know that by the end of Primary 2, students encounter over 40 measure words in their Chinese textbooks and activity books? Are measure words difficult to learn? Not really – with adequate practice, students will learn what measure words to use for a particular context. They are very frequently used but often overlooked.
Measure Words or 量词are a unique feature of the Chinese language. These are words like 个, 朵and 件. These words are used together with nouns (i.e. people, animals, places or things) to indicate quantity, e.g. 三个人, 两朵花, 一件衣服.
Certain nouns go with certain measure words, e.g. you generally use :
- 辆 for vehicles
- 把 for things with handles (such as scissors, brooms and umbrellas)
- 张 for furniture.
Some nouns require different measure words depending on their form, e.g. :
- a ‘manual’ fan is 一把扇子 VS an electric fan is 一架电风扇
- to talk about people, you often use 一个人, VS the more respectful term 一位老婆婆.
Next question: How should I use the series to help my child? To make it fun for your child, and relevant to everyday life, you may try out the following:
- At a carpark
Point to a row of cars and tell your child that this is 一排汽车. Let your child guess the meaning of 排, which is ‘a row of’. Next, challenge your child to find other things he or she can use the measure word 排 (e.g. a row of trees, 一排树; a row of chairs 一排椅子; a row of houses一排屋子).
- Back at home
You can reinforce the idea of 排by giving your child some fruit e.g. a few apples and asking him or her to arrange them to form一排水果/苹果.
You might ask: Where can I find resources on measure words? Learn Measure Words Through Pictures is a series of 2 books (for Primary 1 and Primary 2 respectively). This series provides a concise coverage of measure words lower primary students should know.
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