Posts Tagged ‘ animals ’

(#29) Counters / 位,只,支,枝

Although counters look like vocabulary where you can look up in the dictionary, but counters are really grammar lessons, but there is no way to cover them all in one entry.


Let’s get to it:

wei4 is a counter for people in a polite form, but then again when you are referring to people, it is always better to be more polite than less so.

老师 yi4 wei4 lao3 shi1 a teacher
路人 yi4 wei4 lu4 ren2 a passerby
客人 yi4 wei4 ke4 ren2 a customer

In all three examples above, you can use 个 ge4 in replacement, less polite, and more sweeping.


zhi1 is used for animals, insects, human limbs, one half of a pair, etc

zi4 zhi1 gou3 a dog
zi4 zhi1 mao1 a cat
蝴蝶 zi4 zhi1 hu2 die2 a butterfly
蚂蚁 zi4 zhi1 ma3 yi3 an ant
zi4 zhi1 shou3 a hand
手臂 zi4 zhi1 shou3 bi4 an arm
zi4 zhi1 jiao3 a leg
zi4 zhi1 xie2 a shoe (a half of a pair)
耳环 zi4 zhi1 er3 huan2 an earring (a half of a pair)


zhi1 sounds the same as 只 zhi1, but it is used differently. It is typically used in long slender items, and in some weapons, and also to represent ‘troops’

yi4 zhi1 bi3 a pencil
yi4 zhi1 qiang1 a gun
部队 yi4 zhi1 bu4 dui4 a troop of army


I hate to do this to you, but let’s get it over and done with, there is another counter pronounced as zhi1, which is 枝. It is used for long slender items, which are made of wood. Digress a little, if you compare 支 with 枝, you will see that the latter has a radical to it, and this particular radical means 木’wood’. But because this blog is not about reading chinese, but about listening and speaking mandarin, I won’t go into details here.

yi4 zhi1 jian4 a stick of arrow
树枝 yi4 zhi1 shu4 zhi1 a stick of twig


That’s all for this lesson, more counters to come in future entries.