Classifiers are a vast topic in learning Chinese. Technically speaking, there are 9 types of classifiers.
As there are many more noun words than classifiers, it means that the same classifier is used for different nouns. It is common for children to practice the basic matches of various nouns and classifiers. This is what we usually start with when teaching children: the Numeratives (or Numerary Adjuncts).
While many nouns can share a common classifier, it is not unusual for the same noun to be used with various different classifiers. In that case, there are often subtle differences in the implied meanings of each different classifier. The accurate use of classifiers is therefore important in effective communication. Below are some examples:
For additional activities to get your children started practicing classifiers 量詞, please read our other post Fun Ways to practice Chinese Classifiers which offers three fun games.
片 & 張
張 and 片 share some common "properties": they are used for objects which are thin and broad. At the same time, they are also used for other nouns.
In the above examples, 片 can be used for:
- something that is thin, such as biscuits (crackers) or leaves
- something that's vast and goes on and on, such as the ocean, the meadow, the land
- apart from concrete objects, 片 can also be used with abstract nouns, such as laughter, light, hope, darkness.
- paper related objects, such as photo, picture, paper, name card, ticket
- something relatively thin and broad: blanket, bed sheet, table cloth
- body parts such as the face, the mouth, and the hand
- other commonly nouns that use 張 include: bow, table, chair
The best way to grasp the use of classifier is through extensive reading and practices. Below is a little poem that focuses on the use of 片, written especially for children who are studying Confident Reader or Fluent Reader. Please feel free to download and print it out for your child to practice reading out loud ~