Measure Words - What's that?
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 whereas an electric fan is 一架电风扇; you often use 个to talk about people, but you may also use the more respectful term 位, e.g. 一个人, 一位老婆婆.
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.
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.
Next question: How should I use the series to help my child? Although the measure words in Learn Measure Words Through Pictures are arranged according to their pinyin order, parents are free to pick and choose whichever measure word they want to go through first. To make it more fun for your child, and relevant to everyday life, you may try out the following: e.g. You are 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. Finally, turn to page 19 (see sample page below, taken from Learn Measure Words Through Pictures 2) and go through the examples with your child. Pinyin for the examples are provided to help children read and understand the phrases and sentences. Check also if your child knows how to write the word 排. As an extension activity, ask your child what is the measure word used to describe a single house (一间屋子). The measure word 间is found on page 14 of the same book, which could be the next unit to go through with your child. There is no need to rush through the exercises in this series. These could be done after your child has gone through a substantial number of measure words in the book.
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*Book specifications: A4, 28 pages each