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Chinese Grammar: Lesson: Distinguish 二 and 两

After learning some numbers in Chinese, Lupishu likes to present himself with numbers. He wanted to say 眼睛 (I have two eyes) but Master Yocha told him he can’t use in this sentence. Lupishu was very confused because he remembered two is . You may want to help Lupishu to make this sentence right.

After you know about the difference between and , you can help him to solve this problem, and I’m sure he will be delighted!

In Chinese, both (èr) and (liǎng) mean two, and each is used in different circumstances.

Uses of (èr)

in numbers

When counting in numbers, you use , such as 十二(twelve), 五十 (a hundred and fifty-two).

is also used in ordinal number, same as the second in English. For example, 第二 is the second and 第二次 is the second time.


Two hundred and thirty-two.

The second one.

Uses of (liǎng)

and measure words

Remember the measure words that we have learned before? should be put in front of measure words when specifying quantities. This is when you want to say "two of something" or "both." Now you can tell Lupishu why his sentence 眼睛 doesn’t work, can’t you?


Two people.

Two books.

Two cups of coffee.

Can you find three measure words in these examples? Have a try!

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