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Classification in language

Classification in language

by Chad Ryan


Classification, as the act of forming classes according to common relations, is a recurrent attribute of language syntax across different languages. Classification in language contributes to dimensions of quantity and sort, and may be both descriptive or notional.

There exist a number of numeral classifiers in English language that have become so assimilated with certain nouns that they ought to be learnt as inherently accompanying them, whereas the use of a similar classifier that is of technically equivalent meaning could sound unusual. Examples of such numeral classifiers, which might equally be thought of as noun collocations, include the following: a slice of bread, a slice of pizza, a bunch of bananas, a bunch of grapes, a pair of scissors, a couple of lovers, a pair of pants, a hit of tennis, a flurry of punches, a kick of soccer, a clump of grass, a blade of grass, a stalk of rhubarb, a stem of roses, a head of cattle, a head of cabbage, an ear of corn, a piece of equipment, a piece of furniture, a piece of property, a parcel of land, a plume of smoke, a glimmer of hope, a spark of enthusiasm, a taste of freedom, a breath of fresh air, a crack of thunder, a nugget of gold, a group of people, a gang of thugs, a spot of difficulty, a rush of adrenaline, a shot of pain, a word of advice, a bar of soap, a coat of paint, a bit of fun, a bit of slack, a bit of interest, a torrent of abuse and an outpouring of support.

Mensural numeral classifiers describe the type of packaging and thus the quantity of a particular item that is being referred to[1]. For instance, beer may exist as a pot of beer, a pint of beer, a schooner of beer, a jug of beer, a can of beer, a bottle of beer or a stubbie of beer, a 6-pack of beer, a slab of beer or a keg of beer. Beer, being a liquid, is considered a noun of low countability, and thus the use of the classifier, or measure word, in this case is quite routine. When it comes to things of high countability, high in countability because they naturally exist in distinct units, on the other hand, English language often omits the use of a classifier[1], with 'three dogs' being referred to simply as 'three dogs'. Among the classifiers in the paragraph above which count as exception to this rule, 'head' in 'a head of cattle' stands as a typical example of a sortal numeral classifier[1]. When sorting things that exist as plural entities, English language tends to be much more descriptive, and nowhere is this more conspicuous than when counting groups of animals, where the grammatical term 'collective noun' applies[2]. Take a look at the array of collective nouns in the table below that can be employed to term different species of animals when they are roaming as a corporate.

A herd of cattle.A chime of wren.A fall of woodcock.A flight of swallows.
A horde of insects.A constituency of caterpillars.An army of frogs.A soviet of ants.
A nest of snakes.A flick of rabbits.A down of hares.A flock of sheep.
A trip of dotterel.A swarm of bees.A litter of pups.A kindle of kittens.
A school of fish.A team of dolphins.A gang of elk.A sneak of weasels.
A muster of stalks.An ostentation of peacocks.A pod of whales.A squadron of pelicans.
A drift of pigs.A pride of lions.A congress of baboons.A colony of rats.
A troop of dogfish.A bale of turtles.A raft of otters.A family of sardines.
A pack of wolves.A sounder of pigs.A wobble of ostriches.A cupboard of pandas.
An ambush of tigers.A memory of elephants.A parade of echidnas.A string of racehorses.
A barrel of monkeys.A conspiracy of lemurs.A turmoil of porpoises.A celebration of polar bears.
A kennel of dogs.A rake of colts.An array of hedgehogs.A nursery of raccoons.
A cast of falcons.A clutter of spiders.A watch of nightingales.A parliament of owls.
A stud of mares.A company of wigeon.A walk of snails.A knob of wildfowl.
A bed of sloths.A desert of lapwings.A court of kangaroos.A mob of emus.
A bevy of larks.A leap of leopards.A wake of vultures.A siege of herrons.
A coterie of prairie dogs.A tiding of magpies.A suit of mallard.A richness of martens.
A labour of moles.A barren of mules.A shoal of squid.A yoke of oxen.
A pandemonium of parrots.A drey of squirrels.A crowd of starlings.A spring of teal.
A mutation of thrush.A knot of toads.A scold of jays.A covey of quail.
A of jugging partridges.A lek of grouse.A generation of vipers.A rookery of penguins.
A kit of pigeons.A farrow of piglets.A shadow of jaguars.A crash of rhinoceroses.
A bevy of roe deer.A hill of ruffs.A building of rooks.A cackle of hyenas.
A rookery of seals.A cornucopia of squid.A dopping of sheldrake.A cluster of cats.
A hover of trout.A rumba of rattlesnakes.A wisp of snipe.A unkindness of ravens.
A smack of jellyfish.A prickle of porcupines.A shrewdness of apes.A paddle of platypuses.
A descent of woodpeckers.A bloat of hippopotami.A quarrel of sparrows.A flutter of moths.
A cete of badgers.A lounge of lizards.A grist of flies.A cloud of bats.
A sleuth of bears.A bunch of worms.A exaltation of larks.A gaggle of geese.
An obstinacy of buffalo.A bind of eels.A business of ferrets.A caravan of camels.
A quiver of cobras.A quiver of cobras.A bask of crocodiles.A band of gorillas.
A fever of stingrays.A murder of crows.A stand of flamingos.A pace of donkeys.
A skulk of foxes.A stench of skunk.A scourge of mosquitoes.A tower of giraffes.
A shiver of shark.A wedge of swans in flight.A dazzle of zebras.A rafter of turkeys.
A battery of barracudas.A charm of hummingbirds.An implausibility of gnus.A run of salmon.
A wisdom of wombats.A cete of badgers.A coalition of cheetahs.A kaleidoscope of butterflies.
A tribe of goats.A galaxy of starfish.A cast of crabs.An infestation of mites.

In Chinese language, the grammatical term 量詞 'measure word' encompasses collective nouns, mensural and sortal numeral classifiers, as well as standardised units of measurement. Measure words as sortal numeral classifiers for singular objects exist in all cases and are used as a rule in Chinese, and they are moreover able to appear while enumerating verbal actions. While this latter use could be no different to calling 'times' a classifier in the English phrase 'hit him three times', and in English one could alternatively say 'give him three fists', the literal translation of the equivalent Chinese phrase is 打他三拳 'hit him three fists'. Listed below are 211 Chinese measure words, each followed by examples of use.

The quintessential, most universal Chinese classifier, and the only real go to when the classifier for a word is completely unsuspected, with a broad range of uses for people, items, actions, time frames, states and concepts.一個棋子,一個鏝頭,一個車站,一個年,一個名子,一個星期,一個水果,一個上午,一個下午,一個小時,一個開始,一個意思,一個可能,一個生日,一個晚上,一個希望,一個姐姐,一個笑,一個妻子,一個妹妹,一個姓,一個丈夫,一個根據,一個國家,一個環境,一個班,一個關係,一個世界,一個年級,一個變化,一個聲音,一個節日,一個作業,一個經過,一個練習,一個角,一個機會,一個回答,一個季節,一個習慣,一個愛好,一個叔叔,一個鄰居,一個司機,一個句子,一個爺爺  
Used as a alternative measure word for people, particularly those with a specific designation or function within society.一位媽媽,一位朋友,一位老師,一位先生,一位小姐,一位哥哥,一位服務員,一位局長,一位同事,一位奶奶,一位顧客,一位作家,一位領導,一位女士,一位留學生,一位系主任,一位應聘者,一位老大娘
Used for counting people ordered according to some ranking, or for counting for counting people deserving of recognition by name.一名醫生,一名經理,一名校長,一名翻譯,一名演員,一名師傅,一名工程師,一名代表,一名教練,一名總統,一名裁判,一名小學生,一名部長,一名黨員,一名藝術家,一名華僑,一名候選人,一名大使,一名焊工,一名參賽者,一名志願兵,一名繼女
Used for counting numbers of people, animals, objects or mouthfuls.一口痰,一口豬,一口鍋,一口劍,一口井,一口缸
Used for counting people or things as they exist according to an order that is of relatively arbitrary significance.第五十號入場券,二十五號病人
Classifier for groups of people.一伙人
Classifier for groups of people or loads of scheduled transport.一班班機,一班公共汽車,這班人群
Used for counting lines or processions of people.一路縱隊
Classifier for tables of people or items.一桌酒席,一桌客人
Used for counting large approximations of people or things, or for counting trade transactions.一票買賣
Used for counting trades or objects.一宗貨物,一宗款項,一宗案件,一宗心事
Standard unit for counting money.十元錢幣
Smaller monetary unit.十角等於一元
Smaller monetary unit used in Macao and Guangdong.一毛錢幣就是一角
Classifier for sums of money, debts, pieces of calligraphy and drawings.一筆錢,一筆收入,一筆生意,一筆財產,一筆利息,一筆交易,一筆遺產,一筆經費,一筆款,一筆貸款,一筆費用,一筆債,一筆賬,一筆獎學金,一筆稿費,一筆青史,一筆嫁資,一筆開支
Classifier for pieces of block or flat shaped objects, and alternative monetary unit.一塊豆腐,一塊餅乾,一塊窗幕,一塊蛋糕,一塊黑板,一塊巧克力,一塊橡皮,一塊石頭,一塊磚,一塊板,一塊大陸,一塊煤,一塊墨,一塊冰,一塊瓦片,一塊香皂,一塊坐墊,一塊乾冰,一塊坯料,一塊遮羞布,一塊]糯米糕,一塊灰岩,一塊烏青,一塊面料
Used for counting stacks of paper or other flat objects, or verses of music.陽關三疊
Used to count items that are stacked.一垛轉
For counting stacks, layers, or parts of something derived from one's mental faculty.一層油漆,一層薄膜,一層意涵,一層皮膚
For counting folds, or acts in traditional form of Chinese vaudeville.把紙折成三折,元雜劇的第四本第三折
Classifier for stacks of paper or other flat objects.一沓紙,一沓鈔票
Classifier for flat objects, for objects with flat surfaces, and for objects capable of expanding in width.一張弓,一張嘴,一張床,一張桌子,一張表格,一張票,一張臉,一張收據,一張皮革,一張便條,一張圖片,一張皮,一張煎餅,一張星座,一張嘴巴,一張床墊,一張報明表,一張書籤,一張機床,一張相片,一張紙幣,一張唱片,一張考試卷,一張喜報,一張選票,一張便簽,一張長凳,一張餐巾,一張出生證明書,一張假條,一張快嘴,一張比薩餅,一張聖像,一張棧單,一張蝶片,一張賀年片,一張鉛箔,一張菜板
Used for counting flat objects, flat geographical surfaces including water surfaces, environments, atmospheres, sounds, languages and intentions.一片地,一片森林,一片葉子,一片沙灘,一片愛心,一片花瓣,一片嘴唇,一片田野,一片海,一片田,一片草原,一片真心,一片高原,一片汪洋,一片歡騰,一片罵聲,一片藥片
Classifier for objects with flat parts, for interpersonal meetings, and for pages.一面琵琶,一面鼓,一面鏡子,一面掩護,一面旗,一面鑼,一面篩子
Used for counting flat objects or boards.一扇窗戶,一扇落地窗,一扇門
Used for counting pieces of paper, pages or chapters.一篇論文,一篇評論,一篇作文,一篇課文,一篇社論,一篇鬼話,一篇札記,一篇作品,一篇報道,一篇傳記
Used for counting pages.一頁文章,每天看幾頁
Classifier for pages of books or documents, or for small boats.一葉扁舟,三葉證件
Used for counting boats.一艘船,一艘輪船,一艘航空母艦,一艘軍艦,一艘油輪
Used for counting vehicles.一輛車,一輛自行車,一輛卡車,一輛公交車,一輛電車,一輛出租汽車,一輛棧車,一輛旄車
Formerly used for counting vehicles.一乘兵車
Classifier for sets or strings of things, small groups of people, or animal-powered vehicles.趕一掛大車,一掛鞭炮,一掛朝珠
Used to count books, films and vehicles.一部影片,一部著作,一部憲法,一部紀錄片,一部電視劇,一部設相機,一部搞笑片,一部公用電話,一部血淚史,一部摩托車,一部轎車
Used for counting books.一冊集郵部,一冊書,一冊圖書
Used for counting enveloped items or books with covers.一封信,一封邀請函,一封電報
Used for counting poems and songs.一首詩,一首花兒,一首歌,一首民歌
Used for counting songs.一曲音樂,一曲高歌
Classifier for songs and complete actions.樂奏一闕
Classifier for sounds.一聲雷,一聲乾笑,一聲狗吠
Classifier for emissions of sound.敲鼓五响,一响响爆炸聲,一响接一响雷鳴
Classifier for pieces of speech.一句話,一句成語,一句問候
Used for counting paragraphs.一則日記,一則寓言,一則笑話
Used for counting rolls and scrolls.一卷鋪蓋,一卷綠影帶,一卷布,一卷衛生紙
Used for counting books, booklets, theatrical acts, and rolls of film.一本賬,一本筆記奔,一本護照,一本教材,一本支票,一本筆記,一本說明書,一本辭典,一本書本,一本教科書,一本書目,一本 名冊,一本影集,一本留言簿,一本經文,一本集郵部
Classifier for trays of items, rolls, rolls of film, games of abstract strategy games, or games of certain ball sports.一盤棋,一盤和棋,一盤碟子,一盤錄像带,一盤磨子,一盤碾子,打兩盤乒乓球
Used for counting members of a relay team, or hits in baseball.接力賽跑中公四棒接力,棒球員連打六棒
Used for counting teams, songs, watts, thread gauge, and rod-shaped objects.一支喇叭,一支軍隊,一支曲子,一支樂隊,一支箭,一支艦隊,一支鋼筆,一支吸管,一支長槍,一支救生隊
Used for counting rod-shaped objects.一枝筆,一枝步槍,一枝圓珠筆
Classifier for long thin objects, including objects in which part of the apparatus is suspended by a beam.一桿鉛筆,一桿槍,一桿秤
Used for counting long objects, doors, walls, questions, commands, and things connected in sequence.一道光,一道閃電,一道題,一道光,一道閃電,一道命令,一道手續,一道彩虹,一道皺紋,一道河,一道江,一道縫,一道漆,一道溝,一道彎,一道關卡,一道裂縫,一道光線,一道防線,一道圍牆,一道手腳,一道斷層,一道鐵絲網,一道傷疤,一道封鎖線,一道偏題,一到聖旨
Classifier for long thin objects.一根甘蔗,一根香,一根香腸,一根管子,一根眉毛,一根弦,一根繩,一根柱,一根血管,一根雞腿,一根白髮,一根電線,一根標竿,一根棒棒糖,一根油條,一根鞭子,一根鐵軌,一根冰棍,一根褲帶,一根電線桿,一根煙頭,一根冰棒,一根釣竿,一根軋輥,一根車軸,一根扁擔,一根翎毛,一根竿子
Used for counting stem-like objects.一筒筷子
Used for counting cylindrical objects and tubes.一管牙膏,一管毛筆,一管笛子
Used for counting long thin objects including some animals, trail-shaped groups of objects, conceptual items, and experienced phenomena.一條圍巾,一條裙子,一條褲子,一條黃瓜,一條毯子,一條蛇,一條舌頭,一條路,一條新聞,一條帶,一條辦法,一條街道,一條腿,一條消息,一條生命,一條毛巾,一條龍,一條項鏈,一條根,一條胡同,一條繩子,一條謎語,一條山脈,一條莖,一條絲,一條專線,一條路線,一條鯨魚,一條領帶,一條壩,一條河流,一條浴巾,一條泥鰍,一條好漢,一條渠,一條手鏈,一條漁船,一條肩帶,一條美人計,一條人命,一條苦肉計,一條牙線,一條連環計,一條蠐螬,一條棧閣,一條金鎦子,一條規定
Used to count lines of people or things.一列火車,一列車隊,一列土兵
Used to count lines of things.一行詩句(ㄏㄤˊ),三四行字(ㄏㄤˊ),一行白鶴上藍天(ㄏㄤˊ),喝酒三行(ㄒㄧㄥˊ)
Used to count lines or rows of people or things.一排座椅,一排櫻花樹
Used for counting objects of length, gases, adversaries, and stock market shares.一股影響,一股線,一股道,一股霸氣,一股熱氣,一股香味,一股敵軍,一股執念,一股泉水,一股寒潮,一股巨流,一股狠勁
Used for counting string-like objects.一縷輕煙,一縷麻,一縷青絲
Used for counting very small thin objects, or extremely small standardised amounts.一絲微笑,一絲風,一絲為十分之一毫
Used for counting granule-shaped objects.一粒米,一粒鹽,一粒玉米,一粒花生,一粒小麥,一粒沙,一粒龍眼,一粒安眠藥
Used for counting pills.一服五丸
Used for counting small spherical objects.一顆星,一顆蘋果,一顆土豆,一顆心臟,一顆腦袋,一顆牙齒,一顆鑽石,一顆衛星,一顆珍珠,一顆草莓,一顆地雷,一顆豆子,一顆楊梅,一顆棋子,一顆蛀牙,一顆高麗菜
Used for counting ball shaped objects.一團棉絮,一團毛線
Used for counting wheel-shaped objects, or occurrences that manifest on a cyclical basis.一輪明月,一輪紅日,一輪會談,他也屬豬而是比我大一輪
Used for counting arranged activities and positions of duty.一屆電影節,一屆全會,一屆奧斯卡像獎,一屆任期,一屆總統,一屆會議
Used for counting sports or leisure activities, and scenes within a play.一場霜,一場病,一場運動,一場雪,一場遊戲,一場夢,一場表演,一場戀愛,一場婚禮,一場雜技,一場球賽,一場秀,一場音樂會,一場車禍,一場大風,一場風波,一場騙局,一場打架,一場官司,一場大雨,一場舞會,一場大火,一場單打,一場拍賣會,一場虛驚,一場游泳池
Used for counting settings or theatre acts.一幕電影,一幕鬧劇,生活的一幕
Used for counting classes, settings, sets of furniture and wallpapers.一堂課,一堂課程,一堂壁畫,一堂家具
Used for counting plays and fantasies.一齣悲劇,一齣京戲,一齣喜劇,一齣歌劇,一齣京劇
Used for counting trips, choreographed movements, and lengthening objects.一趟旅行,來回一趟,練趟拳,種一趟樹
Used for counting cases or incidents.一樁婚姻,一樁事情,一樁大事,一樁買賣,一樁事兒,一樁婚事
Used for counting terms in office or relationship partners.一任校長,一任會長,三任女朋友,兩任丈夫
Used for counting tasks, skills, ones relatives and things to do with them, and artillery.一門功課,一門學問,一門漢語,一門知識,一門專業,一門語言,一門常識,一門教學,一門口語,一門外語,一門親事,一門親戚
Used to count skills and abilities.寫一手好字
Used to count kicks and steps.踹一腳,踢一腳,踩 一腳
Used to count completions of actions.再複習一遍,花開一遍,一遍聽歌曲
Used to count washes.洗滌衣服三水
Used to count steeps of tea, or passages of urine or faeces.一泡尿,沖浸茶葉四泡(ㄆㄠˋ),一泡鴨子屎
Used to count cuts, or stacks of paper.切六刀割,一百紙張稱為一刀
Used to count brandishes of a sword.揮劍五劍
Used to count strikes with the fist.打一拳
Used to count shots of a gun.連開三槍
Used for counting bullets.一發子彈,幾發炮彈
Used for counting small flat objects, rockets or projectile weapons.一枚鞭炮,一枚火箭,一枚導彈,一枚獎章,一枚金牌,一枚硬幣,一枚別針,一枚紀念章,一枚火箭,一枚炸彈
Used for counting machine guns.依挺機關槍
Used to count cannons and memorials including statues and paintings.一尊佛像,一尊大砲,一尊雕像,一尊戲偶
Used for counting calligraphy paintings.六畫部首,字公八畫
Used for counting calligraphy paintings and photographs.一幀水墨畫,一幀快照
Used for counting paintings and sheets.一幅照片,一幅畫,一幅對聯,一幅表語
Used to count layers and repetitions.一重領導,一重浪,一重山
Used to count laps.跑一圈
Classifier for loops.一轉功勳,纏一轉
Used to count multiples.三的四倍是十二,他收入比我的大兩倍
Used to count instances, types or multiples.一番周折,一番滋味,一番說教,一番風雨,一番模樣
Used to count writings, transmissions, or instances.一通文書,一通報告,一通感想,一通電話,一通電報,擂鼓三通,一通罵
Used to count progresses, instances, events, and chapters.去過一回山峰,一回事,看了她機回,第十六回章目
Used to count instances or successions.一次考試,一次檢查,一次結婚,三次復習,一次見面,一次成功,一次經歷,一次失敗,一次約會,兩次實驗,一次展覽,一次結合,一次勞動,一次遊覽,一次測驗,一次訪問,兩次試驗,一次嘗試,一次解放,一次革命,一次動員,一次選舉,一次座談,一次會見,一次騎行,一次會談,一次會話,一次談話,一次集會,第二次世界大戰
Used to count seats of a delegation, tables at a banquet, or spoken instances.十席宴會,一席勸告,一席酒菜,致政黨共取得六席
Used to count actions or to indicate a short moment in time.打五下手心,等我一下
Used to indicate a short moment in time.稍等一會
Used for counting occurrences and phenomena that last for a short period of time.一陣咳嗽,一陣轟炸,一陣掌聲,一陣騷動,一陣抽痛,一陣緊張
Used to count a short period of time.十五分鐘為一刻
A standard period of time with which to regulate one's life.下週禮拜五,月亮繞地球一週
A standard period of time used for measuring age.成人二十一歲,我大他四歲
A very short standardised moment of time.一秒為六十分之一分鐘,一秒為六十分之一角度,一秒為六十分之一經緯度 
Used to count periods of time.一期報紙,一期雜誌,一期畫報
小時A stardardised period of time within the day.兩個小時為一個地支之時
Used to indicate a small amount, to count notions, or to indicate the number of hours that have ellapsed since midnight or midday.三點要求,一點小事,四點建議,兩點意見,給我一點,十一點半
A period of time, distinguished by visability afforded by the sun.十日量,家無三日糧
A period of time, distinguished by the cyclic movement of the sun relative to one's postion.四天三夜,每天要做的事
A period of time, distinguished by the cyclic change in shape of the luminous part of the moon.一月為月相一週期,一月為十二分之一年
A period of time distinguished by the cycle of the seasons.一年為四季
分種A short standardised period of time.一分鐘為六十分之一小時
Used to count set periods of time, known lengths, segments, or the parts of something that is divided into relatively consistent parts.一段時間,一段歷史,一段時刻,一段詩歌,一段粉筆
Used to count sections or segments.一節甘蔗,一節車廂,一節課
A traditional, short, standardised or anatomically proportional length.一寸為十分之一尺
A stardardised length, often of traditional proportions.一公尺為一米,一臺尺約三十公分,一市尺為三分之一米
A modern standardised length.一米為千分之一公里
A standardised distance.一市里為五百公尺,一公里為一千公尺
公分A small modern standardised length.一公分為百分之一米
A miniscule, standardised length.一忽為十分之一絲
A tiny standardised unit of length or weight.一市毫長度或制量等於十分之一市釐
A very small standardised unit of length, a small standardised area, a very small standardised weight, or a small portion of one's annual income.一公制釐為千分之一公尺,一釐為百分之一畝,一釐為一兩的千分之一,年利率一釐為本金的百分之一
A standardised unit of weight.一公斤為一千公克,一臺制斤為六百公克,一陸制斤為五百公克
A large standardised unit of weight, adopted from foreign systems of measurement.一公制噸為一千公斤,一英制噸為1016.05公斤,一美制噸為907.18公斤
A small standardised unit of weight.一克為千分之一公斤
A traditional unit of weight.一兩為十六分之一斤
A small traditional unit of weight.一錢為一兩的十 分之一
Used to count portions.一份申請,一份愛情,一份文件,一份保險,一份禮,一份問卷,一份才華,一份房契,一份地契,一份調查表,一份答卷,一份食品,一份報,一份試卷,一份資料,一份表格,一份菜單
A proportional unit, used throughout measurements of all sorts.一分為十部之一,一分為六十部之一角度,一分為百部之一,一分為一畝的十部之一,一分為一元或本金的百部之一,一分為一寸的十部之一
A unit of area.一畝為六十平方丈,一畝約666.7平方公尺,一畝為一公畝十五分之一
A small standardised unit of area.一坪算3.30579平方公尺
A large stardardised unit of area.公尺一頃等於一百畝
A standardised volume of fluid.一斗等於十升
A standardised volume of fluid of portable proportions.一升容量等於十合
A classifier for spoonfuls, or a small standardised volume of liquid.一勺為百分之一公升,一勺糖
Classifier for pinches, a very small standardised volume of liquid, or tufts of hair.一撮草,一撮鹽巴,一撮毛,一撮頭髮
A small standardised volume of fluid.五合大戰,一合 (ㄍㄜˇ) 等於一百毫升
Used to count liquids.一汪眼淚,一汪濁水
Used to count pots of liquid.一壺茶,一壺紅茶,一壺花茶
Used to count drops of liquid.一滴汗,一滴血
Used to count oozings of liquid.一灘漏油,一灘奶水
Used to count bodies of water.一泓湖,一泓清水
Used for counting flowers and clouds.一朵雲,一朵木耳,一朵浪花,一朵霞
Used for counting plants.一棵松,一棵菠菜,一棵核桃,一棵白菜,一棵白楊,一棵卷新菜,一棵和苗,一棵水仙花,耶棵菸捲兒,一棵竹
Used for counting flowers, grasses and trees.一株麥子,一株桃樹,一株水稻
Used for counting bushes or bundles.一墩麻條,一墩稻秧
Used for counting bushes.一叢牡丹
Used for counting flowers, fruits, bulbs and fragments.一瓣橘子,一瓣大蒜,幾瓣兒破碎小塊
Used for counting foods and Chinese herbal medicines.一味藥,七味菜
Used for counting Chinese herbal medicine doses.一服中藥
Used for counting herbal prescriptions.一劑藥,注射兩劑疫苗,一劑敷布
Used for counting meals.一餐早飯,一餐午飯,一餐晚飯
Used for counting meals or rebukes.一頓念,一頓毒打,一頓臭罵,一頓吵架,一頓早餐,一頓中餐,一頓西餐
Used for counting cans.一聽奶粉,一聽可口可樂,一聽飲料
Used for counting bowls, lanterns and oil lamps.一碗粥,一碗飯,一碗燈籠,一碗油燈
Used for counting lamps or liquids.一盞燈,一盞壁燈,一盞電燈
Used for counting items with racks or a skeletal framework.一架飛機,一架梯子,一架直升機,一架縫紉機,一架火器,一架高射機槍
Used for counting bedding items.一床被子,一床被單,一床褥子
Used for counting sets of clothes or statues.一身服裝,一身婚紗,一身人偶
Used for counting performances and electrical equipment.一台收音機,一台電腦,一台電視,一台空調,一台冰箱,一台儀器,一台引擎,一台器,一台機,一台叉車,一台威波爐,一台顯微鏡,一台古硯
Used for counting moon-shaped pieces.一牙月餅,一牙西瓜,一牙彎月
Used for counting curved objects.一彎新月
Used for counting slanted object.一撇鬍子
Used for counting objects with an apex.一頂帽子,一頂帳篷,一頂蚊帳,一頂浴冒,一頂安全帽
Used to count broad bowl-shaped objects.一盆花
Used for counting square and rectangular objects.一方寶劍,一方印章,一方手帕,一方圖章,一方石碑,一方硯台
Used for counting items contained within boxes.一盒黃油,一盒磁帶,一盒火柴
Used for counting objects, corpses, and coffins.一具身體,一具屍體,一具棺材
Used for counting objects of any shape.一件行李,一件樂器,一件東西,一件襯衫,一件日用品,一件文物,一件毛衣,一件內衣,一件外套,一件藝術品,一件風衣,一件皮具,一件寶物,一件長袍,一件罩衣,衣件夾襖,一件大氅,一件差使,一件劉銀器
Used for counting objects with a handle, objects in bunches, objects that can be picked up, hand actions, analgous or imaginary items, and firearms一把鎖,一把刀,一把尺,一把扇子,一把梳子,一把剪子,一把掃帚,一把傘,一把鋸,一把椅子,一把刷子,一把鑰匙,一把力氣,一把勺子,一把年紀,一把剪刀,一把嗓子,一把叉子,一把粉絲,一把勁,一把吉他,一把提琴,一把茶壺,一把火炬,一把手槍,一把牙刷,一把二胡,一把算盤,一把螺絲刀,一把手杖,一把撣子,一把湯匙,一把鏟子,一把斧子,一把小蔥,一把鐵鍁,一把錐子,一把墩布,一把改錐,一把鉛筆刀,一把扳子,一把管龠,一把捶子,再加把勁
Used for counting differentiated items.一項決定,一項成績,一項任務,一項活動,一項廣告,一項計畫,一項內容,一項研究,一項調查,一項優點,一項業務,一項義務,一項本領,一項聲明,一項協議,一項條款,一項心得,一項服務,一項工程,一項獎項,一項議題
Used for counting types of things.一樣小菜,一樣點心
Used for counting types of people or things.一種植物,一種保護,一種氣候,一種感情,一種背景,一重金屬,一種享受,一種美術,一種文學,一種現象,一種蔬菜,一種情緒,一種營養,一種道德,一種糧食,一種抽象,一種武術,一重武器,一種纖維,一種款式,一種企圖,一種莊稼,一種色,一種食品,一種塑料,一種彩色,一種副食
Used for counting things with equal or similar characteristics.有兩類情況,同一類問題
Used for counting pairs of things.一對枕頭,一對耳朵,一對襪子,一對翅膀,一對耳環,一對夫婦,一對雙胞胎,一對花瓶,一對耳墜子
Used for counting things that naturally form pairs.一雙眼睛,一雙腳,一雙手套,一雙手,一雙鞋,一雙拖鞋,一雙連褲襪,一雙鞋帶,一雙雨靴
Used for counting items that naturally form pairs, facial expressions, or abstract quantities.一副眼鏡,一副笑臉,一副象棋,一副麻將,一副撲克牌,一副笑容,一副刀叉,一副滑雪板,一副擔子,一副鏡架,一副耳套,一副德性,一副戴帽眼鏡
A universal classifier, used for counting a plural and normally relatively small, yet unspecified quantity of things.買些鮮魚
A classifier for sets of things.一套方案,一套公寓,一套制服,一套西裝,一套桌子,一套衣服,一套椅子,一套家具,一套軟體
Used for counting groups of things.一組電池,一組詞,一組生詞
Used to count groups which people or things have been divided into.一撥人馬,兩撥團員
Used for counting collections of people or items.一批材料,一批遊客
Used for counting groups of people or animals.一群動物,一群鳥,一群蜜蜂,一群學生,一群猴子
Used for counting livestock, head-shaped objects, or matters.一頭象,一頭獅子,一頭恐龍,一頭牛,一頭羊,一頭野豬,一頭豹子,一頭毛驢,一頭好親事
Used for counting birds, animals, physiological organs of people or animals, boats, or other gadgets.一隻蜜蜂,一隻老虎,一隻老鼠,一隻兔子,一隻鳥,一隻蒼蠅,一隻蜻蜓,一隻蝦,一隻鴨子,一隻螃蟹,一隻雞,一隻貓,一隻蚊子,一隻鼻子
Used for counting newborn animals, or animals.一窩小豬,一窩小雞,一窩馬蜂
Used for counting fish.一尾魚,一尾黃魚
Used for counting camels.一峰駱駝
Used for counting equine or cloths.一匹馬,一匹騾子,一匹狼,一匹斑馬,一匹綢子
Used for counting horses mounted by people.一騎戰士,一騎駿馬
Used for counting households.一戶家庭,一戶人家,六百戶住家
Used for counting households, shops and businesses.一家飯店,一家店,一家書店,一家公司,一家賓館,一家銀行,一家圖書館,一家超級市場,一家郵局,一家小吃,一家電台,一家酒吧,一家報社,一家協會,一家館,一家廣播電台,一家咖啡屋,一家麵包房,一家醫務所,一家理髮廳,一家屋企,一家公堂
Used for counting buildings or schools.一所學校,一所機構,伊索大學,一所學院,一所工業學校,一所醫院,一所房屋
Used for counting houses, workplaces and buildings.一棟辦公樓,一棟樓,一棟廠房,一棟房子,一棟樓房
Used for counting houses and workplaces.一幢別墅,一幢大樓,一幢宿舍樓,一幢住宅樓
Used for counting large, fixed objects.一座碼頭,一座禮堂,一座鐘
Used for counting caves and holes.一孔隧道,一孔窯洞,一孔洞穴
Used for counting residences, layers and rooms.三進的屋子每進兩間
Used for counting buildings or rooms.一間教室,一間房間,一間辦公室,一間客廳,一間廚房,一間宿舍,一間臥室,一間屋子,一間堂,一間門面,一間髮廊
For counting bedrooms.一居睡房
Used to count walls.一堵牆,一睹防火牆,一睹土牆
Used to count objects that are held up.一抬嫁妝,依抬橋
Used to count groups of people, or piles of items.一堆垃圾,一堆號碼,一堆昆蟲
Used to count clusters of items.一簇金銀花
Used for counting bundles of items.一束沖天,一束鮮花
Used for counting bags of items.一包紙巾,一包茶葉,一包米,一包糖果
Used for counting bales or spools.一扎線,一扎稻草
Used to count group of linked things, or chains.一串念珠,一串葡萄,一串項鍊
Used to count tufts of materials.一綹鬍鬚,一綹棉線

Linguists make the distinction between noun classifier sets, such as those described above, where a choice between multiple classifiers can be used with a word, and noun class systems[3], which feature in languages such as Italian, where the categorisation of words into the conceptual divisions of masculine and feminine is done exclusively and systematically. Of course, in the case of the noun class system of Romance languages, many everyday objects may seem to a new learner of the language as being neither more inherently masculine nor feminine in nature, and it is thus simply a process of learning by memory the gender of each noun individually. The gender of a noun in these language families is indicated by both an article that proceeds the noun, and a suffix that constitutes the end of the noun word, both of which vary in form in unison, when changing from single to plural. All natural Italian nouns, that being those not borrowed from other languages, end in either an '-o' an '-a' or an '-e' in the singular, and become respectively '-i', '-e' and '-i' in the plural form. One may even reasonably deduce the gender of the of most Italian words just by seeing them written, and even for those nouns ending in '-e', which may be of either gender, the articles 'il' or 'lo' for masculine nouns or 'la' for feminine nouns, will typically give away the gender. So few are the singular nouns ending in '-o' that are feminine, and the nouns ending in '-a' that are masculine, that they can be be listed below, for reference. One should also heed Italian nouns that deviate from the norm and are considered irregular because of the changes they make, including possibly change in gender, between singular and plural forms.

Nomi maschili che finiscono in 'a' includono i seguenti: l'aformisma, l'adilà, l'amalgama, Andrea, l'apripista, l'arciduca, l'aroma, l'asceta, l'assioma, l'automa, il babà, il baccala, il bagnasciuga, il bagnomaria, il bamba, il barba, Barnaba, il battistrada, il barbera, il boa, il boia, il caccia, il camerata, il Canada, il capolinea, il cappa, il carcinoma, il carisma, il carovita, il cataclisma, il cavalcavia, il cinema, il clima, il cobra, il colera, il coma, il comma, il commenda, il crocevia, il delta, il diadema, il diaframma, il dilemma, il diploma, il dogma, il doposcuola, il dormiveglia, il dramma, il duca, l'elettrocardiogramma, l'ematoma, l'emblema, l'encefalogramma, Enea, l'enfisema, l'enigma, il entroterra, l'enzima, il faccia a faccia, il fantasma, il fibroma, il fonema, il geometra, il gerarca, il germicida, il gesuita, il glaucoma, il glioma, il gorgonzola, il gorilla, il grana, il Grappa, il guardaroba, il Guatemala, l'idioma, Isaia, il koala, il lama, il lemma, il madera, il mana, il maragia, il marasma, il marsala, il messia, il miasma, il monarca, il morfema, il Nicaragua, il Panama, il panama, il panorama, il papà, il papa, il parabrezza, il paracqua, il paradigma, il parapiglia, il parapioggia, il parassita, il pascia, il passamontagna, il patema, il patriarca, il peana, il pentagramma, il pianeta, il pigia pigia, il pigiama, il pilota, il pirata, il plasma, il platisma, il podesta, il poema, il poeta, il politeama, il portacipria, il portafortuna, il prisima, il problema, il proclama, il profeta, il programma, il promemoria, il retrobottega, il retroterra, il reuma, lo schema, lo scioglilingua, lo scisma, il sistema, il sofa, il sofisma, il soma, il sosia, lo spermicida, lo stemma, lo stigma, lo stratagemma, il telegramma, il tema, il teorema, il trauma, il trombetta, il vaglia, il valpolicella, il Venezuela, il voltafaccia e il voltagabbana.

Nomi femminili che finiscono in 'o' includono i seguenti: l'auto, Calipso, la dinamo, l'eco, Ero, la foto, la libido, la mano, la moto, la pallavolo, la pallacanestro, la radio, Saffo e la virago. Nomi femminili che finiscono in 'i' sono questi: la crisi, l'ipotesi, la metropoli, la sintesi, la diafisi e la tesi.

Nomi italiani con plurale irregolare includono queste parole: l'ala, che nel plurale diventa le ali­; l'alpaca, che rimane gli alpaca; l'aponeurosi, che rimane le aponeurosi; l'arma, che diventa le armi; il braccio, che diventa femminile 'le braccia' nel plurale; il budelllo, che diventa le budella quando si parla degli intestini; il bue, che diventa i buoi; il calcagno, che diventa le calcagna in qualche frase come 'alle calcagna'; il centinaio, che diventa le centinaia; il ciglio, che diventa le ciglia nel senso anatomico; il corno, che diventa le corna quando si parla della protuberanza ossea degli animali; la diàfisi, che rimane le diàfisi; il dio, che diventa gli dei; il dito, che diventa le dita quando sono insieme; l'eco, che diventa gli echi; il filo, che diventa le fila nei sensi dell'ordita or di un accordo segreto; la foto, che rimane le foto; il gesto, che diventa le gesta nel senso dell'impresa; il grido, che diventa le grida quando le producono i uomani; il labbro, che diventa le labbra; il ginocchio, che diventa le ginocchia; lo gnu, che rimane gli gnu; la gru, che rimane le gru; l'iguana, che rimane le iguana; il koala, che rimane i koala; il lama, che rimane i lama; il lenzuolo, che diventa le lenzuola se siano un paio insieme che si mette nel letto; la mano, che diventa le mani; il membro, che diventa le membra nel senso delle membra del corpo umano; il migliaio, che diventa le migliaia; il miglio, che diventa le miglia; mille, che diventa duemila; il mio, che diventa i miei; l'opossum, che rimane gli opossum; l'orecchio, che diventa le orecchie; l'osso, che diventa le ossa; il paio, che diventa le paia; il riso, nel senso di ridere, che diventa le risa; lo scacciopensieri, che rimane gli scacciapensieri; la sìnfisi, che rimane le sìnfisi; il suo, che diventa i suoi; lo strido, che può diventare gli stridi o le strida senza differenza di significato; il tempio, che diventa i templi; il tuo, che diventa i tuoi; l'uomo, che diventa gli uomini; l'uovo, che diventa le uova; e l'urlo, che diventa le urla quando le suonano gli uomani.

Learning the classifiers and class systems of a language not only allows the language learner to speak correctly, but also to speak with an increased descriptive capacity.



1. Gil, D. (2013) Numeral Classifiers, Accessed 7 June 2021, <>

2. Mills, B. (2008) Collective Nouns: Are they singular or plural?, Accessed 8 June 2021, <>

3. Loos, E., Anderson, S., Day, D., Jordan, P., Wingate, J. (2003) Noun Class, accessed 7 June 2021, <>

Updated on the 10th January, 2023.

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