Chinese Measure Words (Part 7): Time, Units of Measure


mesure words time

Some of the words designating units of time are “their own” measure words.  The rest are used in combination with the generic 个 (ge).

miǎo second 一秒钟 (yī miǎo zhōng) “one second”
fēn minute 一分钟 (yī fēnzhōng) “one minute”
tiān day 一天 (yī tiān) “one day”
day 一日 (yī rì) “one day” (used in literature and journalism)


zhōu week 一周 (yī zhōu) “one week” (used in literature and journalism)
nián year 一年 (yī nián) “one year”
dài era, generation 上一代 (shàng yīdài) “the previous generation”

下一代 (xià yīdài) “the next generation”


ge unit 一个小时 (yīgè xiǎoshí) “one hour”

一个钟头 (yīgè zhōngtóu) “one hour”

一个星期 (yīgè xīngqí) “one week”

一个礼拜 (yīgè lǐbài) “one week”

一个月 (yīgè yuè) “one month”

一个年代 (yīgè niándài) “one decade”

一个世纪 (yī gè shìjì) “one century”

Units of Measure

measure words units

Units of measure generally follow the grammatical structure of other measure words.

jīn unit of weight (~0.5 kg)
dūn unit of weight (ton)
bàng unit of weight (pound)
píng unit of area (~0.6 m2)


kuài monetary unit (1 yuan)
máo monetary unit (1/10 yuan)


an unspecified amount of money
cùn one inch (~1/30 m)
chǐ one foot (~1/3 m)
unit of distance (~0.5 km)
shēng     unit of volume (1 liter)
dòu     unit of volume (10 liter)
degree, level


Joe Varadi

Joe Varadi lived and studied in Shanghai and Taiwan, in a simpler time before blogs and smartphones got big. He is the creator of Trasee! for Chinese Trasee, a mobile app for Chinese reading and handwriting that incorporates many of the techniques he developed while learning Mandarin.