Differences Between 二èr and 两liǎnɡ

In Chinese, there are two words that have the meaning of “two”: “二èr” and “两liǎnɡ”. Although they have the same meaning, they are used in different situations.

二èr and 两liǎnɡ

二èr and 两liǎnɡ

When Before a Measure Word

At first, let’s look at the following three sentences.

Wǒ yǒu liǎnɡ ɡè jiějie.

我有两个姐姐。(✔)

I have two sisters.



Tā mǎile liǎn ɡtái kōnɡtiáo.

她买了两台空调。(✔)

She bought two air-conditioners.



Wǒ yǒu èr zhī ɡǒu.

我有二只狗。(✘)

I have two dogs.


What common pattern can you find in the sentences above? That’s right! They all contain a measure word: “个ɡè”, “台tái” and “只zhī”. In Chinese grammar, we put numbers before measure words, thus the structure “Number + Measure word + Noun”.

“二” and “两” both mean “2”. However, we only put “两” before a measure word , instead of “二”. E.g.

liǎnɡ ɡè rén

两个人

two people



liǎnɡ běn shū

两本书

two books



liǎnɡ nián

两年

two years



There is only one exception that we put “二” before measure words, rather than “两”. In Chinese, “两” is also a measure word itself for weight. (1两= 50 grams). So when people want to say “100 grams”, we say “二两”, not “两两”. E.g.


Wǒ yào mǎi èrliǎnɡ cháyè.

我要买二两茶叶。

I want to buy 100 grams’ tea.



What if the number is a multi-digit and the unit's place is “2”, such as “52”? In this case, “2” is pronounced “二”, not “两”. E.g.

wǔshíèr ɡè hái zi

五十二个孩子

52 kids



sānbǎiliùshíèr tiān

三百六十二天

362 days



“2” in Numbers

1) In large numbers, we put “二” in the 10-digit and 100-digit places. However, we put “两” in the 1,000-digit, 10,000-digit and 100,000,000-digit places. E.g.

èr shí liù

二十六

26



èr bǎi èr shí

二百二十

220



liǎnɡ qiān

两千

2,000



liǎnɡ wàn

两万

20,000



liǎnɡ yì

两亿

200,000,000



2) When counting numbers or in math, we are supposed to say “二èr”, E.g. 一yī, 二èr、三sān、四sì、五wǔ…


Yī jiā yī děnɡ yú èr.

一加一等于二。

1+1=2



3) When “two” appears in ordinal numbers, decimals and fractions, we say “二èr”. E.g.

dì èr

第二

second



èr yuè

二月

February (the second month in a year)



èr diǎn yī

二点一

2.1



èr fēn zhī yī

二分之一

1/2



4) If you want to express “two or three”, we say “两liǎnɡ”. E.g.


Wǒ yǒu liǎnɡ sān ɡè cǎoméi.

我有两三个草莓。

I have 2 or 3 strawberries.



To master “二èr” and “两liǎnɡ” correctly, you not only need to remember the grammar rules, but practice them in daily conversations. If you want to learn Chinese in a fast way, you can join our 1 on 1 skype mandarin lessons and start speaking Chinese with a native Chinese teacher!

True or False?

Wǒ xǐhuɑn zhè liǎnɡtiáo liányīqún.

我喜欢这两条连衣裙。( )

I like these two dresses.



2)

Wǒ zài liǎnɡ lóu.

我在两楼。( )

I am in the second floor.



3)

Sānfēnzhīèr de xuéshēnɡ huì shuō yīnɡyǔ.

三分之二的学生会说英语。( )

Two-thirds of the students can speak English.



4)

Zhè liànɡ qìchē èr wàn yuán.

这辆汽车二万元。( )

This car is 20,000 yuan.



Answer

1) ✔, 2) ✘, 3) ✔, 4) ✘

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