The number two 二and 两
There are two forms for the number two in Mandarin Chinese: 二 and 两. When can they correctly replace each other and when not?
asked 3 years, 5 months ago
Here are some general rules:
1. When the number two appears before a measure word, 两 is most often used.
- 我有两本书。 I have two books.
Since 本 is a measure word, we'd better use 两 here. “二本书” may not be grammatically wrong, but it doesn’t sound as good as “两本书”.
2. In numerical expressions, 二 is more often used.
Please keep in mind that the proper expression of "twelve books" is 十二本书. Even though the number two is used before a measure word, we cannot use 两 here. Twelve should be used as a whole.
3. When describe asordinal numbers, 二 is used.
- 第二本书 the second book
- 星期二 Tuesday
- 二月 February, the second month
There may be more cases apart from these. Welcome here if you have any questions.
answered 3 years, 5 months ago