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 8 years, 3 months ago


1 Answer


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.

  • 一,二,三,
  • 十二,二十

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 8 years, 2 months ago


0     Thank you, your explanation is detailed. -- Spencer Lewis 8 years, 2 months ago

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