Chinese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Chinese language. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have read article which show this sentence 一本书, then if want to make it plural, it becomes 书本, so my question is it for all noun and measure word ?

Example :

一首歌 becomes 歌首

share|improve this question
Who told you that 書本 is the plural form of 書 ...... – Henry HO Aug 19 '14 at 7:05
Well I've never seen 鱼条 but you can definitely find 猪头! – user3306356 Aug 19 '14 at 7:06
@user3306356 How about sweet and sour fish chips? 糖醋鱼条 – NS.X. Aug 23 '14 at 0:40
@NS.X. Ah! Ruined my joke! – user3306356 Aug 23 '14 at 2:31

Stop reading that article - it is totally wrong.

The issue is that and 书本 are both plural and singular at the same time. Which one it is depends solely on the context. For example, it is plural in 我常常讀書: "I read books often". In contrast, it is singular in 把書放下: "Put down the book."

You can specify plurals, however. How that actually works is that is a counter for books (). For example, 一本书 meaning "one (volume of) book". Therefore, to get plurals, you can use @windrose's example of 几本书, meaning "several (volumes of) books".

It is essentially a coincidence that the counter for books can be appended to the character for books to make 书本. Do not assume you can do this with any noun.

share|improve this answer

It doesn't work the way you think which means plural noun doesn't come from noun+[measure word]. Actually I doubt that the concept of plural noun applies to Chinese. Instead, to express plural concept, you use numeric description before a noun.

So you can say 几本书 (several books), 一些书 (some books). 书本 to me is more like a collective noun. Similarly, you say 几首歌 (several songs), 很多歌 (many songs), etc.

share|improve this answer

in 书本 is a noun meaning booklet; notebook, which is completely different from its function as a measure word. Therefore 书本 is not the plural form for book, but a general/abstract reference to 'books and notepads'.

The rule of '[noun] + [measure word]' does not exist, very few instances of which could make any sense. 书本 is just one of these rare coincidences.

Regarding the phrase in your question, 一本书, its structure is a basic pattern for noun phrase:

[count word] + [measure word] + [noun].

To turn it into plural form, you can either increment the count word, e.g.

两本书 (two books), 三本书 (three books)

Or change the measure word from a singular measure word to a collective measure word, e.g.

一些书 (some books), 一摞书 (a pile of books), 一套书 (a collection of books)

Or replace the [count word + measure word] altogether with a quantitative adjective (phrase), e.g.

很多书 (many books), 大量书籍 (a large number of books)

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.