I have:


I keep seeing 余年 = one's remaining years, but I'm pretty sure 十余年 means 'for the last ten years', not the (10 remaining) years ahead.

It's not as if 娃哈哈 only has 10 years left, or is it??

  • iciba:余 <数> (大数或度量单位等后面的零头) more than ; odd ; over 十余年:More than ten years 相关例句: 1.The country was an artificial construct held together by force and intimidation for more than 70 years.这个国家是靠武力和恐吓维系达七十余年的人治政权。 iciba翻译:Wahaha beverage industry for more than ten years leading the Chinese,
    – user6065
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 23:50
  • Thanks, but why do the dictionaries keep saying 'the years ahead, remaining', when this clearly refers to years gone by, the past??zdic.net/c/9/156/342784.htm
    – Pedroski
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 23:53
  • "汉语水平考试词典"余 (动/名/数)。。。(数)[义3]整数以后的零数(书)(more than;odd;over):一百~斤|二十~元|他在部队当了十~年兵
    – user6065
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 0:02
  • why not consult mentioned www.zdic.net。for 余
    – user6065
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 0:09
  • dictionaries say as adjective 形容词,余 means (剩下的) surplus ; spare ; remaining ; as 数词 it has the meaning stated above, this can be compared with such other 数词 for approximate numbers (概数)as 多、来 which follow "十、百、千、完"等数词后边表示多于前边的数目。This has been discussed at this site at leastfor 多 before。In the case of 上下 the number can be more general
    – user6065
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 0:43

1 Answer 1


十余年 means more than ten years but less than twenty years.

Oxford Chinese-English Dictionary

余 (2)

C. 数


  • 20余人

      twenty-odd people
  • 有百余人。

      There are over a hundred people.

Modern Chinese Dictionary

余 (2)

(5) [数] 表示整数之外的零头,相当于“多”。


So basically, when 余 follows a number, it often indicates the remainder over the smallest unit (个、十、百、千、万...) of the round number it follows.


  • 十余 = 1十+余

    the round number is 十(10)

    ∵ the unit of the round number is 十(10^1)

    ∴ 余 < 十(10)

    ∴ 10 < 十余 < 20

  • 两百余 = 2百+余

    the round number is 2百(200)

    ∵ the unit of the round number is 百(10^2)

    ∴ 余 < 百(10^2)

    ∴ 200 < 两百余 < 300


The construction pattern: XXX (专注/引领) YYY ZZZ(余) 年 is a common usage among slogans and promotional materials. XXX is often the name of a company, YYY is the industry or business the company is in and zzz is the time it has been doing the business. This is generally to show that the company has a long history in the business and has a lot of experiences.


  • IBM专注商业计算200年
  • Thanks, but I don't think you quite understood what I was asking. We have the phrase ‘余年’ = ‘余生’。This is easily understood. Both phrases indicate 'future time, time remaining'. However, if I place '十‘ in front of '余年‘ the meaning changes radically. '十余年‘ indicates 'past time, for the past 10 years or more'. I find this very strange.
    – Pedroski
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 22:54
  • @Pedroski I see your point here. If you want to say 10 years left it should be 余十年, which I could recall seeing anywhere. But the construction is definitely correct. The usage of 余 here and 余年 are different from it in 十余年. Actually I only see 余生 in real world usage, 余年 is way too fancy even in written unless for poems or lyrics Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 0:09
  • Thanks again, I could understand that in my sentence '十余年‘ could not be referring to 'remaining years', but the dictionaries told me '余年‘ means that, which was confusing.
    – Pedroski
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 0:34
  • @Pedroski You got confused probably because you didn't parse it correctly. It's 十余|年 not 十|余年. So it has nothing to do with 余年.
    – hrzhu
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 3:10
  • Thanks, I can understand that too. What puzzles me, what really interests me from the semantic point of view, is, how do we know this? 余年 is an ordinary phrase. Put 十 in front and everything changes. How or why this is so interests me. Imagine a molecule made of 2 atoms BC, then along comes an atom A. A interacts with BC, and afterwards we are left with AB as a molecule, and C as an atom. This is a result of potential energy differences. In Linguistics, what is the underlying cause?
    – Pedroski
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 4:42

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