For example:

上千苹果

Does that mean exactly one thousand apples, or over a thousand apples, or roughly a thousand apples, or up to a thousand apples?

  • 上千 thousands of,but why no CL:个,颗 for 苹果 ? – user6065 Sep 19 '15 at 19:58
  • CL can often be omitted, especially for larger numbers. 两千人 is more natural than 两千个人. – user4452 Sep 19 '15 at 22:55
  • it depends on the context,苹果 may itself be used as a measure, esp. if "上千苹果" is used attributively (w/o 的),e.g.(?) 上千苹果亏损,for 人 this seems more familiar – user6065 Sep 19 '15 at 23:30
  • When you want to emphasize that the quantity is a large number,you say 上千\百\万\亿. Usually, the actually number is just slightly over that. 上千苹果( maybe 1001 ~1499),if 1500, he will say 达到1500个苹果, if 1501, he will say 近两千个苹果. Psychology. – wolfrevo Sep 21 '15 at 6:54
  • 1
    @Enrico As in larger round numbers, typically in the thousands. 八万二手苹果笔记本 is an example. Classifiers can also be omitted for idioms (四海) and in more formal speech. Increasingly, modern Mandarin treat numerals as a substitute for classifiers, or they are replaced by massifiers. – user4452 Sep 23 '15 at 19:38
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Over a thousand. An equivalent is 千余苹果.

Of the choices you gave, "over a thousand apples" is closest.

  1. exactly one thousand : no, because if it was exactly one thousand you wouldn't need the 上 to denote upwards at all
  2. over a thousand : closest. 上 conveys above, when used with hundreds or thousands, typically used to convey the sense of abundance and excess of hundreds or thousands
  3. roughly a thousand: no, for same reason as #1
  4. up to a thousand: no, because if it were up to, it would be something else like jihu/nearly

In the magnitude of thousands. If I see descriptions like this, they usually exaggerate a bit for the effect, so my understanding would be more like "oh, its up to 1000, maybe in the 800-900 ballpark."

Edit: Ok 上千 literally means "the figure can reach thousand". But again, such expression are more commonly used to emphasize the magnitude, so expect exaggerations.

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