How do we know if there is only one peach or multiple peaches in the sentence 桃是水果? How do we know in general? With the use of measure words?

  • We can't, without contexts. Anyway, does it matter in this sentence?
    – user4072
    Jul 27 '16 at 1:31
  • Not really. Though this was a fill in the blank and the answer was peaches instead of peach.
    – Ian L
    Jul 27 '16 at 18:20
  • The character 桃 in 桃是水果 and 我吃了个桃, likes the character 人 in 中国人 (the Chinese people, 中国人民) and 中国人 (a Chinese person, 中国的人), the former one means people but not a particular person. The meaning of 桃 here likes that the Chinese character 人 in 中国人民 equals to the English word people but not one person.
    – xenophōn
    Oct 16 '17 at 4:39


Plurals Chinese nouns and other parts of speech are not generally marked for number, meaning that plural forms are mostly the same as the singular. However, there is a plural marker 们 [們] men, which has limited usage. It is used with personal pronouns, as in 我们 [我們] wǒmen, meaning "we" or "us" (from 我 wǒ, "I, me"), and can be used with nouns representing humans, most commonly those with two syllables, like in 朋友们 [朋友們] péngyoumén "friends" (from 朋友 péngyou "friend"). Its use in such cases is optional.[13] It is never used when the noun has indefinite reference, or when it is qualified by a numeral.[14] The demonstrative pronouns 这 [這] zhè "this" and 那 nà "that" may be optionally pluralized by the addition of 些 xiē, making 这些 [這些] zhèxiē "these" and 那些 nàxiē "those".

Since Chinese nouns usually do not have plural form, we have to use plural markers to indicate plural like the Wiki article stated, you can also indicate a noun is singular or plural with measure words like 一個(a /one), 兩個 (two); or predeterminer like 所有(all) 有些(some)

In the case of " 桃是水果" we can deduct from the context that we are talking about "all peaches" , because 一個桃是水果 (a peach is fruit) doesn't make sense.

In 桃都是水果, 所有 is implied

  • 桃 是 水果 can mean "a peach is a fruit" cf. jukuu:1. Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? 蕃茄是水果还是蔬菜?
    – user6065
    Jul 26 '16 at 18:37
  • "a peach is a fruit" in Chinese is "一個桃是一個水果"
    – Tang Ho
    Jul 26 '16 at 18:40
  • "蕃茄是水果还是蔬菜?" in English is "Is tomato fruit or a vegetable? " here 蕃茄 meant "tomato" in general, "is (all) tomato fruit or a vegetable?" is implied.
    – Tang Ho
    Jul 26 '16 at 18:47
  • 桃 是 水果 "a peach is a fruit" or "peaches are fruits" or "peach in general is a fruit"
    – user6065
    Jul 26 '16 at 18:58
  • Totally on board with @TangHo here. Contextually there is nothing else that it could be other than "all peaches", because there is no possible circumstance that someone is going to say '桃 是 水果' to mean anything else. I would even say translating "蕃茄是水果还是蔬菜? " as 'Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?' is wrong. It wouldn't be 'Is a tomato' rather 'are tomatoes'
    – Mou某
    Jul 27 '16 at 11:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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