I have been reading into this topic and found a bit conflicting information - some say it is mandatory to put a classifier after demonstrative (e.g. zhè), while some say it actually is not mandatory.

For example a question "what's name of this cat", I have seen the following phrase:

zhè māo jiào shén me míng zì? 这猫叫什么名字 ?

so I think, should it not be with zhī?

zhè zhī māo jiào shén me míng zì? 这只猫叫什么名字?

Are both options correct? As I do not know characters much yet, I would be grateful for pinyin in the answers, if possible.

  • 2
    Both are fine, IMO, especially for spoken language, measure word is not mandatory.
    – user4072
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 14:47
  • 1
    Both of them are fine,but the second one is better.
    – Whhhhhhhhy
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 15:59

4 Answers 4


In oral circumstances, both are right. And just like other people say, the latter one is better.

In some region (Usually in Nothern Chinese accents, esp. Beijing accent), people use 这(zhei4) instead of 这个(zhe4 ge4)/这只(zhe4 zhi1). e.g.:

「瞧瞧这傻小子 (Qiáo qiao zhèi shǎ xiǎo zi)!」=「瞧瞧这个傻小子 (Qiáo qiao zhè ge shǎ xiǎo zi)!」=「Look at this stupid guy out there!」

  • hope you could understand my bad English T_T
    – Travis Hu
    Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 9:00

You should really have a measure word after a number or 'this' and 'that'. Therefore, 'zhe zhi mao' is the correct option.


@Gâr is right.

Adding measure words is always better so as to make a sentence semantically clear.

Because if I was asked 这猫叫什么名字 I probably would answer Well it's a Persian cat

Then not until you asked me again No! I'm asking 这猫叫什么名字 could I be able to exclude the possibility that you might be asking for the kind of the cat. Someone else may also prefer giving you its name firstly.

Chinese is highly context-dependent. Which means the contexts will greatly help pinpoint the exact meaning of the sentence, and they always do. (Thanks to context-denpendency, we need far less words to effectively make a sentence very clear.)

That's why we might say measure word is not mandatory because we seldom say a word or sentence without any context. Under proper context, both form can express their meanings clearly and that's OK.

Without any context, you'll have to omit no words so that you can express it clearly.

If the question is 这只猫叫什么名字 I would reply "Just call it Petty" since it clearly refers to THIS ONE cat.


I'm not a native, but as a Chinese teacher I always tell my students that the measure word is mandatory because the number 1 is implicit.

这(一)只猫 = this (one) cat

Note that when it's another number we don't omit it:

这两只猫 = these two cats
这三只猫 = these three cats

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