I have learned that both words mean "a sentence". But they behave differently: 句子 requires a measure word and can be used separately, while 句话 does not (?) need the measure word and shouldn't be used alone. Plus it's similar to 菊花, which has a very interesting colloquial meaning.

But one native speaker went in-depth suggesting that they are not interchangeable. I only understood a bit. From what I gather, one might actually mean "an utterance" or "clause", an incomplete part of sentence. Let me quote him:

句 jù


话 huà


句子 jù zǐ







PS. I also don't understand his use of 词汇 here.

  • 3
    句子: sentence, 话: dialect; language; spoken words; speech; talk; words; conversation; what sb said; CL:种,席,句,口,番;thus 句 is a CL for 话 used for meaning, spoken words; speech; talk; words; conversation; what sb said, 一 can be omitted from 一句话 when used as object in some sentence by general rules for CL, 词汇 vocabulary; list of words, here could mean "this word/part of the English vocabulary"
    – user6065
    Dec 29, 2016 at 9:48
  • Thanks, so I have misinterpreted the meaning from the very beginning, but now I see :) Dec 29, 2016 at 12:44

3 Answers 3


"句话" is not a word. A qualifier is needed before it, like"一句话" or "两句话". No one say "句话" alone, because it is weird.

  • 4
    You can just treat 句 as a measure/counting word, which modifies the noun 话, so you can't say 句话 alone. However, in few cases, you may omit the number 一 as in 一句话。 for example, 你倒是说句话呀.
    – Huang
    Dec 29, 2016 at 12:52

From Johnzh's answer:

"句话" is not a word. A qualifier is needed before it,

  • Qualifiers provide specific detail of the noun.
  • Quantifiers tell how much or how many

With a classifier 句 precede the noun 话. we need to add a counting word to make a quantifier before the noun 话, to describe the quantity of it (e.g. 一句话, 几句话) ; or a pronoun (this, these, those) to show proximity of the noun (e.g. 这句话)

You can use qualifiers, quantifiers or both to modify a noun. For example: 一句话 (one sentence), 蠢话 (stupid speech), 一句蠢话(one stupid speech)

From Huang's comment:

However, in few cases, you may omit the number 一 as in 一句话。 for example, 你倒是说句话呀. – Huang

Yes, we can omit the singular counting word 一 and say "说句话" instead of "说一句话", if you have a verb before it; but we cannot omit plural counting words like 两 or 几 before the classifier 句.


句子 is a noun that refers to a sentence. It needs a measure word to be counted, like "一个句子."

话 is the noun in "句话," which means "speech." "句" is the measure word that you use for it. As johnzh said, you would never use "句话" on its own, but "一句话" could be understood as "one sentence of speech."

“用完整句子” - "Use complete sentences."

“他说了一句话就走了” - "He spoke one sentence and left."

“有几个句子我没看懂” - "There were a few sentences that I couldn't understand."

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