The other day I went to a Chinese supermarket in Toronto to buy one and a half pound of minced meat. I told the meat department operator that I want "磅半碎肉" in Cantonese. That guy gave me half a pound instead. I repeated my request in English, but he didn't seem to understand it. Then I said "磅半" in Mandarin. He still thought I was asking for 'half a pound' instead of 'one and a half pound'.

Until a Mandarin speaking lady beside me said to him: "他想要一磅半的碎肉", then he gave me the correct amount of minced meat.

I am wondering, in Cantonese, omitting the counting word '一' before a measurement classifier followed by '半' is a common practice. We usually say "寸半, 尺半, 磅半, 噸半" instead of "一寸半, 一尺半, 一磅半, 一噸半"

My question : 'Is 一 not omitted in Mandarin when it comes to measurement classifiers followed by '半'?

(I don't think I pronounced my order so badly that he didn't know what I wanted, because he did give me half a pound of minced meat at first)

  • 磅半, these 2 characters' pronunciations are close, so he assumes that your pronunciation is not too exact, and thought you were pronucing 半磅, ^_^. Sep 8, 2017 at 0:52

1 Answer 1


No. It is not omitted.

In Mandarin, "一寸半, 一尺半, 一磅半, 一噸半" cannot be said as "寸半, 尺半, 磅半, 噸半".

  • Thanks for the clarification. BTW, now people who read this post also know 寸半, 尺半, 磅半 and 噸半 are all valid terms in Cantonese
    – Tang Ho
    Sep 8, 2017 at 1:01

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