I asked a Chinese friend if the measure word for 油条 (yóutiáo) is 条 (tiáo). They said I should use 根 (gēn), but I'm unsure why. It might be because it's plain wrong, or perhaps just that 根 is better.

Question: Are 根 and 条 both measure words for 油条?

From 小马词典:

  • classifier for long thin things (ribbon, river, road, trousers etc)
  • classifier for long slender objects, e.g. cigarettes, guitar strings

It seems to make sense to use 条 (especially since it's called 油条), although it also seems to make sense to use 根.

This is 油条 being cooked:


Image source: Wikimedia commons.

4 Answers 4


I think the main reason is that 油条 already includes the character 条, so to avoid double use, we say 一根油条.

This is the same as we say 一根面条,一根薯条,一根木条,...


I'd say that 根 is the most common unit word for long, straight objects, such as 一根葱 (spring onion), while 条 is used for things that may be long and wiggly, such as 一条河, 一条路, or 一条鱼.

Overall, though, your meaning wouldn't be confused. In terms of normal speech, measure words don't matter so much as long as you don't use one that's blatantly wrong. In this case 条 is pretty close to correct, so I wouldn't worry as long as you're not in an academic or formal situation.


You can say 一条, 两条 without 油条 at the end, since 一条油条 sounds like a tongue twister. You can even say 一个油条. But 跟 is still the most common counter.

Yo , 我刚刚码完代码, 点开这页网页, 想起我用一斤黄金, 买了两条油条, 吃完又含着, 一块冰块,说: 这真奇怪.

P.S. I am watching 中国有嘻哈....


Admittedly there is almost no difference based on the dictionary definition for its usage, and you'll find the same issue when applying it to other objects like cigarettes and bananas where both words are used almost interchangeably. But I might offer you some insight into another aspect that you can consider in how the words can be used.

The choice of the appropriate word, as suggested by some of the answers, depends on the context as well as the fluency of the sentence.

For example, if you wanted to purchase this item, you might actually use 買一个油条 to indicate or emphasis the quantity rather than the shape of item, which sounds better than 買一条油条 or 買一根油条.

When describing the item being consumed, 吃一条油条 might sound less fluent due to the repetition of the word, but the emphasis on the shape of the item helps you to understand how someone would eat it (because it is long and slender). You can also use 吃一根油条 but I don't hear it used as often.

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