The accepted answer to Number two in chinese: 二 vs 两 writes:

Numbers that are larger than 100, e.g. 两百, 两千三百六十二. 百, 千, and 万 can be seen as a sort of measure word.

Now, 十万 (shí wàn) means "hundred thousand" in Chinese. So the above sentence implies 两十万 (liǎng shí wàn) is correct and means "two hundred thousand".

On Baidu 二十万 gets 19.4 million hits, whereas 两十万 gets 6.2 million, so while it looks like 二十万 is more frequently used, it also indicates that 两十万 is indeed valid.

However, I'm curious about how 两十 is incorrect, yet 两十万 (which contains the incorrect 两十) is okay.

Question: Why is 两十万 okay when it contains 两十 which is incorrect?

I guess it's because 两十万 means "两 of 十万" rather than the incorrect "两十 of 万"; I don't really see why it's parsed this way though.

  • 3
    No, 两十万 is so grating to the ears.
    – Mou某
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 2:50
  • It feels so wrong, it hurts. I think because it precedes the 十,it should be 二 and not 兩。
    – judester
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 2:59
  • The sentence does not imply anything other than the listed words. Maybe only 亿 can be added to the list.
    – fefe
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 14:12
  • just try to compare pronunciations of equivalent Chinese characters, to find out how to 'save efforts', 'pronouncing it easily' in daily oral practice. Tune of characters is a factor for getting a favorite, of course for most people. Saying multiple adjacent 3rd tunes like 两百两十两两(202两), your pronunciation speed is decreased, whereas if you just want to say it easily, you can say 两个 other than 二个, saying it easily can save your efforts, especially in a long lecture, if you want to say it loudly, use 4th tune version instead; In writing we don't need consider such differences。 Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 2:05

4 Answers 4


Numbers that are larger than 100, e.g. 两百, 两千三百六十二. 百, 千, and 万 can be seen as a sort of measure word.

So the measure word here is 万 rather than 十万.

二十万 is parsed as "twenty wan" rather than "two shiwan", and for "twenty", it's always 二十, not 两十.

两十 is just never correct, no matter what position it is in a numeral.


「兩」didn't originally mean two. The character was first used for what is now written「輛」, the unit of measure for vehicles, being differentiated from「丙」and composed of two「丙」side-by-side:

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The mark「一」was a decorative stroke added on top later to produce「兩」(note, a similar process occurred with the character「雨」).

The etymology of liǎng is ultimately not known, but very early on,「兩」was used as a phonetic loan for several meanings. The relevant ones to the modern language are:

  • Comparing and contrasting, or describing, two objects/people/situations.
    • 《詩・齊風・還》: “並驅從兩肩兮, 揖我謂我儇兮。”
    • 《莊子・人間世》: “吾未至乎事之情, 而既有陰陽之患矣;事若不成, 必有人道之患。 是兩也, 為人臣者不足以任之, 子其有以語我來。”
  • Unit of measurement of weight or objects.
    • 《詩・齊風・南山》: “葛屨五兩, 冠緌雙止。”
    • 《禮記・雜記下》: “納幣一束, 束五兩, 兩五尋。”

From traditional usage,「兩」(1) first of all refers to one or several units of something, then by extension (2) refers to a comparison or description of several/some/a small number of or two units/things. This is not the same usage as the abstract number「二」, and is why you never say abstract numbers with「兩」(e.g. when talking about telephone numbers, decimal numbers, etc.), and never use「兩」when counting objects which use「兩」as a measure word (e.g. for taels).

It is this differential usage which also precludes「兩十」from being a clear expression; 「十」is homophonous with too many other words, unlike「百」,「千」,「萬」.

To answer the question directly,

  • 「兩十」also turns up Baidu hits; it is just as valid or invalid as「兩十萬」
  • Some of the Baidu hits are actually using「兩」as「輛」
  • The other ones may be regional colloquialisms; from a discussion here:


Finally, note that

  • In formal currency numerals, there is only the alternative character「貳」, and none corresponding for「兩」. This is related to「兩」being invalid for use as a number in traditional currency systems.
  • It is exceedingly rare to use「兩」for the meaning two in the Sinoxenic languages (Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese), indicating that using it this way freely is a rather recent colloquial Chinese invention

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say 兩十萬 is wrong. For what it’s worth, my family is from Taiwan and we’ve been out of Taiwan for a couple of decades, so, southern and not very modern colloquial Mandarin.

As per this link , and what may be missing in the old post you referenced, a minor point that bears revisiting is this: the placement of 二、兩 in a numeric value dictates which is used. In front of 十,it should always be 二, whether you’re saying 二十 or 二十萬.


On Baidu 二十万 gets 19.4 million hits, whereas 两十万 gets 6.2 million

judging from hits only is, well, not enough. e.g.


it should interpret as 想買 (want to buy) 一兩 (a, 兩 is an identifier) 十萬左右 (about $100,000) 的車 (car).

this error would occur in simplifed chinese only, cause in traditional chinese, we use 輛 (u+8f1b) as identifier.


this one should be 1 (one) 兩 (unit of weight) of 十萬杵 (brand name) 油煙墨 (oil smoke ink?)

these two examples shown that 兩 can be identifier or noun. insisting 兩 as "two" only in "兩十萬" is, wrong.

so, one need to know the preceding and following text of "兩十萬", before making judgement.

have fun :)

  • 1
    In simplified Chinese "辆" should be used.
    – user4072
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 6:40
  • 1
    AFAIK only Japanese merges 輛 and 兩 (両).
    – dROOOze
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 6:42
  • unfortunately, there're usage of "一兩車" in simplified chinese. in baidu: zhidao.baidu.com/… ; or google: google.com/… Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 10:00

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