My teacher detracted a few points for using 一把手機。It seems that 一台,一部, 一個 are better choices. However, I find many occurrences of 一把手機

Google search

Is it a dialectal phenomenon? Maybe in dialects where 把 and 部 sound similar?

Edit: This source claims that 一把手機 occurs in 溫州方言

  • 1
    Also 支 or 只 is using for cellphone in Taiwan
    – xenophōn
    May 18, 2018 at 1:51

5 Answers 5


To me, 部 is a formal classifier for 手机. 台 is usually used for a bigger machine, like computer & TV 一台电脑 & 一台电视. 一台手机 doesn't sound quite right to me.

一把手机 is not used in practice for whatever reason. I guess it might be because 我要买一把手机 could mean you want to buy a handful of 手机s, implying several 手机s, not just one.

Colloquially, sometimes I heard 一个手机 is being used. Like in the sentences: 我要买一个手机; 我想买个手机.

Well, 我要买一部手机 sounds more formal and it's not as casual as 我要买一个手机 or 我想买个手机 in our daily communications.

That's my observation from my neck of woods. Others from other regions may take this differently.

  • "一把手机" sounds weird. Normally, one hand only can hold one mobile phone. "一把" usually appear before small things such as "瓜子" "盐".
    – T-Pioneer
    Jul 16, 2020 at 12:46

From Wiktionary:

  • Classifier for objects that can be held using handles or knobs, such as guns, chairs, brooms, umbrellas.
  • Classifier for handfuls of something, such as grains, soil.
  • Classifier for bundles or bunches.
  • Classifier for some abstract ideas, such as force, effort or age.
  • Classifier for something done with the hand.

I agree that「臺」or「部」sounds better (as a matter of perception; both are specifically used for machines/devices), because 手機 falls most appropriately into the last group, and sounds a bit vulgar (as if you're doing your cellphone).

I don't agree that「個」is better than「把」, though.

  • NB: you could possibly say that 手機 falls under the first or second groups, but it's still not as fitting as「臺」or「部」.
    – dROOOze
    May 17, 2018 at 15:37
  • This is interesting. My teacher thinks 個 is acceptable, my former tandem partner thought 把 was acceptable, but 個 not. So far everyone seems to accept 部 and 台。
    – Ludi
    May 17, 2018 at 16:07

把 is a cultural usage in China, it suggests that the phone feels light when you take/carry it.

But I don't recommend using it, because we usually describe small objects as "一把 small objects", more like "a handful of small objects".

For example:

一把小挂件 = a handful of small pendants.


Put '手机的量词是什么' in 百度, you will get a lot of answers,most of them 部.

My 手机 is so big and thin, I'd like to say '这张手机‘

Have a look here.


  • 2
    No, not 张 .....
    – fefe
    May 17, 2018 at 23:24
  • @fefe You are absolutely right that 一张 is not a proper classifier for "phone", but I think here Pedroski was joking. At times I also jokingly say that my phone is 一张, because it's very big. I'm writing this comment to clarify Pedroski's answer for other readers.
    – blackgreen
    Jul 16, 2020 at 9:19

Normally we say: 一台新手机 or 一部新手机. With "台", "部" as the classifier for the new mobile-phone.

Or: 一个手机. for the phones used for a while...

We wouldn't say "一把手机".

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