My HSK 2 textbook contains the following dialogue and translation:

How tall is he?
He is more than 180 centimeters tall.

The second sentence is not explained in the book and I am struggling to understand it:

  1. What is the purpose of 几 in this sentence?
  2. Google Translate tells me it means "One meter eight" and a reverse translate gives me 一米八. Why is the book saying 1m 80cm instead of 1m 8cm?
  3. Why does the book's translation include the word "more than"? Which character is providing the meaning of "more than" in this sentence? HanziCraft does not list this as one of the meanings of 几, for example.
  • Google translate is terrible at translating Chinese numbers. – Ben Jackson Feb 17 at 21:31
  • 一米八 actually means 1m 8dm (decimetres). – Victor Mar 12 at 15:15

一米八几 means 1.8 x meters, where x is usually between 1 and 9. So the person's height is between 1.81 meters and 1.89 meters.

Therefore for your first question, 几 stands for some number that the speaker can not provide an exact value.

For your second question, the translation by google is not quite correct.

And for your last question, the meaning a few is what is being used in this sentence.

  • 无三不成几, '几' has to be at least 3. If it was '一米八多' then you are correct to state it is between 1.81 meters and 1.89 meters – Tang Ho Feb 17 at 18:03
  • Thanks for the answer, very informative. @TangHo Would you be willing to post an answer based on your comment? (if you have a citation that would be even better). – JBentley Feb 17 at 18:10

zyy's answer is correct. I'd like to add that 一米八几 is usually used in an interrogative sentence. E.g. 他一米八几了? The sentence is applied when the speaker has forgotten the last digit of the exact number and he asks for it.

  • I think 他一米八几? or 他一米八几来着? are more commonly used here. 了 in 他一米八几了 does not make much sense to me since it is not associated with any past event – Ben Yang Feb 18 at 19:32
  • @BenYang 他一米八几了?and 他一米八几?are nuanced. 他一米八几了?suggests that you forget the last digit, but you are sure about the part 18x. 他一米八几?is a generic one and doesn't have that implication. – dan Feb 18 at 23:01

Google Translate is wrong here.

一米八 refers to 1.8 metres, so the English translation should be one metre eighty.

You can regard 一米八 as 一米八分米, i.e. one metre and eight decimetres, so it is one metre and eighty centimetres.

一米八 refers to 1.8x metres, so the English translation should be one metre eighty-something.

If you want to express one metre eight, i.e. 1.08 metres, it is 一米八 in Chinese.

Similarly, 一块三 means ¥1.3, so it is one yuan thirty fen; 一镑六 means £1.6, so it is one pound sixty pence.

Always keep in mind that when people say “x units y”, it always means “x units y deciunits” in Chinese, although it usually means “x units y centiunits” in English.


一米八几=It could go from one meter and 81 centimeters to one meter and 89 centimeters.

一米=1 meter
八=in this case, it means 80 centimeters or 0.8 meters.
几=in this case, it is like a range from 1 to 9.


'几' means 'a few'

一米八 = 1.8M = 180cm

一米八(几) = 1.8 M (and a few cm)

无三不成几, '几' has to be at least 3. So '一米八几' is between 1.83M and 1.89M

However, if the number is close to the next decimal, like 1.87 - 1.89, we usually say '差不多一米九' (almost 1.9M) instead of '一米八几' (1.8 and some cm).

Therefore, in practice, '一米八几' is referring to height between 1.83M and 1.86M

'多' means more than. If it was '一米八多' then it means 'more than 1.8 but not yet 1.9.

一米八多 would be between 1.81M and 1.86M in practice

180cm is about 5'11"

  • If downvoting, please explain what is wrong with the answer. Thanks! – JBentley Feb 18 at 11:53
  • @JBentley Dan has strong opinion about my answers for some reason. – Tang Ho Feb 18 at 11:55
  • I didn't say zyy's answer stating 一米八几 is between 1.81m and 1.89m is wrong, that's why I said "in practice". In practice people usually say '一米八一, '一米八二' and so on, if it is more than 3, it is common to say '一米八多/几' ; if it is close to 1.9m, it is common to say '差不多一米九' – Tang Ho Feb 18 at 12:12
  • 1
    It is similar to telling time on clock in English. For example, from 'five fifteen' (5:15) to 'five and a half' (5:30), we add the minute after the hour; but when it is close to six (5:45 - 5:55), it is common to say 'quarter to six' or 'five to six'; if it is 5:59, it is common to say 'five fifty nine' or 'almost six' – Tang Ho Feb 18 at 12:25
  • I disagree here. From my experience at least, people can refer to anything that's more than 10 (less than 20) as 十几. If one says 十几个人 I'd assume it's in the 11-19 range. I agree with your point that if it's close to the 190, people say 差不多一米九 or 一米九不到 though. Also 180cm is close to 5'11 actually. – Ben Yang Feb 18 at 19:09

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