Both of these two words 条 and 根 in the dictionary are said to be measure words for long and thin objects. What are the differences between them?

  • users would like to raise a strong protest against deletion of comment (one of the first reactions to question) calling attention to a previous question and answer that precisely covered the question chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/31322/… (as user pointed out OP mistakenly asked for comparison between 条 and 匹,so answer and comments covered those, while after OP corrected 匹 to 根 answers (comments) then provided a long list of examples for 根. Returning to present post, for a long time while this comment was not yet – user6065 Mar 16 '19 at 18:58
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    deleted there were no points given to answers, apparently because the earlier post in the view of many users had in fact already answered the question. – user6065 Mar 16 '19 at 18:59
  • @user6065 You are supposed to be a single user, not multiple "users". Why do you protest deletion of comments, when it is standard practice across all stackexchange sites to delete comments when they're no longer needed? Why do you (or the multiple users logging in to your account, which is strictly against stackexchange's rules FYI) insist on using this site improperly? – dROOOze Mar 17 '19 at 11:19
  • User remembered that the question about measure words 条 and 根 had occurred not too long ago, unfortunately did not remember it occurred under wrong title involving 匹,so took a long time to find it. Why is the reference to an earlier post no longer needed if it answers the question or if it only has relevance? In the present case could the substance of the earlier post and its relation to the present one be taken into account? "users" is a manner of speech. – user6065 Mar 17 '19 at 16:51
  • can be a measure word for huge things. For example, 一条河, 一条烟囱, 一条船(all long and thin but huge) - you can't use 根 for huge things

  • can be a measure word for living things. For example, 一条蚯蚓, 一条蛇, 一条狗 (all long and thin and alive) - Don't use 根 for living things

  • can be a measure word for thin and long things with flat surface, For example, 一条手帕. 一条毛巾 (both long and thin and have a flat surface) - You can't use 根 for things that have a flat surface

  • can be a measure word for abstract concepts. For example, 一条规矩, 一条题目

  • is more common when used as a measure word for tiny things. For example, 一根绣花针, 一根火柴, 一根松针, 一根头发, 一根汗毛, (all long, thin and tiny)

  • can also replace 根 when used as a measure word for tiny things especially objects from living things. For example, 一根头发, 一根汗毛; 一条头发, 一条汗毛

For things that are not huge, tiny, alive or have a flat surface 條 and 根 are often interchangeable. For example, 一条长棍, 一根长棍, 一条短棒, 一根短棒

  • 一条题目sounds a little bit weird. I only use道 for 题目. And I don't even know the word 规举, did you mean 规矩? Also the word巾 doesn't sounds like Mandarin to me, I've only seen multi-syllable words using this character. – 炸鱼薯条德里克 Mar 16 '19 at 2:51
  • @炸鱼薯条德里克 Must be a Cantonese thing to say 一条题目 and 一条规矩 – Tang Ho Mar 16 '19 at 3:13
  • Never heard of 一条头发, 一条汗毛. 一条烟囱 is odd too. Maybe, the choices for measure words are regional. – dan Mar 17 '19 at 11:47
  • I have never heard of 一根铅笔 neither – Tang Ho Mar 17 '19 at 11:49
  • How about 一根木头? – 賈可 Jacky Mar 21 '19 at 5:15

Starting from the essential meanings of these two measure words, 条 is the small branch of tree, and 根 is the root of tree. In daily conversation, 条 is used for things that may be long and wiggly, such as 一条河(river), while 根 is for long, straight objects, such as 一根香菸(cigarette).

Sometimes, 条 and 根 are interchangeable, we can say 一条 or 一根 香蕉(banana), or 香腸(sausage).

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    There is an interesting comparison, 一条烟 and 一根烟 are different. – zyy Mar 15 '19 at 13:06
  • 一条烟 is one carton of cigarettes, and 一根烟 is just one cigarette. – Eyton Mar 16 '19 at 0:35

My experince is that 根 is used for small and hard objects such as 铅笔,香蕉,香烟, etc. Well, 条 is usually for big and soft ones like 蛇,河,船, 围巾,etc.

  • 一枝铅笔 is more common; and how is 一条船 soft and 一条蚯蚓 big? – Tang Ho Mar 16 '19 at 16:15
  • @TangHo 一根铅笔 is common too. 一支铅笔 sounds a little bit formal maybe. 船 is big and 蚯蚓 is soft. I don't think there is a good hard-and-fast rule for it anyway. – dan Mar 17 '19 at 0:01
  • @TangHo 当我第一眼看到铅笔的时候我第一反应也是,不应该是“一支铅笔”吗?但仔细想想,我们那儿(北方)方言,全是说“根”的。“给我来根儿笔”,“给我来根儿烟”,哈哈 – Zhang Mar 22 '19 at 9:24
  • @dan 论“支”是formal还是normal我也说不清了,反正现在北漂在北京,我家孩子是说“支”的,我跟她也说“支”。都快忘了我原来是说“根”的。 – Zhang Mar 22 '19 at 9:28

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