We know that the classifier for 瓶(píng):bottle is 个. 一个瓶:a bottle On the other hand, the word 瓶(píng):bottle itself, can be a classsifer for liquids like water. So if we want to say "a bottle of water", which one of the following is correct?

  1. 一个瓶水 The 2nd word is classifier for the 3rd word. And the 3rd word is classifier for the 4th word.
  2. 一瓶水

I have never encountered more than one measure word at once. 瓶 is either a noun or a measure word. When it is a noun, you would normally add 子 to create 瓶子.

a bottle of water: 一瓶水

a bottle: 一个瓶子 (or 一只(zhī)瓶子)


You have probably learned that when you want to count nouns in Chinese, a classifier, or measure word, is needed, for instance, one book 一本書, two roads 兩條路, three dogs 三隻狗 ... etc. 瓶子 as a noun, meaning "bottle", needs its own classifier 个.

What do you do when what you're trying to count isn't countable, like a liquid or a gas? In such cases, you will need a container-measure. 瓶 is one of these container-measures. When it's used as a measure or classifier, it's no longer a noun and does not need a classifier as such. That is why 一瓶水 is correct but *一个瓶水 is not.

Another example of a container-measures would be 杯 (cup/glass).

一個杯子 a cup/glass

一杯水 a cup/glass of water

There are other kinds of classifiers as well. A common plural classifier is 些. And classifiers are also needed for abstract things such as thoughts, love affairs ... etc. But I will leave those for another question on another day.


Only the second one in your question is correct. Note that 一 modifies 瓶, which means bottle, and 瓶 modifies 水. However, you also need to keep in mind that 瓶水 cannot go by itself: it means bottle of water, which lacks of a quantifier.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.