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I wanted to talk about individual white hairs in a beard. I was taught that individual hairs where always 毛。So I said:

一些白毛已经出现了

This was immediately corrected to:

一些白发已经出现了

Shall I discard the rule that I learned from my professor? Is there a better rule, which I can apply in its stead? Should 毛 perhaps be used only with the measure word 根?

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Generally speaking, hair that grows out of the top of your head is 髮(发), hair around a man's mouth is 鬍鬚(胡须), and hair in other parts of your body is 毛. 毛 is usually specified by the body part, e.g.

鼻毛 nostril hair,

腋毛 armpit hair,

睫毛 eye lash

胸毛 chest hair

眉毛 eye-brow hair

Note that 眉毛 can refer to individual eye-brow hair, or the whole eye-brow itself.

頭髮 is often used instead of just 髮

If you want to talk about individual white hair in your beard, it is 白鬍鬚(白胡须)。白发 or 白頭髮 is white hair on your head.

根 is the measure word for individual strands of hair.

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  • Is 胡须 used in China to mean beard and mustache?
    – r13
    Sep 30, 2021 at 0:45
  • I think "beard" is 胡须 & "mustache" is 胡子? Sep 30, 2021 at 2:30
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抱歉,您的表达有点问题。我无法理解你 “具体”想要表达什么。 对于胡子上面长的毛,我们一般称为“胡须”。 你可以这样使用: 我的一些胡须已经变白了。

量词,如果是很多,比如 四个以上,我建议 您 使用 “一些”,“有些”等量词。

祝您生活愉快!

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The correction 一些白发已经出现了 is worse than what you were saying 一些白毛已经出现了, with references to the beard, or mustache. Although 毛 is rarely used to describe the hair around your lips or jaws, it is not completely out of line, but the use of 发 is.

The famous use of 毛 for such case is the old saying: "嘴上無毛,做事不牢". Another saying that refers to 毛 as hair is "毛頭小子. The former refers to the unreliability of a young person. The latter refers to the immaturity and inexperience of the young person.

However, while 毛 can mean the hair on head, such as 他頭上僅存的幾根毛..., 发 can't be used to describe any body hairs but on the head.

You can modify your sentence to "我嘴上長出了一些(幾根)白毛". With referring to your mouth, I think the sentence is acceptable, although "我嘴上長出了一些(幾根)白鬍子(鬚)" is more proper and formal.

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对于人体除了头发以外的毛发,中文一般“部位+毛”的形式来表达。不过,胡须是一个例外,我们一般就称之为胡子或者胡须,不用“毛”或者“发”。比如你所描述的情况通常就应该表达为“我长了一些白胡子”。 不过有时候我们也会用不加部位的“毛”这个字来开玩笑,比如你可以说你自己胡子里长了一些白毛,或者说你红头发的密友“长了一头红毛”。但是一般不用“发”来形容头发以外的毛发,开玩笑也不会用。

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