When first learning Mandarin, one of the more difficult obstacles to tackle, can be learning all of the major measure words and how to use them. After all, there are quite a few to remember. However, one can't simply get by with 个 (gè) alone. In order to become fluent, one must successfully navigate the measure word terrain.
For those who don't understand what measure words are, I will break them down simply for you. Measure words are also known as classifiers. They are used along with numbers to specify the quantity of an object.
Here are some of the major measure words that you may encounter:
This classifier may be used for birds, certain animals, utensils, etc.
wǒ kàn dào yì zhī gǒu
I saw a dog.
Used for strip, article, item, clause, or long things (anything from pants to a river).
wǒ xiǎng mǎi liǎng tiáo yú
I would like to buy two fish.
This classifier is used for people and several objects. If unsure of what classifier to use, one can always use 个 as it is quite versatile.
wǒ yǒu yī gè qiú
I have one ball.
This classifier is used for long, slender objects.
yì gēn bàng qiú bàng
One baseball bat.
辆 is used as a classifier for vehicles.
This is used for papers, tables, chairs, and other flat objects.
This is used for boxes of objects. This could be used for a box of doughnuts for example.
There are many, many more classifiers out there. However, these are some of the more common ones. Hopefully this helped to clear up some of the major measure words/classifiers for some of you. More to come in the future!