What is the difference between “二” and “两”?

difference between 二 and 两

“二” and “两” are literally the same but can’t be always used interchangeably. What is the difference between “二” and “两”?

1. to number: 一,二,三 ~ one, two, three ~

2. decimals and fractions: 六点二 6.2

3. used for an ordinal number: 第二 the second

4. used with measure words:  二英尺 two feet

5. the last item for multi-bit figures: 二百二十二 two hundred and twenty two

1. two: 两万元 two thousand people

2. both (sides); either (side):  两面 both sides

3. a unit of weight:二两茶叶 two liang of tea

4 some; a few: 说两句 say a few words;

“二” and “两”, which one to use?

1. When 二 and 两 are used together to express an approximate number,  for basic unit, you can only say 两三~; for tens digit,you can only say 十二三~,二三十~; in other cases, you can use either 二 or 两, e.g. 二三百/两三百~,二三万/两三万~.

2. 二 can be used only before traditional measure words such as 尺, 寸,里,亩,两,斤,etc, but 两 can be used before almost all the measure words. Therefore, you can’t say 二台机器, 二双鞋,二张桌子, etc because 台, 双, 张, etc are not traditional measure words.

3. 二 can be used as ordinal number, e.g. 第二 the second,二楼 the second floor but 两 can not.

4. 二 can be used in fractions and decimals but 两 can not, e.g. 1/4 四分之二,3.2 三点二, etc.

See also:

How to differentiate adjectives from adverbs?

How to differentiate between 多亏幸亏幸好好在?

How to differentiate between 必须 and 必需?

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