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Say It Right Series

Measure words and formality

Posted by simonpettersson December 2, 2009 in the Group General Discussion.

Tags: measure words, formal, formailty, colloquial

In cases where there are many acceptable measure words, one of which is 个, does it sound formal to use another measure word in daily speech?

Take for example the word 村庄, cūnzhuāng, "village". According to nciku, there are three acceptable measure words: 处 chù, 个 gè and 座 zuò. I find the 个 pretty bland and unevocative. I'd much rather use for example 处. But I know that 个 is used a lot more in colloquial speech than in formal and written sentences. Does this mean that if I say 一处村庄, I will sound formal?

Are there general rules here, or does it vary depending on the word?

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