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What's the difference of two measure words between "个" and "口"?

edited August 2013 in Chinese
"个" (ge3) and "口" (kou3) are two important measure words describing people in Chinese. We can say "我家有三个人。".(wo3 jia1 you3 san1 ge4 ren2)  Also, we can say "我家有三口人。". (wo3 jia1 you3 san1 kou3 ren2)

Some time ago, a student asked me which sentence is correct. I said both of them are correct in Chinese grammar;however, there is slight difference between them. The first sentence "我家有三个人。" means there are three people in my home. The second sentence "我家有三口人。"means we have three family members. 

In other words, "口" is specifically used for describing family members number in Chinese sentence. 


  • I usually hear people say, 我家有三个人.  But, I hear the phrase 一家四口 a lot.  Oh, the numbers 3 and 4 are just arbitrary here :-)
  • edited December 2013
    May be I can explain the difference above. (I'm from HK)

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