Khmer classifiers

Khmer Classifiers

Brief introduction to Cambodian Classifiers

Specific words that are used to identify nouns are called classifiers. The Khmer language commonly uses classifiers for some words, but sometimes they are not used at the speakers discretionary. Confusing I know!

English does have it’s set of classifiers like glasses of beer, pairs of shoes, and rolls of toilet paper. This page is going to try to list some of the most common Khmer classifiers so you can try to use them or when you hear the term in daily conversation you can understand it’s purpose.


Vocab List of Khmer Classifiers

Nek – People

son-lek – sheets of paper

gbaal – animals and books

dung – number of times

dom – piece, roll, bunch

jaan – plates of food

gaew – glasses of beer, water, coke

daab – bottles of beer, water, coke

guu – pairs of things

groab – small round things like candy, seeds, pills

joan – floor as in what stories is your office on

yaang – kinds, types, ways

bon-dtub – rooms

jbab – documents, copies

jam-net – slices

daum – sticks, guns

gii-loo – kilo (kind of like some speakers have a g and not k on kit luy

maet – meters

gii-loo-maet – kilometers

baaw – bags of rice

gam-plee – set of clothes

How to use Khmer Classifiers

So now we know some Khmer classifiers how do we use them? Well, usually the classifiers comes at the end of the sentence of phrase.

For example, sbaek-jong bpii guu (two pairs of shoes). This sentence goes noun + the modifier + classifier.

Sometimes Khmer classifiers are used in a sentence or phrase when their English equivalent phrase or sentence would not use a classifiers.

For example, tnam bey groab which is 3 pills.

One more example of a Khmer classifier in a sentence form. Kynum jong dtin coca (dtek-krooik) bpii daab. I want to buy 2 bottles of coca cola. Coca cola is pronounced with just the first word as in Coca like the coca plant. Also if you wanted to say pop, soda, the generic term is dtek-krooik.

I hope this article helps a little bit on learning the Cambodian language and the small nuances the language contains.

, , , ,


  1. To Know and How to use the Cambodian word howie | Learn Khmer Now - March 21, 2014

    […] know what a classifier is, or want to know more about Cambodian classifiers this article, “Khmer Classifiers” contains an introduction to what a classifier is. It also explains where the classifier is used in […]

  2. Study Khmer - Class Syllabus - Beginner Learn Khmer Now - April 10, 2014

    […] Classifiers […]

Leave a Reply