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How To Post In Perfect Cantonese on Social Media

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You’re learning to speak Cantonese, and it’s going well. Your confidence is growing! So much so that you feel ready to share your experiences on social media—in Cantonese.

At Learn Cantonese, we make this easy for you to get it right the first time. Post like a boss with these phrases and guidelines, and get to practice your Cantonese in the process.

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1. Talking about Your Restaurant Visit in Cantonese

Eating out is fun, and often an experience you’d like to share. Take a pic, and start a conversation on social media in Cantonese. Your friend will be amazed by your language skills…and perhaps your taste in restaurants!

David eats at a restaurant with his friends, posts an image of their food, and leaves this comment:

POST

Let’s break down David’s post.

成班friend一齊試新餐廳,食到腍腍脷! (seng4 baan1 FRIEND jat1 cai4 si3 san1 caan1 teng1, sik6 dou3 lam2 lam2 lei6.)
“Trying a new restaurant with friends, it’s finger-licking delicious.”

1- 成班friend一齊試新餐廳, (seng4 baan1 FRIEND jat1 cai4 si3 san1 caan1 teng1,)

First is an expression meaning: “Whole group of friends try new restaurant together.”
In Hong Kong, new restaurants open up frequently. Sharing your eating experiences at new venues is one of the most common things to do on social media.

2- 食到腍腍脷! (sik6 dou3 lam2 lam2 lei6.)

Then comes the phrase - “finger-licking delicious.”
The phrase 腍腍脷 (lem2 lem2 lei6) indicate the action of “licking one’s lips” after eating delicious food.

COMMENTS

In response, David’s friends leave some comments.

1- 呢度真係又靚又好味。 (ni1 dou6 zan1 hai6 jau6 leng3 jau6 hou2 mei6.)

His girlfriend, Karen, uses an expression meaning - “It’s really charming and delicious.”
Karen agrees with David that the experience is positive, adding her own take on it.

2- 果然好介紹! (gwo2 jin4 hou2 gaai3 siu6!)

His college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “A very good recommendation indeed!”
Will is pleased with David’s recommendation.

3- 做乜唔叫埋我 (ಠ_ಠ) (zou6 mat1 m4 giu3 maai4 ngo5)

His girlfriend’s high school friend, Maggie, uses an expression meaning - “Why didn’t you invite me? (ಠ_ಠ)”
Maggie is disappointed that she’s not part of the group.

4- 好似好貴喎。 (hou2 ci3 hou2 gwai3 wo3.)

His girlfriend’s nephew, Tommy, uses an expression meaning - “It looks expensive.”
Tommy is the only critic, and he shares his impression of the restaurant with this comment.

VOCABULARY

Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 餐廳 (caan1 teng1): “restaurant”
  • 好味 (hou2 mei6): “delicious”
  • 果然 (gwo2 jin4): “as expected; sure enough; indeed”
  • 介紹 (gaai3 siu6): “introduction”
  • 叫埋 (giu3 maai4): “also ask along”
  • 好似 (hou2 ci3): “appear to be; be like; look like”
  • 貴 (gwai3): “expensive”
  • So, let’s practice a bit. If a friend posted something about having dinner with friends, which phrase would you use?

    Now go visit a Cantonese restaurant, and wow the staff with your language skills!

    2. Post about Your Mall Visit in Cantonese

    Another super topic for social media is shopping—everybody does it, most everybody loves it, and your friends on social media are probably curious about your shopping spree! Share these Cantonese phrases in posts when you visit a mall.

    Karen shops with her sister at the mall, posts an image of the two of them together, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Karen’s post.

    周圍都減緊價,我同細妹都大出血! (zau1 wai4 dou1 gaam2 gan2 gaa3, ngo5 tung4 sai3 mui2 dou1 daai6 ceot1 hyut3!)
    “Everywhere is on sale. Sis and I spent A LOT!”

    1- 周圍都減緊價, (zau1 wai4 dou1 gaam2 gan2 gaa3,)

    First is an expression meaning “everywhere is on sale.”
    Many shops promote their sales campaigns via social media, and at the same time, consumers would tell their friends or followers via social media about the good deals they found.

    2- 我同細妹都大出血! (ngo5 tung4 sai3 mui2 dou1 daai6 ceot1 hyut3!)

    Then comes the phrase - “I and sister spent a lot!”
    literally 大出血 (daai6 ceot1 hyut3) means “to bleed badly”, but nowadays we use this term to refer to “having spent a lot of money.”

    COMMENTS

    In response, Karen’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 我琴日都買到癲咗! (ngo5 kam4 jat6 dou1 maai5 dou3 din1 zo2!)

    Her high school friend, Maggie, uses an expression meaning - “I shopped like crazy yesterday as well!”
    Maggie shares a personal detail here, finding common ground with Karen’s post.

    2- 你同細妹好似樣喎。 (nei5 tung4 sai3 mui2 hou2 ci5 joeng2 wo3.)

    Her boyfriend’s high school friend, Kitty, uses an expression meaning - “You and your sister look alike.”
    Kitty comments on the two sisters’ looks.

    3- 係?等我都去睇吓。 (hai6? dang2 ngo5 dou1 heoi3 tai2 haa2.)

    Her neighbor, Lisa, uses an expression meaning - “Really? I’ll go check it out too.”
    Lisa is pleased with the news about the sales and wants to experience it too.

    4- 囧… (gwing2̷ ;)

    Her boyfriend, David, uses an expression meaning - “Yikes…”
    David leaves an eloquent one-word comment that speaks volumes! He probably doesn’t like shopping in malls, or he’s not crazy about the girls’ massive spending. This comment is open for interpretation.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 周圍 (zau1 wai4): “everywhere”
  • 減價 (gaam2 gaa3): “sale; price reduction”
  • 細妹 (sai3 mui2): “younger sister”
  • 琴日 (kam4 jat6): “yesterday”
  • 癲 (din1): “crazy”
  • 似樣 (ci5 joeng2): “look alike; resemble”
  • 囧 (gwing2): “an ideographic emoticon representing feelings such as annoyance, shock, embarrassment, awkwardness, etc.”
  • So, if a friend posted something about going shopping, which phrase would you use?

    3. Talking about a Sport Day in Cantonese

    Sports events, whether you’re the spectator or the sports person, offer fantastic opportunity for great social media posts. Learn some handy phrases and vocabulary to start a sport-on-the-beach conversation in Cantonese.

    David plays with his friends at the beach, posts an image of the crowd on the beach, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down David’s post.

    天氣咁好又咁齊人,今次嘅沙灘聚會真係好成功! (tin1 hei3 gam3 hou2 jau6 gam3 cai4 jan4, gam1 ci3 ge3 saa1 taan1 zeoi6 wui6 zan1 hai6 hou2 sing4 gung1!)
    “With good weather and full attendance, this beach gathering is really successful!”

    1- 天氣咁好又咁齊人 (tin1 hei3 gam3 hou2 jau6 gam3 cai4 jan4,)

    First is an expression meaning “weather is good and we have all people attending,”
    咁…又… (gam3… jau6̷ ;) is a common sentence pattern used to describe two qualities about one subject. It’s similar to “not only… but also…”, or “… and…”.

    2- 今次嘅沙灘聚會真係好成功! (gam1 ci3 ge3 saa1 taan1 zeoi6 wui6 zan1 hai6 hou2 sing4 gung1!)

    Then comes the phrase - “this time beach gathering is really successful!”
    Hong Kong has a long coastline with many public and private bays and beaches; however, more and more of them are not suitable for swimming anymore because of poor water quality due to development and urbanization. A total of 41 beaches, about half of the ones suitable for swimming, are managed by the government.

    COMMENTS

    In response, David’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 趁冬天之前搞多次啦。 (can3 dung1 tin1 zi1 cin4 gaau2 do1 ci3 laa1.)

    His college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “Let’s do it again before winter starts.”
    Will seems pleased with David’s post and suggests that they play on the beach again.

    2- 年青人,真係開心,Enjoy! (nin4 cing1 jan4, zan1 hai6 hoi1 sam1, ENJOY!)

    His supervisor, Sam, uses an expression meaning - “All the young people look so happy, enjoy!”
    The young crowd’s happiness on the beach catches Sam’s attention.

    3- 邊個贏呀? (bin1 go3 jeng4 aa3?)

    His girlfriend, Karen, uses an expression meaning - “Who won?”
    Karen is interested in the outcome of the game, and asks for more details.

    4- 咁熱,我寧願喺屋企打機。 (gam3 jit6, ngo5 ning4 jyun2 hai2 uk1 kei2 daa2 gei1.)

    His girlfriend’s nephew, Tommy, uses an expression meaning - “It’s so hot. I’d rather stay home and play video games.”
    Tommy is clearly not an outdoor type of guy! He’s again the negative commentator.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 天氣 (tin1 hei3): “weather”
  • 沙灘 (saa1 taan1): “beach”
  • 成功 (sing4 gung1): “successful”
  • 冬天 (dung1 tin1): “winter”
  • 贏 (jeng4): “winter”
  • 寧願 (ning4 jyun2): “would rather”
  • 打機 (daa2 gei1): “play video games”
  • Which phrase would you use if a friend posted something about sports?

    But sport is not the only thing you can play! Play some music, and share it on social media.

    4. Share a Song on Social Media in Cantonese

    Music is the language of the soul, they say. So, don’t hold back—share what touches your soul with your friends!

    Karen shares a song she just heard at a party, posts an image of the artist, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Karen’s post.

    誠意推介E神新歌,好好聽! (sing4 ji3 teoi1 gaai3 E san4 san1 go1, hou2 hou2 teng1!)
    “Highly recommend Eason’s new song. It’s so good!”

    1- 誠意推介E神新歌, (sing4 ji3 teoi1 gaai3 E san4 san1 go1,)

    First is an expression meaning “Sincerely recommend Eason’s new song.”
    The phrase 誠意推介 (sing4 ji3 teoi1 gaai3), literally “sincerely recommending”, is used a lot in social media to share something you think people would like.

    2- 好好聽! (hou2 hou2 teng1!)

    Then comes the phrase - “It’s really good!”
    The duplication of 好 (hou2) in this phrase serves an exaggeration purpose, it only works when it’s followed by a verb. For example, 好食 (hou2 sik6), literally “good to eat”, is “yummy”; and 好好食 (hou2 hou2 sik6) means “very yummy”.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Karen’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 都唔知原來你鍾意E神。 (dou1 m4 zi1 jyun4 loi4 nei5 zung1 ji3 E san4.)

    Her high school friend, Maggie, uses an expression meaning - “Didn’t know you like Eason.”
    Maggie is learning something new about her friend today! Use this comment to make conversation.

    2- Agree! 我都買咗佢隻新碟。 (AGREE! ngo5 dou1 maai5 zo2 keoi5 zek3 san1 dip2.)

    Her boyfriend’s high school friend, Kitty, uses an expression meaning - “Agree! I also bought his new album.”
    Kitty shares Karen’s love of the blues singer! So, use this to show your agreement.

    3- 將首舊歌重新演繹,又幾好聽喎。 (zoeng1 sau2 gau6 go1 cung4 san1 jin2 jik6, jau6 gei1 hou2 teng1 wo3.)

    Her neighbor, Lisa, uses an expression meaning - “He’s covering an old song. It’s pretty good.”
    LIsa seems to know her music and shares an interesting bit of information about the singer, as well as her opinion.

    4- 我後生嗰陣都係聽呢首歌。 (ngo5 hau6 saang1 go2 zan6 dou1 hai6 teng1 ni1 sau2 go1.)

    Her supervisor, Sam, uses an expression meaning - “I used to listen to this song back in my day.”
    Sam is taken back to his younger years by the song and shares a memory.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 誠意 (sing4 ji3): “sincerity”
  • 推介 (teoi1 gaai3): “recommend”
  • 歌 (go1): “song”
  • 碟 (dip2): “music record; CD; plate”
  • 重新 (cung4 san1): “once more; again”
  • 演繹 (jin2 jik6): “perform”
  • 後生 (hau6 saang1): “young”
  • Which song would you share? And what would you say to a friend who posted something about sharing music or videos?

    Now you know how to start a conversation about a song or a video on social media!

    5. Cantonese Social Media Comments about a Concert

    Still on the theme of music—visiting live concerts and shows just have to be shared with your friends. Here are some handy phrases and vocab to wow your followers in Cantonese!

    David goes to a concert, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down David’s post.

    一世人至少都要睇一次麥當娜演唱會。超讚! (jat1 sai3 jan4 zi3 siu2 dou1 jiu3 tai2 jat1 ci3 maak6 dong1 naa4 jin2 coeng3 wui5. ciu1 zaan3!)
    “You have to go to Madonna’s concert at least once in your lifetime. It’s awesome!”

    1- 一世人至少都要睇一次麥當娜演唱會。 (jat1 sai3 jan4 zi3 siu2 dou1 jiu3 tai2 jat1 ci3 maak6 dong1 naa4 jin2 coeng3 wui5.)

    First is an expression meaning “In one life, at least watch Madonna concert once.”
    Many local and international singers perform live concerts in Hong Kong. AsiaWorld-Expo, Hong Kong Coliseum and Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre are the most popular concert venues.

    2- 超讚!
    (ciu1 zaan3!)

    Then comes the phrase - “Super thumbs up!”
    This term actually originated in Taiwan, and became widely used in social media and magazine in Hong Kong.

    COMMENTS

    In response, David’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 現場氣氛好High呀! (jin6 coeng4 hei3 fan1 hou2 HIGH aa3!)

    His college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “The atmosphere is ecstatic!”
    Will is obviously also at the concert, and shares his impression.

    2- 你個位好前喎!你就好啦,我坐山頂呀。 (nei5 go3 wai2 hou2 cin4 wo3! nei5 zau6 hou2 laa1, ngo5 co5 saan1 deng2 aa3.)

    His girlfriend’s high school friend, Maggie, uses an expression meaning - “You’re sitting in the front, that’s so good! I’m sitting way up in the back.”
    Like the previous poster, Maggie also chats about her experiences of the same event, making for great conversation.

    3- 嗌到喉嚨痛,但真係好正! (aai3 dou3 hau4 lung4 tung3, daan6 zan1 hai6 hou2 zeng3!)

    His girlfriend, Karen, uses an expression meaning - “Got a sore throat from shouting (out the lyrics), but it was fabulous!”
    Karen adds her opinion of the concert and shares personal news..

    4- 搞到我都心郁郁想去睇! (gaau2 dou3 ngo5 dou1 sam1 juk1 juk1 soeng2 heoi3 tai2.)

    His high school friend, Kitty, uses an expression meaning - “You made me want to go see it too!”
    Kitty is inspired by all these comments to also attend a Madonna concert.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 一世人 (jat1 sai3 jan4): “one’s whole life; a lifetime”
  • 至少 (zi3 siu2): “at least”
  • 演唱會 (jin2 coeng3 wui5): “concert”
  • 氣氛 (hei3 fan1): “atmosphere”
  • 嗌 (aai3): “shout; yell; speak loudly”
  • 喉嚨 (hau4 lung4): “throat”
  • 心郁郁 (sam1 juk1 juk1): “tempted; eager to do something”
  • If a friend posted something about a concert , which phrase would you use?

    6. Talking about an Unfortunate Accident in Cantonese

    Oh dear. You broke something by accident. Use these Cantonese phrases to start a thread on social media. Or maybe just to let your friends know why you are not contacting them!

    Karen accidentally breaks her mobile phone, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Karen’s post.

    個電話自殺跳咗落樓梯… 。゚(゚´Д`゚)゚。 (go3 din6 waa2 zi6 saat3 tiu3 zo2 lok6 lau4 tai1̷ ;)
    “My phone committed suicide and jumped down the stairs… ”

    1- 個電話自殺 (go3 din6 waa2 zi6 saat3)

    First is an expression meaning “The phone commited suicide.”
    Sometimes inanimate objects are personified to sound cute on social media.

    2- 跳咗落樓梯… (tiu3 zo2 lok6 lau4 tai1̷ ;)

    Then comes the phrase - “jumped down the stairs…”
    A verb followed by 咗 (zo2) means the action or situation is placed in past time, marking perfective aspect or continuous state. Since Cantonese do not have verb conjugation, we use particles like this to clarify.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Karen’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 阿偉,你識做啦! (David, nei5 sik1 zou6 laa1!)

    Her high school friend, Maggie, uses an expression meaning - “David, you know what to do!”
    Maggie doesn’t address Karen, but chats with David, knowing he’d be reading the post too. This is a clever way of keeping the conversation going.

    2- Maggie,就算你唔講我都會買返部俾佢啦。 (Maggie, zau6 syun3 nei5 m4 gong2 ngo5 dou1 wui2 maai5 faan1 bou6 bei2 keoi5 laa1.)

    Her boyfriend, David, uses an expression meaning - “Maggie, I’d buy her a new one even if you didn’t say so.”
    David is being an awesome boyfriend! He clearly shows his caring consideration with this comment.

    3- 係時候換部新嘅。 (hai6 si4 hau6 wun6 bou6 san1 ge3.)

    Her boyfriend’s high school friend, Kitty, uses an expression meaning - “It’s time to get a new one.”
    Kitty states the obvious, just to participate in the conversation.

    4- 啱啱出新款,跌得係時候。 (aam1 aam1 ceot1 san1 fun2, dit3 dak1 hai6 si4 hau6.)

    Her college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “New models just came out. What good timing.”
    Will is an optimist and sees this accident as a good opportunity to upgrade to a newer phone.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 電話 (din6 waa2): “phone”
  • 自殺 (zi6 saat3): “commit suicide”
  • 樓梯 (lau4 tai1): “stairs”
  • 就算 (zau6 syun3): “even if; given that”
  • 換 (wun6): “change”
  • 啱啱 (aam1 aam1): “just now”
  • 新款 (san1 fun2): “new model; new style”
  • If a friend posted something about having broken something by accident, which phrase would you use?

    So, now you know how to describe an accident in Cantonese. Well done!

    7. Chat about Your Boredom on Social Media in Cantonese

    Sometimes, we’re just bored with how life goes. And to alleviate the boredom, we write about it on social media. Add some excitement to your posts by addressing your friends and followers in Cantonese!

    David gets bored at home, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down David’s post.

    原來放假冇嘢做都幾悶。 (jyun4 loi4 fong3 gaa3 mou5 je5 zou6 dou1 gei2 mun6.)
    “Didn’t realize it’d be so boring to have nothing to do on holiday.”

    1- 原來 (jyun4 loi4)

    First is an expression meaning “Turns out.”
    This term 原來 (jyun4 loi4) indicates that the following statement is a newly found idea that was unknown to the person before.

    2- 放假冇嘢做都幾悶。 (fong3 gaa3 mou5 je5 zou6 dou1 gei2 mun6.)

    Then comes the phrase - “having nothing to do on holiday is quite boring.”
    This is not common in Hong Kong. According to the 2015 Survey on Hong Kong consumer travel spending patterns, its citizens spend around 70% of their holidays traveling abroad. The most popular destinations are Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Taiwan.

    COMMENTS

    In response, David’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 悶?又話要執屋? (mun6? jau6 waa6 jiu3 zap1 uk1?)

    His girlfriend, Karen, uses an expression meaning - “Boring? You told me you were gonna clean up the house!”
    Karen partakes in the conversation - is she serious here? Or perhaps teasing her boyfriend? Hard to tell!

    2- 啊!阿偉,你死喇! (o3! aa3 wai5, nei5 sei2 laa3!)

    His girlfriend’s high school friend, Maggie, uses an expression meaning - “Uh-oh! David, you’re in trouble!”
    Maggie becomes part of Karen and David’s conversation, leaving a lighthearted comment.

    3- 下個禮拜會好忙,你而家有得唞好唞吓。 (haa6 go3 lai5 baai3 wui5 hou2 mong4, nei5 ji4 gaa1 jau5 dak1 tau2 hou2 tau2 haa5.)

    His supervisor, Sam, uses an expression meaning - “It’s gonna be hectic next week. You better rest up while you can.”
    Sam is the responsible adult and warns David to rest before returning to work.

    4- 你可以過嚟幫我執屋。 (nei5 ho2 ji3 gwo3 lei4 bong1 ngo5 zap1 uk1.)

    His college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “You can come clean up my house.”
    Will sees an opportunity in the banter Karen started. He is probably joking!

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 放假 (fong3 gaa3): “be on holiday”
  • 悶 (mun6): “boring”
  • 執屋 (zap1 uk1): “clean up the house”
  • 陪 (pui4): “accompany; keep someone company”
  • 禮拜 (lai5 baai3): “week”
  • 唞 (tau2): “rest; catch one’s breath”
  • 過嚟 (gwo3 lei4): “come over”
  • If a friend posted something about being bored, which phrase would you use?

    Still bored? Share another feeling and see if you can start a conversation!

    8. Exhausted? Share It on Social Media in Cantonese

    So, you’re sitting in public transport after work, and feel like chatting online. Well, converse in Cantonese about how you feel, and let your friends join in!

    Karen feels exhausted after a long day at work, posts an image of herself looking tired, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Karen’s post.

    典解啲嘢做極都做唔完,攰死人咩! (din2 gaai2 di1 je5 zou6 gik6 dou1 zou6 m4 jyun4, gui6 sei2 jan4 me1!)
    “Why are there so many things to do at work? I’m dead tired.”

    1- 典解啲嘢做極都做唔完, (din2 gaai2 di1 je5 zou6 gik6 dou1 zou6 m4 jyun4,)

    First is an expression meaning “Why are the tasks endless.”
    典解 (din2 gaai2) is the playful version of 點解 (dim2 gaai2) “why” used by Hong Kong girls on social media.

    2- 攰死人咩! (gui6 sei2 jan4 me1!)

    Then comes the phrase - “tired to death!”
    The pattern Adjective+死人 (lit. “dead people̶ ;) is a common way to make the adjective more extreme and stronger.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Karen’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 永遠十卜你! (wing5 jyun5 sap6 buk1 nei5!)

    Her high school friend, Maggie, uses an expression meaning - “Support you forever!”
    Maggie seems to show her commitment to their friendship with this comment - she clearly feels for Karen!

    2- 加油!好快又放假㗎喇! (gaa1 jau2! hou2 faai3 jau6 fong3 gaa3 gaa3 laa3!)

    Her boyfriend’s high school friend, Kitty, uses an expression meaning - “Hang in there! The holidays will be here again soon!”
    Kitty tries to inject Karen with some optimism about the holidays ahead.

    3- 我煲咗啲湯俾你,好好補吓。 (ngo5 bou1 zo2 di1 tong1 bei2 nei5, hou2 hou2 bou2 haa5.)

    Her neighbor, Lisa, uses an expression meaning - “I made you some soup. It‘ll help restore your energy.”
    Lisa is being an awesome neighbour! She shows caring and consideration with this comment.

    4- 做大人真係辛苦。 (zou6 daai6 jan4 zan1 hai6 san1 fu2.)

    Her nephew, Tommy, uses an expression meaning - “It’s so tough being an adult.”
    Tommy imparts an uncommonly mature observation with this comment.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 攰 (gui6): “tired”
  • 永遠 (wing5 jyun5): “forever”
  • 十卜 (sap6 buk1): “support (slang)”
  • 加油 (gaa1 jau2): “hang in there”
  • 煲 (bou1): “cook; stew; boil”
  • 補 (bou2): “replenish; restore”
  • 大人 (daai6 jan4): “adult”
  • If a friend posted something about being exhausted, which phrase would you use?

    Now you know how to discuss exhaustion in Cantonese! Well done.

    9. Talking about an Injury in Cantonese

    So life happens, and you manage to hurt yourself during a soccer game. Very Tweet-worthy! Here’s how to do it in Cantonese.

    David suffers a painful injury during a soccer game, posts an image of him holding his knee, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down David’s post.

    又整親,膝頭哥痛到不得了。 (jau6 zing2 can1, sat1 tau4 go1 tung3 dou3 bat1 dak1 liu5.)
    “I got hurt again. My knees are in pain.”

    1- 又整親, (jau6 zing2 can1,)

    First is an expression meaning “hurt again,”
    親 (can1) is often found following a verb to mean an action that’s unintentional done to someone’s body and causes injury. For examples, 跌親 (dit3 can1) “fall”; 仆親 (puk1 can1) “trip and fall”; 跣親 (sin3 can1) “slip and fall”; 淥親 (luk6 can1) “get burnt by hot water”; 凍親 (dung3 can1) “catch a cold”.

    2- 膝頭哥痛到不得了。 (sat1 tau4 go1 tung3 dou3 bat1 dak1 liu5.)

    Then comes the phrase - “knees are so painful.”
    Other than 膝頭哥 (sat1 tau4 go1), another colloquial term for “kneecap” or “patella” is 菠蘿蓋 (bo1 lo4 goi3), which literally means “pineapple lid”.

    COMMENTS

    In response, David’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 真係唔認老都唔得。 (zan1 hai6 m4 jing6 lou5 dou1 m4 dak1.)

    His college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “We really have to admit that we’ve aged.”
    Will makes a sober observation about their age.

    2- 睇咗醫生未? (tai2 zo2 ji1 sang1 mei6?)

    His neighbor, Lisa, uses an expression meaning - “Have you gone to the doctor yet?”
    Lisa expresses concern and caring with this question, and she would also like more information.

    3- 早日康復。 (zou2 jat6 hong1 fuk6.)

    His supervisor, Sam, uses an expression meaning - “Get well soon.”
    Sam uses a common phrase to wish David well after the injury.

    4- 有個幾好嘅物理治療師,幾時得閒?我帶你去。 (jau5 go3 gei2 hou2 ge3 mat6 lei5 zi6 liu4 si1, gei2 si4 dak1 haan4? ngo5 daai3 nei5 heoi3.)

    His high school friend, Kitty, uses an expression meaning - “There’s a pretty good physiotherapist nearby. When will you be free? I’ll take you there.”
    Kitty shows her caring and concern in a different way, by offering to help David.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 整親 (zing2 can1): “injure; get hurt”
  • 膝頭哥 (sat1 tau4 go1): “kneecap; knee”
  • 不得了 (bat1 dak1 liu5): “extremely; disastrous”
  • 醫生 (ji1 sang1): “doctor”
  • 康復 (hong1 fuk6): “recover”
  • 物理治療師 (mat6 lei5 zi6 liu4 si1): “physiotherapist”
  • 得閒 (dak1 haan4): “have free time”
  • If a friend posted something about being injured, which phrase would you use?

    We love to share our fortunes and misfortunes; somehow that makes us feel connected to others.

    10. Starting a Conversation Feeling Disappointed in Cantonese

    Sometimes things don’t go the way we planned. Share your disappointment about this with your friends!

    Karen feels disappointed about today’s weather, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Karen’s post.

    又熱又潮濕,好辛苦!幾時先到秋天? (jau6 jit6 jau6 ciu4 sap1, hou2 san1 fu2! gei2 si4 sin1 dou3 cau1 tin1?)
    “I’m so sick of the hot and humid weather! When will autumn arrive?”

    1- 又熱又潮濕,好辛苦! (jau6 jit6 jau6 ciu4 sap1, hou2 san1 fu2!)

    First is an expression meaning “hot and humid, so tough!”
    Weather in Hong Kong is hot and humid from May to September. Temperatures can rise as high as 95°F (35°C), and humidity levels can make it feel even hotter than it is.

    2- 幾時先到秋天? (gei2 si4 sin1 dou3 cau1 tin1?)

    Then comes the phrase - “When will autumn arrive?”
    The mild autumns have been becoming shorter than normal in the last few years (said to be due to global warming). Generally speaking, October and November are the autumn months in Hong Kong, it’s also the best season to visit.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Karen’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 我日日都開行冷氣。 (ngo5 jat6 jat6 dou1 hoi1 hang4 laang5 hei3.)

    Her high school friend, Maggie, uses an expression meaning - “I turn on the air-conditioner every day.”
    Maggie shows that she is agreeing with Karen’s post about the weather by sharing a personal experience.

    2- 小心喺冷氣房一出一入好易凍親。 (siu2 sam1 hai2 laang5 hei3 fong2 jat1 ceot1 jat1 jap6 hou2 ji6 dung3 can1.)

    Her neighbor, Lisa, uses an expression meaning - “Be careful. It’s easy to catch a cold when you go in and out of AC rooms.”
    Lisa is clearly a very caring person. She expresses concern for Karen’s health, because moving between abrupt temperature changes can challenge the immune system. “AC” stands for “air conditioned”.

    3- 我哋要著西裝咪仲熱。 (ngo5 dei6 jiu3 zoek3 sai1 zong1 mei6 zung6 jit6.)

    Her supervisor, Sam, uses an expression meaning - “It’s even worse for us who have to wear suits.”
    Sam also empathises with Karen’s predicament, but he points out that he has it even worse!

    4- 新聞話香港仲熱過非洲呀! (san1 man2 waa6 hoeng1 gong2 zung6 jit6 gwo3 fei1 zau1 aa3!)

    Her college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “The news said Hong Kong is even hotter than Africa!”
    Will shares an interesting fact just to partake in the conversation.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 熱 (jit6): “hot; heat”
  • 潮濕 (ciu4 sap1): “humid; damp”
  • 秋天 (cau1 tin1): “autumn”
  • 冷氣 (laang5 hei3): “air-conditioning”
  • 凍親 (dung3 can1): “catch cold”
  • 西裝 (sai1 zong1): “suit”
  • 非洲 (fei1 zau1): “Africa”
  • How would you comment in Cantonese when a friend is disappointed?

    Not all posts need to be about a negative feeling, though!

    11. Talking about Your Relationship Status in Cantonese

    Don’t just change your relationship status in Settings, talk about it!

    David changes his status to “In a relationship”, posts an image of him and Karen, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down David’s post.

    戀愛ing (lyun2 oi3 ING)
    “I’m in love!”

    1- 戀愛 (lyun2 oi3)

    First is an expression meaning “In love.”
    For teenagers, a relationship is only considered official when someone announces it on social media. And when the relationship gets serious, some couples even exchange passwords to their social media accounts.

    2- ing (ING)

    Then comes the phrase - “indication of present progressive tense.”
    The use of “ing” following Cantonese is similar to how it was used in the present progressive tense in English verbs, which serves to indicate that the action is happening right now.

    COMMENTS

    In response, David’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 叻仔! (lek1 zai2!)

    His college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “Smart boy!”
    Will is clearly supportive of David’s choice of girlfriends.

    2- 對佢好D呀。 (deoi3 keoi5 hou2 di1 aa3.)

    His girlfriend’s high school friend, Maggie, uses an expression meaning - “Treat her well.”
    David gets some advice from Karen’s friend, who seems to be protective of Karen!

    3- 聽到呢個好消息真係好開心。 (teng1 dou2 ni1 go3 hou2 siu1 sik1 zan1 hai6 hou2 hoi1 sam1.)

    His high school friend, Kitty, uses an expression meaning - “I’m so happy to hear this good news.”
    Kitty is clearly pleased with the announcement and says so!

    4- 乜你都有人要? (mat1 nei5 dou1 jau5 jan4 jiu3?)

    His girlfriend’s nephew, Tommy, uses an expression meaning - “Even you can get a girlfriend?”
    Tommy is being playful and teases David with this comment.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 戀愛 (lyun2 oi3): “love; in love”
  • 叻 (lek1): “clever; smart”
  • 對 (deoi3): “to; towards”
  • 好D (hou2 di1): “better; well [same as 好啲 (hou2 di1)]”
  • 聽 (teng1): “listen; hear”
  • 消息 (siu1 sik1): “news; information”
  • 要 (jiu3): “want; demand”
  • What would you say in Cantonese when a friend changes their relationship status?

    Being in a good relationship with someone special is good news - don’t be shy to spread it!

    12. Post about Getting Married in Cantonese

    Wow, so things got serious, and you’re getting married. Congratulations! Or, your friend is getting married, so talk about this in Cantonese.

    Karen is getting married today, so she leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Karen’s post.

    準備咗成年,今日我哋終於結婚喇! (zeon2 bei6 zo2 seng4 nin4, gam1 jat6 ngo5 dei6 zung1 jyu1 git3 fan1 laa3!)
    “After a year-long preparation, we’re finally getting married today!”

    1- 準備咗成年, (zeon2 bei6 zo2 seng4 nin4,)

    First is an expression meaning “After the year-long preparation”.
    In Hong Kong, it’s common to start the planning and preparation for more than a year before the wedding day. If the wedding takes place at a popular wedding venue, or on a lucky date, it has to be reserved two to three years in advance.

    2- 今日我哋終於結婚喇! (gam1 jat6 ngo5 dei6 zung1 jyu1 git3 fan1 laa3!)

    Then comes the phrase - “we’re finally getting married today!”
    Weddings in Hong Kong are generally big, with 250 to 400 guests. Guests give cash gifts upon arrival. After the ceremony, everyone enjoys a banquet meal, which usually last for three to four hours.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Karen’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 祝你哋白頭到老,永結同心。 (zuk1 nei5 dei6 baak6 tau4 dou3 lou5, wing5 git3 tung4 sam1.)

    Her neighbor, Lisa, uses an expression meaning - “May you enjoy every happiness and success during your long life together.”
    Lisa leaves a really great, warmhearted wish on Karen’s feed.

    2- 睇住個好姊妹出嫁,好感動! (tai2 zyu6 go3 hou2 zi2 mui2 ceot1 gaa3, hou2 gam2 dung6!)

    Her high school friend, Maggie, uses an expression meaning - “It’s so touching to watch my good friend get married.”
    Maggie is clearly affected by this announcement, in a good way. She shares her feelings and shows her caring for her friend.

    3- 恭喜晒!祝你哋幸福! (gung1 hei2 saai3! zuk1 nei5 dei6 hang6 fuk1!)

    Her husband’s high school friend, Kitty, uses an expression meaning - “Congratulations! I wish you happiness!”
    This is a simple but great comment to congratulate the couple and wish them well.

    4- 你真係好幸運,可以嫁俾阿偉。 (nei5 zan1 hai6 hou2 hang6 wan6, ho2 ji3
    gaa3 bei2 aa3 wai5.)

    Her college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “You’re so lucky to be married to David.”
    Will is showing loyalty to his friend David, and clearly has a high opinion of him.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 準備 (zeon2 bei6): “prepare”
  • 結婚 (git3 fan1): “marry”
  • 白頭到老 (baak6 tau4 dou3 lou5): “grow old together”
  • 永結同心 (wing5 git3 tung4 sam1): “a couple’s hearts to be intertwined in eternity”
  • 感動 (gam2 dung6): “touching; moving”
  • 幸福 (hang6 fuk1): “happy; blissful”
  • 幸運 (hang6 wan6): “lucky; good fortune”
  • How would you respond in Cantonese to a friend’s post about getting married?

    For the next topic, fast forward about a year into the future after the marriage…

    13. Announcing Big News in Cantonese

    Wow, huge stuff is happening in your life! Announce it in Cantonese.

    David finds out he and Karen are going to have a baby, posts an image of the two of them together, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down David’s post.

    我哋個家庭即將有新成員! (ngo5 dei6 go3 gaa1 ting4 zik1 zoeng1 jau5 san1 sing4 jyun4!)
    “Our family is getting a new member!”

    1- 我哋個家庭 (ngo5 dei6 go3 gaa1 ting4)

    First is an expression meaning “Our family”.
    Possessive pronoun is not used in this phrase, instead the classifier of “family”, 個 (go3), takes its place. Note that different nouns use different classifiers.

    2- 即將有新成員! (zik1 zoeng1 jau5 san1 sing4 jyun4!)

    Then comes the phrase - “is getting a new member!”
    Many Hong Kong celebrities announce the birth of their children via social network. Unlike the western entertainment industry, it’s very rare for HK celebrities to do interviews or sell photos exclusively to a single publication.

    COMMENTS

    In response, David’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 真係?天大喜訊呀! (zan1 hai6? tin1 daai6 hei2 seon3 aa3!)

    His neighbor, Lisa, uses an expression meaning - “For real? That’s wonderful news!”
    Caring Lisa is delighted with this news.

    2- 恭喜添丁! (gung1 hei2 tim1 ding1!)

    His supervisor, Sam, uses an expression meaning - “Congratulations with the new baby!”
    This is a traditional, commonly-used phrase to congratulate the expecting parents.

    3- 又多個BB俾我玩!Yeah! (jau6 do1 go3 bi4 bi1 bei2 ngo5 waan2. YEAH!)

    His high school friend, Kitty, uses an expression meaning - “Another baby to play with. Yay!”
    Kitty obviously likes playing with babies!

    4- 知道仔定女未呀? (zi1 dou3 zai2 ding6 neoi5 mei6 aa3?)

    His college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “Do you know if it’s a boy or girl yet?”
    Will wants to be part of the conversation, so he asks a question to get more details.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 家庭 (gaa1 ting4): “family”
  • 新成員 (san1 sing4 jyun4): “new member”
  • 喜訊 (hei2 seon3): “good news”
  • 恭喜 (gung1 hei2): “Congratulation”
  • 添丁 (tim1 ding1): “have a baby born into the family”
  • 知道 (zi1 dou3): “know”
  • 定 (ding6): “or”
  • Which phrase would you choose when a friend announces their pregnancy on social media?

    So, talking about a pregnancy will get you a lot of traction on social media. But wait till you see the responses to babies!

    14. Posting Cantonese Comments about Your Baby

    Your bundle of joy is here, and you cannot keep quiet about it! Share your thoughts in Cantonese.

    Karen plays with her baby, posts an image of the cutiepie, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Karen’s post.

    令到我每晚都冇覺好瞓嘅天使。 (ling6 dou3 ngo5 mui5 maan5 dou1 mou5 gaau3 hou2 fan3 ge3 tin1 si2.)
    “The angel who wakes me up every night.”

    1- 令到我每晚都冇覺好瞓 (ling6 dou3 ngo5 mui5 maan5 dou1 mou5 gaau3 hou2 fan3)

    First is an expression meaning “wakes me up every night.”
    Paid maternity leave in Hong Kong is 10 weeks long. And since March 2015, male employees are entitled to three days’ paternity leave at 80% of their average daily wages.

    2- 嘅天使。 (ge3 tin1 si2.)

    Then comes the phrase - “this angel.”
    In Chinese culture, new mothers have to do a “one-month postpartum home confinement” as recuperation. Many Hong Kong families hire a maternity helper to take care of the newborn and cook nutritious food for the new mother, as well as teaching her how to take care of the baby during this month.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Karen’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 老婆,辛苦晒!感謝你將我哋嘅BB帶嚟呢個世界。 (lou5 po4, san1 fu2 saai3! gam2 ze6 nei5 zoeng1 ngo5 dei6 ge3 bi4 bi1 daai3 lei4 ni1 go3 sai3 gaai3.)

    Her husband, David, uses an expression meaning - “Honey, thank you for your hard work! Thank you for bringing our baby into this world.”
    David is being an appreciative, considerate husband!

    2- BB好似你!靚女! (BB hou2 ci5 nei5! leng3 neoi5!)

    Her high school friend, Maggie, uses an expression meaning - “The baby looks like you! Pretty girl!”
    Maggie thinks the baby takes after Karen, and is obviously happy about this.

    3- 好彩唔似爸爸。 (hou2 coi2 m4 ci5 baa4 baa1.)

    Her college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “Good that she doesn’t look like her father.”
    Will makes fun of his friends with this comment.

    4- 有需要即管出聲,我即刻過嚟幫手。 (jau5 seoi1 jiu3 zik1 gun2 ceot1 seng1, ngo5 zik1 haak1 gwo3 lei4 bong1 sau2.)

    Her neighbor, Lisa, uses an expression meaning - “Let me know if you need any help, I can come over immediately.”
    Trust Lisa to offer help! Her comment shows care and consideration for the new parents’ needs.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 天使 (tin1 si2): “angel”
  • 感謝 (gam2 ze6): “grateful; thankful”
  • 世界 (sai3 gaai3): “world”
  • 似 (ci5): “look like; resemble”
  • 靚女 (leng3 neoi5): “pretty girl; beautiful girl”
  • 好彩 (hou2 coi2): “luckily; fortunately”
  • 出聲 (ceot1 seng1): “speak up; speak out”
  • If your friend is the mother or father, which phrase would you use on social media?

    Congratulations, you know the basics of chatting about a baby in Cantonese! But we’re not done with families yet…

    15. Cantonese Comments about a Family Reunion

    Family reunions - some you love, some you hate. Share about it on your feed.

    David goes to a family gathering, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down David’s post.

    最緊要一家人齊齊整整。 (zeoi3 gan2 jiu3 jat1 gaa1 jan4
    cai4 cai4 zing2 zing2.)

    “The most important (thing in life) is to have the whole family healthy, together, and peaceful.”

    1- 最緊要 (zeoi3 gan2 jiu3)

    First is an expression meaning “the most important”.
    In Cantonese, 最 (zeoi) “the most” can be followed by an adjective, a noun, or an adverb. In this case, the noun automatically becomes an adjective or adverb. For example, 最MAN means “the most manly (person)”.)

    2- 一家人齊齊整整。 (jat1 gaa1 jan4
    cai4 cai4 zing2 zing2.)

    Then comes the phrase - “whole family be healthy and together.”
    齊齊整整 (cai4 cai4 zing2 zing2) means “neat and tidy” normally, but when used to describe a family or a group of people, it means that everyone is healthy, harmonious, and intimate.

    COMMENTS

    In response, David’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 唔該唔好tag我。 (m4 goi1 m4 hou2 TAG ngo5.)

    His nephew, Tommy, uses an expression meaning - “Please don’t tag me (in this photo).”
    Obviously Tommy is still young, and hopes to make an impression with negative comments!

    2-

    His supervisor, Sam, uses an expression meaning - “Didn’t know you have such a big family, so lively.”
    Sam is making conversation by showing interest in David’s family.

    3- 好多潮童喎,你D姪嚟㗎? (hou2 do1 ciu4 tung4 wo3, nei5 di1 zat6 lei4 gaa4?)

    His college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “There are a lot of hipsters there; are they your nieces and nephews?”
    Sometimes D is used on social media or instant messages instead of 啲 (di1), and it means “some; those” or “a few; a little bit”. In this sentence, it means “those”.
    Will is also keen to know more about David’s family, and he does so in a joking, lighthearted way.

    4- 好耐冇見佢哋,大家睇嚟都好精神! (hou2 noi6 mou5 gin3 keoi5 dei6, daai6 gaa1 tai2 lei4 dou1
    hou2 zing1 san4!)

    His high school friend, Kitty, uses an expression meaning - “Haven’t seen them in a long time; everyone looks great!”
    Kitty is a bit nostalgic, but she compliments the family for looking great!

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 最 (zeoi3): “the most”
  • 一家人 (jat1 gaa1 jan4): “family”
  • 屋企 (uk1 kei2): “home”
  • 熱鬧 (jit6 naau6): “lively; exciting”
  • 潮童 (ciu4 tung4): “hipster; trendy kid”
  • 姪 (zat6): “niece; nephew”
  • 精神 (zing1 san4): “full of vitality; in good spirits”
  • Which phrase is your favorite to comment on a friend’s photo about a family reunion?

    16. Post about Your Travel Plans in Cantonese

    So, the family are going on holiday. Do you know how to post and leave comments in Cantonese about being at the airport, waiting for a flight?

    Karen waits at the airport for her flight, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Karen’s post.

    等上機ing~ (dang2 soeng5 gei1 ING~)
    “Waiting to board the plane~”

    1- 等上機 (dang2 soeng5 gei1)

    First is an expression meaning “wait for plane boarding.”
    Hong Kong International Airport is one of the world’s busiest airports and one of the world’s largest passenger terminal buildings (the largest when it started operating in 1998). It covers an area of 1,255 hectares and handles over 60 million passengers every year.

    2- ing (ING)

    Then comes the phrase - “indication of present progressive tense.”
    The use of “ing” indicates that the action is going on now. Instead of following the verb, here “ing” follows the whole phrase 等上機 (literally “wait to board plane”). It’s a common way on social media to announce what one is doing at the moment.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Karen’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 手信!! (sau2 seon3!!)

    Her college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “Souvenir!!”
    Will doesn’t say much, but obviously he expects to see souvenirs when his friend’s family returns home!

    2- 玩開心D!! (waan2 hoi1 sam1 D!!)

    Her husband’s high school friend, Kitty, uses an expression meaning - “Have fun!”
    This is a short and sweet well wish, suitable for many occasions.

    3- 記得幫我買Mask! (gei3 dak1 bong1 ngo5 maai5 Mask!)

    Her high school friend, Maggie, uses an expression meaning - “Remember to buy masks for me!”
    Perhaps Maggie collects masks, who knows. She clearly wants something too!

    4- 祝旅行愉快! (zuk1 leoi5 hang4 jyu6 faai3!)

    Her neighbor, Lisa, uses an expression meaning - “Have a pleasant trip!”
    Lisa uses the traditional greeting when someone leaves on holiday or a trip.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 等 (dang2): “wait”
  • 上機 (soeng5 gei1): “board the plane”
  • 手信 (sau2 seon3): “souvenir”
  • 玩 (waan2): “play”
  • 記得 (gei3 dak1): “remember”
  • 幫 (bong1): “help”
  • 旅行 (leoi5 hang4): “travel; trip”
  • Choose and memorize your best airport phrase in Cantonese!

    Hopefully the rest of the trip is better!

    17. Posting about an Interesting Find in Cantonese

    So maybe you’re strolling around at your local market, and find something interesting. Here are some handy Cantonese phrases.

    David finds an unusual item at a local market, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down David’s post.

    有冇人估到呢個係乜? (jau5 mou5 jan4 gu2 dou2 ni1 go3 hai6 mat1?)
    “Guess what this is?”

    1- 有冇人估到 (jau5 mou5 jan4 gu2 dou2)

    First is an expression meaning “anyone can guess.”
    Sharing funny novelties or new products is one of the common things to do on social media, it’s the perfect chance to show the world that you’ve already seen something before anyone else has!

    2- 呢個係乜? (ni1 go3 hai6 mat1?)

    Then comes the phrase - “what is this?”
    It’s a simple and short expression to ask what something is. Also, when you want to know what the thing is called in Cantonese, you can point to it and ask the same question.

    COMMENTS

    In response, David’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 去廁所嗰陣用㗎? (heoi3 ci3 so2 go2 zan6 jung6 gaa4?)

    His college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “You use it on the toilet?”
    Use this expression to show you are feeling frivolous.

    2- O嘴… (O zeoi2̷ ;)

    His wife, Karen, uses an expression meaning - “Jaw-dropping…”
    Karen is clearly amazed by David’s find. It must be something truly odd or fantastic.

    3- 估唔到,開估未? (gu2 m4 dou2, hoi1 gu2 mei6?)

    His high school friend, Kitty, uses an expression meaning - “No idea. What’s the answer?”
    Kitty can clearly not answer David’s question, she doesn’t know the identity of the item he found.

    4- 一早喺網上見過啦。 (jat1 zou2 hai2 mong5 soeng6 gin3 gwo3 laa1.)

    His nephew, Tommy, uses an expression meaning - “I’ve seen it online a long time ago.”
    Tommy is, for a change, not making jokes or criticising anything or anyone. He only makes conversation with this comment.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 估 (gu2): “guess”
  • 廁所 (ci3 so2): “toilet; bathroom”
  • 用 (jung6): “use”
  • O嘴 (O zeoi2): “cannot help being shocked and amazed (literally “lips in shape of an O”)”
  • 開估 (hoi1 gu2): “announce the answer”
  • 一早 (jat1 zou2): “earlier on; long time ago; early in the morning”
  • 網上 (mong5 soeng6): “online”
  • Which phrase would you use to comment on a friend’s interesting find?

    Perhaps you will even learn the identity of your find! Or perhaps you’re on holiday, and visiting interesting places…

    18. Post about a Sightseeing Trip in Cantonese

    Let your friends know what you’re up to in Cantonese, especially when visiting a remarkable place! Don’t forget the photo.

    Karen visits a famous landmark, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Karen’s post.

    呢度真係好靚好靚,好想喺度住。 (ni1 dou6 zan1 hai6 hou2 leng3 hou2 leng3, hou2 soeng2 hai2 dou6 zyu6.)
    “It’s really really beautiful here; I want to live here.”

    1- 呢度真係好靚好靚, (ni1 dou6 zan1 hai6 hou2 leng3 hou2 leng3,)

    First is an expression meaning “It’s really really beautiful here”.
    The duplication of the phrase 好靚 (hou2 leng3) in this phrase serves an exaggeration purpose. Unlike the double 好(hou2) pattern mentioned in lesson 4, this execution applies when 好 (hou2) is followed by an adjective.

    2- 好想喺度住。 (hou2 soeng2 hai2 dou6 zyu6.)

    Then comes the phrase - “I want to live here.”
    There have been several mass migration waves in Hong Kong since World War II, most of them triggered by concerns about the political environment and economic conditions.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Karen’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 發夢冇咁早。 (faat3 mung6 mou5 gam3 zou2.)

    Her college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “It’s too early to be dreaming.”
    Will seems to not be in favor of Karen’s wish to stay in this beautiful place!

    2- 影多D相俾我哋睇! (jing2 do1 di1 soeng2 bei2 ngo5 dei6 tai2!)

    Her husband’s high school friend, Kitty, uses an expression meaning - “Take more pictures and show us!”
    Kitty is curious and would like to see more of the venue.

    3- 景色怡人,好似人間天堂。 (ging2 sik1 ji4 jan4, hou2 ci5 jan4 gaan1 tin1 tong4.)

    Her neighbor, Lisa, uses an expression meaning - “Nice scenery. It’s like heaven on earth.”
    Lisa agrees with Karen’s sentiments in this comment.

    4- 中咗六合彩咪可以搬過去囉! (zung3 zo2 luk6 hap6 coi2 mei6 ho2 ji3 bun1 gwo3 heoi3 lo1!)

    Her high school friend, Maggie, uses an expression meaning - “You can move there if you win the lottery!”
    Maggie seems to think Karen’s chances of staying at this beautiful location are minute.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 呢度 (ni1 dou6): “here”
  • 住 (zyu6): “live”
  • 發夢 (faat3 mung6): “dream; day-dream”
  • 景色 (ging2 sik1): “scenery; landscape”
  • 天堂 (tin1 tong4): “heaven; paradise”
  • 六合彩 (luk6 hap6 coi2): “”Mark 6″ (lottery in Hong Kong)”
  • 搬 (bun1): “move; relocate”
  • Which phrase would you prefer when a friend posts about a famous landmark?

    Share your special places with the world. Or simply post about your relaxing experiences.

    19. Post about Relaxing Somewhere in Cantonese

    So you’re doing nothing yet you enjoy that too? Tell your social media friends about it in Cantonese!

    David relaxes at a beautiful place, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down David’s post.

    好耐冇試過咁hea!呢度真係超正! (hou2 noi6 mou5 si3 gwo3 gam3 he3! ni1 dou6 zan1 hai6 ciu1 zeng3!)
    “Haven’t been this relaxed for so long! It’s beyond excellent here!”

    1- 好耐冇試過咁hea! (hou2 noi6 mou5 si3 gwo3 gam3 he3!)

    First is an expression meaning “Haven’t been this relaxed for a long time! .”
    Hea (he3) is a Cantonese slang term that means “relaxed; laid-back” or “uncommitted; half-hearted” when used as an adjective. When used as a verb, it means “to chill out”, “to hang around”, “to loiter”, or “to lounge around”.

    2- 呢度真係超正! (ni1 dou6 zan1 hai6 ciu1 zeng3!)

    Then comes the phrase - “It’s beyond excellent here!”
    超 (ciu1) means “super; go beyond”, and we use it for exaggeration.

    COMMENTS

    In response, David’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 好明顯你喺度晒命啦! (hou2 ming4 hin2 nei5 hai2 dou6 saai3 meng6 laa1!)

    His college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “You’re obviously showing off!”
    Will is teasing his friend a bit.

    2- 好好享受咁好嘅天氣! (hou2 hou2 hoeng2 sau6 gam3 hou2 ge3 tin1 hei3!)

    His high school friend, Kitty, uses an expression meaning - “Enjoy the nice weather!”
    Kitty seems happy that David is in a good mood and simply acknowledges this with a pleasant wish.

    3- 唔該下次帶埋我。 (m4 goi1 haa6 ci3 daai3 maai4 ngo5.)

    His wife’s high school friend, Maggie, uses an expression meaning - “Please bring me along next time.”
    Maggie evidently wishes to be where David finds himself!

    4- 你幾時返? (nei5 gei2 si4 faan1?)

    His wife’s nephew, Tommy, uses an expression meaning - “When are you coming back?”
    Perhaps Tommy is missing his aunt? That’s possible! He would also like more information with this question.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 好耐 (hou2 noi6): “a long time”
  • 明顯 (ming4 hin2): “obviously”
  • 晒命 (saai3 meng6): “show off, boast”
  • 享受 (hoeng2 sau6): “enjoy”
  • 天氣 (tin1 hei3): “weather”
  • 下次 (haa6 ci3): “next time”
  • 帶埋 (daai3 maai4): “bring along; take along”
  • Which phrase would you use to comment on a friend’s feed?

    The break was great, but now it’s time to return home.

    20. What to Say in Cantonese When You’re Home Again

    And you’re back! What will you share with friends and followers?

    Karen returns home after a vacation, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Karen’s post.

    始終都係屋企最舒服,home sweet home! (ci2 zung1 dou1 hai6 uk1 kei2 zeoi3 syu1 fuk6, HOME SWEET HOME!)
    “In the end, home is the most comfortable!”

    1- 始終都係 (ci2 zung1 dou1 hai6)

    First is an expression meaning “At the end, it’s still.”
    We start a sentence with this phrase when referring to something that still hold the same value even after a long time.

    2- 屋企最舒服 (uk1 kei2 zeoi3 syu1 fuk6)

    Then comes the phrase - “home is the most comfortable.”
    The lack of affordable housing has been one of the main livelihood issues in Hong Kong in the last decade. It was reported that the housing market has tripled in value since 2003, while the real income of the workforce hardly went up.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Karen’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 捨得返嚟喇? (se2 dak1 faan1 lei4 laa4?)

    Her high school friend, Maggie, uses an expression meaning - “You finally came back?”
    Maggie was probably impatient for Karen to return home!

    2- 星期六出嚟食飯,順便睇相。 (sing1 kei4 luk6 ceot1 lei4 sik6 faan6, seon6 bin2 tai2 soeng2.)

    Her husband’s high school friend, Kitty, uses an expression meaning - “Let’s have dinner on Saturday, and we can look at the photos.”
    Kitty makes a good suggestion for a get-together.

    3- 家,始終最好。 (gaa1, ci2 zung1 zeoi3 hou2.)

    Her neighbor, Lisa, uses an expression meaning - “Home is always the best.”
    Lisa agrees with Karen’s comment about home.

    4- 買咗咩俾我? (maai5 zo2 me1 bei2 ngo5?)

    Her husband’s college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “What did you get me?”
    Will pretends to care only about gifts!

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 始終 (ci2 zung1): “all along; always; at the end of the day”
  • 屋企 (uk1 kei2): “home”
  • 舒服 (syu1 fuk6): “comfortable”
  • 捨得 (se2 dak1): “willing to”
  • 星期六 (sing1 kei4 luk6): “Saturday”
  • 順便 (seon6 bin2): “incidentally; at one’s convenience”
  • 相 (soeng2): “photo; picture”
  • How would you welcome a friend back from a trip?

    What would you post on social media when something is celebrated with great show, such as the Chinese New Year fire-work show?

    In Hong Kong, it is custom to celebrate two New Years. These are the Chinese New Year and the New Year celebrated all around the world on January 1st. The Chinese New Year marks the beginning of one of the biggest holidays in the country, the Spring Festival holiday is celebrated on a different date every year.

    21. It’s Time to Celebrate in Cantonese

    It’s a festive day and you wish to post something about it on social media. What would you say?

    David watches the Chinese New Year fireworks show, posts an image of the event, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down David’s post.

    恭喜發財!今年煙花勁靚! (gung1 hei2 faat3 coi4! gam1 nin4 jin1 faa1 ging6 leng3!)
    “May you have a prosperous New Year! This year’s fireworks are breathtaking!”

    1- 恭喜發財! (gung1 hei2 faat3 coi4!)

    First is an expression meaning “May you have a prosperous New Year!”
    This greeting is used very frequently during the first two weeks of Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year in Hong Kong is commonly celebrated with the family. The subways operate overnight on New Year’s eve so people can visit night markets without worrying about the time.

    2- 今年煙花勁靚呀! (gam1 nin4 jin1 faa1 ging6 leng3 aa3!)

    Then comes the phrase - “This year’s fireworks are breathtaking!”
    The annual Hong Kong Chinese New Year Fireworks are held at 8pm on the second day of the new lunar year, and lasts around 30 minutes. Most people watch it at the harbourfront, or rent a boat to get a perfect view from the harbor.

    COMMENTS

    In response, David’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 大家咁話!最緊要身體健康! (daai6 gaa1 gam2 waa6! zeoi3 gan2 jiu3 san1 tai2 gin6 hong1!)

    His neighbor, Lisa, uses an expression meaning - “Same to you! And the most important (thing) is to have good health!
    Lisa responds to David’s enthusiastic New Year wish with a remark about good health.

    2- 祝年年有餘! (zuk1 nin4 nin4 jau5 jyu4!)

    His supervisor, Sam, uses an expression meaning - “Wishing you prosperity through the years!”
    This is a common New Year wish that is often used.

    3- 派利是! (paai3 lai6 si6!)

    His college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “Red packets, please!”
    It is tradition in Hong Kong that the married gives the unmarried a monetary gift in red envelopes or red packets. Will reminds his married friends of this custom.

    4- 祝你一家人健康,快樂。 (zuk1 nei5 jat1 gaa1 jan4 gin6 hong1, faai3 lok6.)

    His high school friend, Kitty, uses an expression meaning - “Wishing you and your family health and happiness.”
    This is another traditional, common way to wish someone well for the New Year.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 煙花 (jin1 faa1): “fireworks”
  • 勁 (ging6): “extremely”
  • 靚 (leng3): “beautiful; pretty”
  • 緊要 (gan2 jiu3): “important; critical”
  • 派 (paai3): “dispatch; assign”
  • 利是 (lai6 si6): “red packet; lucky money contained in a red envelope given as gifts”
  • 健康 (gin6 hong1): “health”
  • If a friend posted something about a holiday, which phrase would you use?

    Chinese New Year and other public commemoration days are not the only special ones to remember!

    22. Posting about a Birthday on Social Media in Cantonese

    Your friend or you are celebrating your birthday in an unexpected way. Be sure to share this on social media!

    Karen goes to her birthday party, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Karen’s post.

    巧開心!多謝你哋同我慶祝! (haau2 hoi1 sam1! do1 ze6 nei5 dei6 tung4 ngo5 hing3 zuk1!)
    “So happy! Thank you guys for celebrating with me!”

    1- 巧開心! (haau2 hoi1 sam1!)

    First is an expression meaning “So happy!”
    巧 (haau2) is the playful version of 好 (hou2) “very” used by Hong Kong girls on social media.

    2- 多謝你哋同我慶祝! (do1 ze6 nei5 dei6 tung4 ngo5 hing3 zuk1!)

    Then comes the phrase - “Thank you guys for celebrating with me!”
    Hong Kong residents with a HKID can enjoy free entry to Ocean Park, Madame Tussauds Hong Kong, Hong Kong 3D Museum, and Trick Eye Museum on their birthdays.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Karen’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 又大一歲。 (jau6 daai6 jat1 seoi3.)

    Her high school friend, Maggie, uses an expression meaning - “Another year older.”
    Maggie reminds Karen that they’re getting older - after a certain age, this is not such a nice reminder any longer, especially for women!

    2- 青春常駐,年年廿八。 (cing1 ceon1 soeng4 zyu3, nin4 nin4 jaa6 baat3.)

    Her husband’s high school friend, Kitty, uses an expression meaning - “Wishing you always (stay) young, like 28 years old every year.”
    Kitty, on the other hand, wishes her friend eternal youth!

    3- 牛一快樂! (ngau4 jat1 faai3 lok6!)

    Her college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “Happy B-day!”
    Will resorts to the traditional birthday wish in abbreviated form.

    4- 祝你生日快樂,心想事成! (zuk1 nei5 saang1 jat6 faai3 lok6, sam1 soeng2 si6 sing4!)

    Her neighbor, Lisa, uses an expression meaning - “I wish you a happy birthday, and that all your wishes come true!”
    Lisa’s wish is as kind-hearted as she seems to be.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 慶祝 (hing3 zuk1): “celebrate”
  • 歲 (seoi3): “year; age (of a person)”
  • 青春常駐 (cing1 ceon1 soeng4 zyu3): “stay young forever”
  • 年年 (nin4 nin4): “every year”
  • 廿八 (jaa6 baat3): “twenty-eight (28)”
  • 牛一 (ngau4 jat1): “birthday (this is a witty version of 生日”birthday”, because the character 生 is formed by 牛 on the top and 一 at the bottom.)”
  • 心想事成 (sam1 soeng2 si6 sing4): “All wishes come true”
  • If a friend posted something about birthday greetings, which phrase would you use?

    23. Talking about New Year on Social Media in Cantonese

    Impress your friends with your Cantonese New Year’s wishes this year. Learn the phrases easily!

    David celebrates the New Year, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down David’s post.

    祝大家新年快樂! (zuk1 daai6 gaa1 san1 nin4 faai3 lok6!)
    “Happy New Year, everyone!”

    1- 祝大家 (zuk1 daai6 gaa1)

    First is an expression meaning “I wish everyone.”
    When wishing everyone something on social media, start with this phrase.

    2- 新年快樂! (san1 nin4 faai3 lok6!)

    Then comes the phrase - “Happy New Year!”
    New year in Hong Kong means a public holiday on Jan 1st. This greeting, literally “New Year happy”, is used very frequently during the first week of the new year. The subways operate overnight on December 31st so people can party till late and countdown to the new year.

    COMMENTS

    In response, David’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 咁快又新年喇? (gam3 faai3 jau6 san1 nin4 laa4?)

    His college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “New Year again already?”
    Will expresses what many people possibly feels - time flies!

    2- 你都係!祝你乜都掂! (nei5 dou1 hai6! zuk1 nei5 mat1 dou1 dim6!)

    His wife’s high school friend, Maggie, uses an expression meaning - “Same to you! Hope everything is going smoothly!”
    Maggie returns David’s wish with this comment.

    3- 咁快又一年,時間過得真係快。 (gam3 faai3 jau6 jat1 nin4, si4 gaan3 gwo3
    dak1 zan1 hai6 faai3.)

    His supervisor, Sam, uses an expression meaning - “A year went by already; time flies.”
    Sam feels the same as Will!

    4- 新嘅一年有咩大計? (san1 ge3 jat1 nin4 jau5 me1 daai6 gai3?)

    His high school friend, Kitty, uses an expression meaning - “Any resolutions for the New Year?”
    Kitty partakes in the conversation by asking a question - a good way to keep a chat going!

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 新年 (san1 nin4): “new year”
  • 快樂 (faai3 lok6): “happy”
  • 又 (jau4): “again; also; and”
  • 掂 (dim6): “satisfactory; in good order”
  • 真係 (zan1 hai6): “really”
  • 快 (faai3 lok6): “fast; quick; soon”
  • 大計 (daai6 gai3): “plan; resolution”
  • Which is your favorite phrase to post on social media during New Year?

    But before New Year’s Day comes another important day…

    24. What to Post on Christmas Day in Cantonese

    What will you say in Cantonese about Christmas?

    Karen celebrates Christmas with her family, posts an image of the event, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Karen’s post.

    聖誕快樂!今晚去睇燈飾。 (sing3 daan3 faai3 lok6! gam1 maan5 heoi3 tai2 dang1 sik1.)
    “Merry Christmas! Tonight we’ll go watch the Christmas light display.”

    1- 聖誕快樂! (sing3 daan3 faai3 lok6!)

    First is an expression meaning “Merry Christmas!”
    This greeting, literally “Christmas happy”, is used very frequently during the Christmas season. Christmas in Hong Kong is a time celebrated with the boyfriend or girlfriend and/or friends. The subways operate overnight on December 24th so people can party till late and countdown to Christmas day.

    2- 今晚去睇燈飾。 (gam1 maan5 heoi3 tai2 dang1 sik1.)

    Then comes the phrase - “Tonight go watch light display.”
    Many buildings and all shopping malls in Hong Kong wear Christmas decorations and lightings, and there are brilliant displays citywide. A favorite activity during the Christmas holiday is to go sightseeing these different light displays.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Karen’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 去邊度食聖誕大餐呀? (heoi3 bin1 dou6 sik6 sing3 daan3 daai6 caan1 aa3?)

    Her high school friend, Maggie, uses an expression meaning - “Where are you going for Christmas dinner?”
    Maggie wants to know more about Karen’s plans for Christmas.

    2- 今晚翻風,記得著多件衫。 (gam1 maan5 faan1 fung1, gei3 dak1 zoek3 do1 gin6 saam1.)

    Her neighbor, Lisa, uses an expression meaning - “It’ll get windy tonight; remember to put on extra clothes.”
    Lisa speaks like concerned mother or older sister!

    3- 聖誕快樂!假期後見。 (sing3 daan3 faai3 lok6! gaa3 kei4 hau6 gin3.)

    Her supervisor, Sam, uses an expression meaning - “Merry Christmas! See you after the holiday.”
    Sam wishes Karen well with a traditional Christmas wish.

    4- 睇燈飾咁浪漫呀。 (tai2 dang1 sik1 gam3 long6 maan6 aa4.)

    Her college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “Christmas light display? That’s so romantic.”
    Will shares his thoughts about their sightseeing plans for Christmas.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 聖誕 (sing3 daan3): “Christmas”
  • 燈飾 (dang1 sik1): “light display; illumination”
  • 翻風 (faan1 fung1): “be windy; get windy”
  • 記得 (gei3 dak1): “remember”
  • 衫 (saam1): “clothes; clothing”
  • 假期 (gaa3 kei4): “holiday”
  • 浪漫 (long6 maan6): “romantic”
  • If a friend posted something about Christmas greetings, which phrase would you use?

    So, the festive season is over! Yet, there will always be other days, besides a birthday, to wish someone well.

    25. Post about Your Anniversary in Cantonese

    Some things deserve to be celebrated, like wedding anniversaries. Learn which Cantonese phrases are meaningful and best suited for this purpose!

    David celebrates his wedding anniversary with his wife, posts an image of them together, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down David’s post.

    今日係我哋結婚週年。老婆,愛你一萬年! (gam1 jat6 hai6 ngo5 dei6 git3 fan1 zau1 nin4, lou5 po4, oi3 nei5 jat1 maan6 nin4!)
    “Today is our wedding anniversary. Honey, I love you forever!”

    1- 今日係我哋結婚週年。 (gam1 jat6 hai6 ngo5 dei6 git3 fan1 zau1 nin4)

    First is an expression meaning “Today is our anniversary.”
    When you want to announce something special about today, you start with 今日係 (gam1 jat6 hai6) “Today is…”

    2- 老婆,愛你一萬年! (lou5 po4, ngoi3 nei5 jat1 maan6 nin4!)

    Then comes the phrase - “wifey, I love you forever!”
    The last part is literally “I love you for ten thousand years”, it came from a Stephen Chow movie and is widely used nowadays to mean “I love you forever”.

    COMMENTS

    In response, David’s friends leave some comments.

    1- 老公,愛你!<3 (lou5 gung1, oi3 nei5!)

    His wife, Karen, uses an expression meaning - “Hubby, I love you! <3"
    David and Karen are openly affectionate on social media.

    2- 時間過得真係快。Happy Anniversary! (si4 gaan3 gwo3 dak1 zan1 hai6 faai3. Happy Anniversary!)

    His high school friend, Kitty, uses an expression meaning - “Time flies. Happy Anniversary!”
    This is again a comment on how fast time passes, as well as a traditional anniversary wish.

    3- 嘩!閃光彈! (waa1! sim2 gwong1 daan2!)

    His wife’s high school friend, Maggie, uses an expression meaning - “Wow! Showoffs!”
    Maggie must be referring to the couple’s romantic comments, and the fact that they’re still so in love after a year of marriage.

    4- Maggie,你唔恨得咁多。 (Maggie, nei5 m4 han6 dak1 gam3 do1.)

    His college friend, Will, uses an expression meaning - “Maggie, don’t be jealous.”
    Will chats with Maggie here!

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • 結婚週年 (zau1 nin4): “anniversary”
  • 老婆 (lou5 po4): “wife; wifey”
  • 老公 (lou5 gung1): “husband; hubby”
  • 時間 (si4 gaan3): “time”
  • 快 (faai3): “fast; quick”
  • 閃光彈 (sim2 gwong1 daan2): “showoff (lit. “flashbang”)”
  • 恨 (han6): “long for; want something badly”
  • If a friend posted something about anniversary greetings, which phrase would you use?

    Conclusion

    Learning to speak a new language will always be easier once you know key phrases that everybody uses. These would include commonly used expressions for congratulations and best wishes, etc.

    Master these in fun ways with Learn Cantonese! We offer a variety of tools to individualize your learning experience, including using cell phone apps, audiobooks, iBooks and many more. Never wonder again what to say on social media!

    Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese

    How to Say Sorry in Cantonese

    How to say sorry is one of the first things that a traveler or a language learner should learn—knowing how to say sorry helps us better communicate and maintain relationships with new friends, especially in Hong Kong where we are famous for our politeness. That said, it’s quite important to learn how to say sorry in Cantonese culture.

    There are various ways to say sorry in English, such as “I am sorry,” My apologies,” and many more. It’s the same for Cantonese; we have different phrases to express our apologies for formal, informal, and specific occasions. Let’s go through some of the most widely-used phrases for apology in Cantonese below together! Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet - How to Improve Your Cantonese Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

    1. The Two Most Common Phrases
    2. Formal Apologies
    3. Other Phrases
    4. How to Answer to Sorry
    5. Manner & Gesture when You Say Sorry
    6. Written Form of “I am Sorry”
    7. Bonus: Hot Topic of the City
    8. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101 can Help You Learn More Cantonese

    Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese


    1. The Two Most Common Phrases

    3

    The two most common Cantonese phrases for saying sorry are 對唔住 (deoi3 m4 zyu6) and 唔好意思 (m4 ho2 ji3 si3). They’re applicable to a wide range of circumstances, so learning how to use them to say sorry in learning Cantonese is vital. When learning how to say sorry in Cantonese, these words and phrases may just be your saving grace in various situations.

    1- 對唔住

    • Romanization: deoi3 m4 zyu6
    • Meaning: Sorry

    Example:

    • Cantonese character: 對唔住,我打爛咗你部電腦。
    • Romanization: deoi3 m4 zyu6, ngo5 daa2 laan6 zo2 nei5 bou6 din6 nou5.
    • Meaning: Sorry, I broke your computer.

    Explanation / Notes:
    This phrase literally means “sorry” and can be used in both formal and informal settings. Note that we only use this phrase when we want to express our apology and remorse. If you want to say that you’re sorry in the sense of expressing your regret or sadness over a news story or an incident, 唔好意思 (m4 ho2 ji3 si3) is more suitable.

    We usually put 對唔住 (deoi3 m4 zyu6) at the start of the sentence. As it’s a phrase rather than a word, we seldom use it in the middle of a sentence unless we’re quoting it as a noun phrase.

    2- 唔好意思

    • Romanization: m4 ho2 ji3 si3
    • Meaning: Excuse me / Sorry

    Example:

    • Cantonese character: 唔好意思,剩返七碼咋。
    • Romanization: m4 hou2 ji3 si3, zing6 faan1 cat1 maa5 zaa3.
    • Meaning: I’m sorry, we only have size 7 left.

    Explanation / Notes:
    This phrase is applicable to a wider range of contexts compared to 對唔住 (deoi3 m4 zyu6) and can be used both formally and informally. There are, broadly, three scenarios where you can use 唔好意思 (m4 ho2 ji3 si3), including grabbing someone’s attention (i.e. “excuse me”), expressing your regret or sadness over bad news or an incident, and apologizing for minor incidents.

    • To grab someone’s attention:
      • Cantonese character: 唔好意思,閘口喺邊?
      • Romanization: m4 ho2 ji3 si3, zaap6 hau2 hai2 bin1?
      • Meaning: Excuse me, where is the entrance?
    • To express your regret over bad news:
      • Cantonese character: 唔好意思,無貨喇。
      • Romanization: m4 ho2 ji3 si3, mou5 fo3 laa3.
      • Meaning: I’m sorry, it is out of stock.
    • To apologize for a minor incident:
      • Cantonese character: 唔好意思,唔小心踩到你。
      • Romanization: m4 ho2 ji3 si3, m4 siu2 sam1 caai2 dou2 nei5.
      • Meaning: I’m sorry for stepping on your shoes accidentally.

    Comparatively, 對唔住 (deoi3 m4 zyu6) is more formal and is mainly reserved for serious offenses. When you’re speaking informally with friends, the most common apology is 唔好意思 (m4 hou2 ji3 si3). You can use both apologies to make your way through a crowd.


    2. Formal Apologies

    There are some phrases we reserve for serious and formal apologies, which are usually used in business settings.

    Woman Bowing

    1- 我衷心道歉

    • Romanization: ngo5 cung1 sam1 dou6 hip3.
    • Meaning: I sincerely apologize.

    Example:

    • Cantonese character: 對於今日發生嘅事故,我衷心道歉。
    • Romanization: deoi3 jyu1 gam1 jat6 faat3 sang1 ge3 si6 gu3, ngo5 cung1 sam1 dou6 hip3.
    • Meaning: I sincerely apologize for the incident that happened today.

    2- 我想道歉

    • Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 dou6 hip3.
    • Meaning: I would like to apologize.

    Example:

    • Cantonese character: 我匯報得唔好,我想道歉。
    • Romanization: ngo5 wui6 bou3 dak1 m4 hou2, ngo5 soeng2 dou6 hip3.
    • Meaning: I would like to apologize for my poor presentation.


    3. Other Phrases

    Say Sorry

    There are other phrases related to apology in Cantonese too. The phrases we’re introducing below, as well as the ones above, can sometimes be used together at the same time, depending on the situation. For example, if you want to admit that you’re the one at fault, apologize, and then beg for forgiveness, you could say: 係我唔啱,對唔住,求下你唔好嬲我 (hai6 ngo5 m4 aam1, deoi3 m4 zyu6, kau4 haa5 nei5 m4 hou2 nau1 ngo5).

    1- 係我唔啱

    • Romanization: hai6 ngo5 m4 aam1.
    • Meaning: It is my fault.

    Example:

    • Cantonese character: 我唔應該對你發火,係我唔啱。
    • Romanization: ngo5 m4 jing1 goi1 deoi3 nei5 faat3 fo2, hai6 ngo5 m4 aam1.
    • Meaning: I should not be mad at you, it is my fault.

    2- 我唔會再咁做

    • Romanization: ngo5 m4 wui5 zoi3 gam2 zou6.
    • Meaning: I won’t do it again.

    Example:

    • Cantonese character: 如果你唔鍾意嘅話,我唔會再咁做。
    • Romanization: jyu4 gwo2 nei5 m4 zung1 ji3 ge3 waa2, ngo5 m4 wui2 zoi3 gam2 zou6.
    • Meaning: If you don’t like this, I won’t do it again.

    3- 我要為對你咁衰而道歉

    • Romanization: ngo5 jiu3 wai6 deoi3 nei5 gam3 seoi1 ji4 dou6 hip3.
    • Meaning: I apologize for being mean to you.

    Example:

    • Cantonese character: 我唔應該笑你,我要為對你咁衰而道歉。
    • Romanization: ngo5 m4 jing1 goi1 siu3 nei5, ngo5 jiu3 wai6 deoi3 nei5 gam3 seoi1 ji4 dou6 hip3.
    • Meaning: I should not have laughed at you, I apologize for being mean to you.

    4- 我希望你可以原諒我

    • Romanization: ngo5 hei1 mong6 nei5 ho2 ji3 jyun4 loeng6 ngo5.
    • Meaning: I hope you will forgive me.

    Example:

    • Cantonese character: 係我唔啱,我希望你可以原諒我。
    • Romanization: hai6 ngo5 m4 aam1, ngo5 hei1 mong6 nei5 ho2 ji3 jyun4 loeng6 ngo5.
    • Meaning: It is my fault and I hope you will forgive me.

    5- 我一早就唔應該咁做

    • Romanization: ngo5 jat1 zou2 zau6 m4 jing1 goi1 gam2 zou6.
    • Meaning: I should not have done it.

    Example:

    • Cantonese character: 我知道你覺得難受,我一早就唔應該咁做。
    • Romanization: ngo5 zi1 dou3 nei5 gok3 dak1 naan4 sau6, ngo5 jat1 zou2 zau6 m4 jing3 goi1 gam2 zou6.
    • Meaning: I know it hurts you badly, I should not have done it.

    6- 我無咁嘅意思

    • Romanization: ngo5 mou4 gam2 ge3 ji3 si1.
    • Meaning: I did not mean that.

    Example:

    • Cantonese character: 可能中間有啲誤會,我無咁嘅意思。
    • Romanization: ho2 nang4 zung1 gaan1 jau5 di1 ng6 wui6, ngo5 mou4 gam2 ge3 ji3 si1.
    • Meaning: I did not mean that, I guess there could be some misunderstanding.

    7- 我保證唔會再犯呢個錯

    • Romanization: ngo5 bou2 zing3 m4 wui5 zoi3 faan6 ni1 go3 co3.
    • Meaning: I will make sure I do not make the same mistake again.

    Example:

    • Cantonese character: 我唔應該咁做,我保證唔會再犯呢個錯。
    • Romanization: ngo5 m4 jing3 goi1 gam2 zou6, ngo5 bou2 zing3 m4 wui5 zoi3 faan6 ni1 go3 co3.
    • Meaning: I should not have done this and I promise I will not make the same mistake again.

    8- 求下你唔好嬲我

    • Romanization: kau4 haa5 nei5 m4 hou2 nau1 ngo5.
    • Meaning: Please do not be mad at me.

    Example:

    • Cantonese character: 我唔會再咁做,求下你唔好嬲我。
    • Romanization: ngo5 m4 wui5 zoi3 gam2 zou6, kau4 haa5 nei5 m4 hou2 nau1 ngo5.
    • Meaning: I won’t do it again. Please don’t be mad at me.


    4. How to Answer to Sorry

    Man Asking for Forgiveness

    If someone apologizes to you, you can reply with the below phrases:

    • 唔緊要 (m4 gan2 jiu3) - no worries / never mind
    • 無問題 (mou5 man6 tai4) - no problem
    • 無所謂 (mou5 so2 wai6) - doesn’t matter

    唔緊要 (m4 gan2 jiu3) is the standard way to reply to an apology, but you can use the other two phrases as well depending on the scenarios.


    5. Manner & Gesture when You Say Sorry

    Woman Apologizing

    In general, you should be polite and sincere when you apologize. Keep your tone flat and slightly tilt your head down. You can either look into the eyes of the person you’re saying sorry to or look down. We don’t have any common gesture that signifies “sorry.” We just say the words without any hand gesture or further body posture, such as bowing, as is common in some other cultures.


    6. Written Form of “I am Sorry”

    As you may know, there are two forms of Cantonese, one in spoken form and the other in written form. We speak slightly differently than we write. The above phrases are all in spoken form. So what about the written form of “I am sorry” in Cantonese?

    • Chinese character: 對不起
    • Romanization: deoi3 bat1 hei2
    • Meaning: Sorry

    對不起 (deoi3 bat1 hei2) is the written form of 對唔住 (deoi3 m4 zyu6) and they have literally the same meaning. Although more and more Hong Kongeses write in the spoken form of Cantonese, it’s still impermissible to write spoken Cantonese in schools and formal writings. Also, we never speak written Cantonese in our daily lives.


    7. Bonus: Hot Topic of the City

    Have you ever pissed off your significant other? How would you apologize? How far would you go to ask for his or her forgiveness? Check out the video below to see how a man begged for his girlfriend’s forgiveness in Hong Kong:

    If you’re not up for the extreme measures of saying sorry, like many of us do, read Common Ways to Say Sorry in Cantonese to learn more alternative ways to apologize.


    8. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101 can Help You Learn More Cantonese

    If you’re eager to know more common Cantonese phrases and words on top of saying sorry, please do visit CantoneseClass101.com, where you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through either your mobile apps, desktop software, or even our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture.

    We’ve delivered until now more than 750,000,000 lessons to thousands of happy students from all around the globe. You can learn Cantonese with over 1060 audio and video lessons delivered by our knowledgeable and energetic hosts, detailed PDF lesson notes, abundance of vocabulary learning tools and spaced repetition flashcards, and a lively community to discuss the lessons with fellow learners. What are you waiting for? Download our lessons, enjoy our audio and video files, and start learning now!

    In the meantime, continue practicing how to say “I apologize” in Cantonese, along with all the other phrases we went over. You’ll be glad you did next time you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation in Hong Kong. Best of luck to you!

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    The Chung Yeung Festival in Hong Kong

    The Chung Yeung Festival in Hong Kong

    The Chung Yeung Festival in Hong Kong stretches down into history as far as the Han Dynasty, and is an integral part of Hong Kong’s culture and identity. This holiday comprises largely of two concepts: warding off ill luck and respecting one’s ancestors.

    In this article, you’ll learn about the various Chung Yeung Festival traditions and the meaning behind them—including why HongKongers drink chrysanthemum wine and climb mountains on this day! You’ll soon see how essential knowing about the Chung Yeung Festival is to really understanding Cantonese culture today.

    And at CantoneseClass101.com, we hope to make every aspect of your language-learning journey both fun and informative!

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    1. What is Chung Yeung Festival?

    The Chung Yeung Festival, or the Double Ninth Festival, is a holiday with deep historic roots, having begun as early as the Han Dynasty period. This is a public holiday, and known to be a busy time for many shops and tourist locations in Hong Kong.

    The Chung Yeung Festival in Hong Kong has traditionally been considered a day of bad luck and potential danger. This is rooted in the Chung Yeung Festival story, in which a man is warned of danger to his village and escapes to the mountains; because he survived his village’s disaster, the Chung Yeung Festival is also considered a day of warding off or escaping ill luck.

    Further, many people take this day to pay respect to their ancestors.

    2. When is the Chung Yeung Festival?

    Ninth Day of Ninth Lunar Month

    The Cantonese Chung Yeung Festival is celebrated each year on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month (hence its common name of Double Ninth Festival).

    For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date on the Gregorian calendar for the next ten years.

    • 2019: October 7
    • 2020: October 25
    • 2021: October 14
    • 2022: October 4
    • 2023: October 23
    • 2024: October 11
    • 2025: October 29
    • 2026: October 18
    • 2027: October 8
    • 2028: October 26

    3. Chung Yeung Festival Traditions in Hong Kong

    Paying Respect to Ancestors

    Most Chung Yeung Festival activities are performed today in fun celebration, though traditionally they were done in order to ward off bad luck or circumstances.

    Just as the man in the Chung Yeung Festival story escaped death by going to the mountains, HongKongers often climb mountains or hills themselves on this day. Others may simply go on a hike with family or loved ones.

    Another common feature of the Chung Yeung Festival holiday is flying kites. The symbolism behind this is similar to that of climbing mountains. Essentially, HongKongers believe that flying the kite removes bad luck from them, up into the sky where it can’t get to them during the year.

    Further, on a more solemn note, many HongKongers visit ancestral graves during the Chung Yeung Festival as a show of respect and honor. This is usually an occasion for the whole family, who offers their ancestors food, clean the sites, and burn incense.

    4. Chung Yeung Festival Foods

    During the Chung Yeung Festival, Hong Kong also celebrates through consuming the Chung Yeung rice cake and chrysanthemum wine. HongKongers believe that the wine (which they often make themselves at home!) cleanses the person drinking it, thus helping to remove ill luck. And as for the cake, it represents being “up” or “on top,” and when eaten, is thought to improve the chances of the consumer moving to a higher status in life.

    5. Essential Chung Yeung Festival Vocabulary

    Yellow Chrysanthemum Flower

    Here’s the essential vocabulary to know for the Chung Yeung Festival in Hong Kong!

    • 野餐 (je5 caan1) — picnic
    • 重陽 (cung4 joeng4) — the ninth day of the ninth lunar month
    • 祭祖 (zai3 zou2) — pay respect at ancestors’ grave
    • 耐 (noi6) — long time
    • 風箏 (fung1 zang1) — kite
    • 香 (hoeng1) — incense
    • 登高 (dang1 gou1) — climb a mountain
    • 重陽糕 (cung4 joeng4 gou1) — Chung Yeung rice cake
    • 菊花酒 (guk1 faa1 zau2) — chrysanthemum wine
    • 菊花 (guk1 faa1) — chrysanthemum
    • 重陽節 (cung4 joeng4 zit3) — Chung Yeung Festival

    To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, and alongside relevant images, check out our Cantonese Chung Yeung Festival vocabulary list!

    How CantoneseClass101 Can Help You Master Cantonese

    What are your thoughts on the Chung Yeung Festival in Hong Kong? Is there a similar holiday in your country? Let us know in the comments; we always look forward to hearing from you.

    To continue learning about Cantonese culture and the language, explore CantoneseClass101.com. We provide an array of fun and effective learning tools for every learner, at every level:

    • Insightful blog posts on a range of cultural and language-related topics
    • Free vocabulary lists covering a variety of topics and themes
    • Podcasts and videos to improve your listening and pronunciation skills
    • Mobile apps to learn Cantonese anywhere, on your own time
    • Much, much more!

    If you’re interested in a more personalized, one-on-one learning approach, be sure to upgrade to Premium Plus. Doing so will give you access to your own Cantonese teacher who will help you develop a plan tailored to your needs and goals. Yes, really!

    Cantonese is one of the most difficult languages for non-native speakers to learn, which makes your effort and determination that much more meaningful! Your hard work will pay off in the long run, and know that CantoneseClass101 will be here to help in every step of your journey.

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    Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong

    In Hong Kong, the Mid-Autumn Festival is an annual holiday that corresponds with the full moon, which represents unity. This is a time of family fun, fire games, mooncakes, and mythology!

    In this article, you’ll learn about the Mid-Autumn Festival story and how HongKongers celebrate this special evening today. You may be surprised how much cultural insight you can glean in studying this holiday—and understanding a country’s culture is an essential step in mastering the language.

    At CantoneseClass101.com, we hope to make this learning journey both fun and informative! So let’s get started.

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    1. What is Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong?

    On the evening of Mid-Autumn Festival, the moon is very round, because it’s a full moon. The full moon symbolizes reunion in Chinese culture, so families will gather together and admire the full moon while eating mooncake.

    Now let’s talk about the mythology of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

    There was a time when there were ten suns, which overheated the mortal world. So the Emperor of Heaven sent HouYi, an archer, and his wife, Chang’e, to the mortal world. HouYi shot down the extra nine suns and relieved the suffering of the people.

    To reward him, the Queen of Heaven gave him two immortal elixirs. On August 15, while HouYi was out, his apprentice forced Chang’e to surrender the elixir. Chang’e accidentally swallowed the elixir and floated to the moon.

    2. When is Mid-Autumn Festival?

    A Full Moon

    The date of the Mid-autumn Festival varies each year on the Gregorian calendar, as it takes place on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years on the Gregorian calendar.

    • 2019: September 13
    • 2020: October 1
    • 2021: September 21
    • 2022: September 10
    • 2023: September 29
    • 2024: September 17
    • 2025: October 6
    • 2026: September 25
    • 2027: September 15
    • 2028: October 3

    3. Mid-Autumn Festival Celebrations & Traditions

    In Hong Kong, the Mid-Autumn Festival public holiday is actually on the day after, so that everyone can get the most out of the celebrations of Mid-Autumn evening.

    1- Playing with Fire: Mid-Autumn Festival Lanterns

    On this evening, children carry lanterns in the shape of their favorite cartoon characters, and teenagers play with candles, or even burn wax. However, because of the high number of fire-related disasters and injuries, as well as the massive amount of leftover melted wax in public areas, the government has listed wax burning as illegal.

    2- Mid-Autumn Festival Food: The Mooncake

    The mooncake is a special food unique to the Mid-Autumn Festival. Have you ever tried it? A traditional mooncake is round like the moon, but has diversified in recent years for commercial purposes.

    Other than the traditional lotus seed paste with egg yolk filling, snow-skin mooncake and other new flavor variants are also popular in Hong Kong. For example: abalone, swallow’s nest, barbecued pork, and sesame. The snow-skin mooncake is a new style of mooncake that’s served chilled. Please give it a try if you have a chance!

    3- Fire Dragon Dance

    Another custom of the Mid-Autumn Festival is the fire dragon dance. You can see a fire dragon dancing on the streets of Tai Hang in Causeway Bay three nights in a row. For the fire dragon dance, you may see some eye-catching Hong Kong Mid-Autumn Festival clothing! In 2011, this activity was listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by China, ensuring its continuation.

    4. More Moon Mythology

    Dragon for Festival

    Do you know what kind of animal lives on the moon in Chinese mythology?

    In Chinese mythology, the animal that lives the moon is a rabbit. We call it Moon Rabbit, and it keeps Chang’e company. Scientifically, the distribution of the light and dark areas of the moon’s surface seems to create the image of a rabbit.

    5. Vocabulary to Know for the Mid-Autumn Festival

    Snowy Mooncakes

    Here’s some vocabulary you need to know for the Mid-autumn festival in Hong Kong!

    • 中秋節 (zung1 cau1 zit3) — Mid-Autumn Festival
    • 月餅 (jyut6 beng2) — mooncake
    • 冰皮月餅 (bing1 pei2 jyut6 beng2) — snowy mooncake
    • 月兔 (jyut6 tou3) — Moon rabbit
    • 賞月 (soeng2 jyut2) — moon watching
    • 蓮蓉 (lin4 jung4) — lotus seed paste
    • 燈籠 (dang1 lung4) — lantern
    • 后羿 (hau6 ngai6) — Houyi
    • 滿月 (mun5 jyut2) — full moon
    • 蛋黃 (daan6 wong2) — egg yolk
    • 嫦娥 (soeng4 ngo4) — Chang’e

    To hear each of these Cantonese vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Mid-Autumn Festival vocabulary list!

    Conclusion

    We hope you enjoyed learning about the Cantonese Mid-Autumn Festival with us! Let us know in the comments if you have any astrology-related holidays in your country, and how you celebrate. We look forward to hearing from you!

    To continue learning about Cantonese culture and studying the language, explore CantoneseClass101.com. We provide an array of learning tools for every learner, at every level:

    • Insightful blog posts on a variety of cultural and language-related topics
    • Free vocabulary lists covering a range of topics and themes
    • Podcasts to improve your listening and pronunciation skills
    • Mobile apps so you can learn Cantonese anywhere, on your own time
    • Much, much more!

    If you’re interested in taking a more one-on-one approach to your language-learning, be sure to upgrade to Premium Plus. Doing so will give you access to your own personal Cantonese tutor who will help you develop a personalized plan based on your needs and goals. Yes, really!

    Cantonese is one of the most difficult languages to learn, so we commend you for your effort and determination! At CantoneseClass101, we believe that you really can master the language—and we want to be here to help every step of the way!

    Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! Enjoy some mooncakes for us. ;)

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    Hong Kong Body Gestures

    Thumbnail

    Have you ever heard of Albert Mehrabian’s famous “7%-38%-55% Rule“? According to this rule, tones of voice and body language account for 38% and 55% of personal communication respectively, with words taking up the remaining 7%. Non-verbal language is truly the key to successful communication. Therefore, in addition to teaching you new Cantonese words and phrases here at CantoneseClass101.com, we’re here to teach you the common Hong Kong body gestures to help you better communicate with locals! Truly, Cantonese nonverbal communication is just as important, if not more so, as the words you speak.

    We’re introducing four different types of body gestures here, namely:

    • Body Posture
    • Hand Gestures
    • Facial Expressions
    • Physical Movement

    To help you better master this nonverbal communication in Hong Kong, we’ve also included photos/videos and examples below. Let’s start now! Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet - How to Improve Your Cantonese Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

    1. Body Posture
    2. Hand Gestures
    3. Facial Expressions
    4. Physical Movement
    5. Gestures You should Avoid
    6. Bonus: How to Count Numbers in Hong Kong
    7. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101 can Help You Learn More Cantonese

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    1. Body Posture

    1- Defensive

    Woman Crossing Her Arms

    • How: Cross your arms across your chest.
    • When: To express distrust or that you’re unengaged; to tell someone that you’re annoyed or offended
    • Example: If someone has been talking about something uninteresting for a long time and you want to subtly let him or her know, you can cross your arms.
    • Notes: It’s best not to use this posture in business settings as crossing your arms is considered a negative and unprofessional posture.


    2. Hand Gestures

    Cantonese Hand Gestures

    1- Good

    Thumbs Up

    • How: Thumbs-up (think of the “like” button on Facebook); one hand only (can be left or right)
    • When: To show that you think something is excellent, the best, or super good
    • Example: When your friend makes an excellent suggestion on what to do this weekend, you can simply give him or her a thumbs-up to show that you like the idea.
    • Notes: It’s a widely used positive hand gesture in Hong Kong, both in business and casual settings.

    2- OK

    OK Sign

    • How: Make a circle with your thumb and index finger; the three fingers left should remain upright; one hand only (can be left or right)
    • When: To show approval; to express that everything is going smoothly and is fine; to express “yes” or “well understood”
    • Example: When you’re asked to do laundry, you can give an “OK” hand gesture to signal that you’ll do it.
    • Notes: It’s a very common hand gesture in Hong Kong, whether in the workplace, school, or among friends and family.

    3- Bad

    Thumbs Down

    • How: Thumbs-down; one hand only (can be left or right)
    • When: To express dissatisfaction; to tell people that something’s not good or is of low quality
    • Example: If your kid broke your phone, you may show him a “bad” hand gesture to let him or her know that this is defintely not good.
    • Notes: This is less common than the “good” and “OK” hand gestures, as it’s best in general to avoid negative gestures.

    4- Fist and Palm Salute

    Fist and Palm Salute

    • How:
      Male: right-hand half-fist, then hold the right hand in front of your chest with your left hand
      Female: left-hand half-fist, then hold the left hand in front of your chest with your right hand
    • When: To congratulate someone; to wish someone luck
    • Example: When you visit a friend in Hong Kong during the Chinese New Year, you can first say to him 恭喜發財 (Pronunciation: gung1 hei2 faat3 coi4) meaning “May you have a prosperous New Year,” and then perform this gesture.
    • Notes: This hand gesture is mostly used during celebrations, such as Chinese New Year and weddings.

    5- Thank You (Restaurant Only)

    • How: Tap your fingers several times by your cup
    • When: To say thank you when someone’s pouring tea for you at a Chinese restaurant
    • Example: If your friends are pouring tea for you during yum cha, you can simply tap your fingers several times by your cup as a means of thanking them.
    • Notes: This should only be used in Chinese restaurants (dim sum place). If you want to know more about this unique and funny hand gesture in Hong Kong, visit the Loop.


    3. Facial Expressions

    1- Respect / Submission

    Girl Looking Downcast

    • How: Lower your eyes
    • When: To show someone that you respect or obey him or her
    • Example: If your boss is angry and you think it’s wiser to be (or pretend to be) obedient, you can lower your eyes when he or she is facing you.
    • Notes: When you’re greeting someone older than you that you’re not very close with, you may also want to lower your eyes to show respect. Eye contact meaning in Hong Kong has a lot to do with respect.


    4. Physical Movement

    When it comes to body gestures in Hong Kong culture, note that even though it’s typical in Hong Kong to stand close to each other during conversations, body contact doesn’t occur. Being touchy isn’t part of the Hong Kong culture. You’ll be seen as rude and impolite if you excessively touch another person during a conversation in Hong Kong.

    Avoid hugging or kissing another person, or patting someone on the back. This is especially true if you’re interacting with someone older than you or someone in a position of authority—it will be perceived as offensive and rude. Hugging and kissing are quite rare, even if it’s when running into a close friend. Nodding your head is the most common way to quickly greet someone, and an acceptable Hong Kong body gesture to a close friend is a little pat on the arm.

    1- Hello (Business Settings)

    • How: A little handshake
    • When: To greet someone, usually in business settings
    • Example: You can give a little handshake when you’re first introduced to a colleague.
    • Notes: This is usually used in business settings or for people we’re not close with. There isn’t any typical body gesture for greetings with friends.

    2- Beg / Pray

    Boy Kneeling

    • How: Kneel down with both feet on the ground
    • When: To beg for something; to pray
    • Example: If you’ve made a terrible mistake, you can kneel down to beg for forgiveness.
    • Notes: This gesture signifies a huge degree of submission. Avoid using it unless you’re praying or you really need to beg for something.

    3- Respect

    Woman Holding Out a Gift

    • How: Use both hands to hand over or receive something from someone
    • When: To hand over something; to present a gift; to receive something
    • Example: During a gift exchange session in a Christmas party, hand the present you’ve carefully prepared to your friends with both hands.
    • Notes: You should always hand over or receive things with both hands; using one hand is considered rude and impolite.


    5. Gestures You should Avoid

    Here’s an all-important list of Hong Kong body gestures that are considered rude, which you should avoid as much as possible!

    1- Pointing to Someone with only Your Index Finger

    Boss Pointing at Employee

    • When: To refer to someone
    • Notes: This is considered disrespectful and impolite; you should keep your hand open if you want to refer to someone.

    2- Keep Only Your Middle Finger Up

    • When: To express anger or frustration; equal to foul language
    • Notes: This is very disrespectful and impolite.

    3- Winking Your Eyes at Someone

    Woman Winking

    • When: To flirt; to show disrespect
    • Notes: Winking your eyes in Hong Kong doesn’t look cool; instead it’s a sign of disrespect and should be avoided.

    4- Crossing Your Leg over the Knee and Pointing Your Foot in Someone Else’s Direction

    • When: To demonstrate superiority; to slight someone
    • Notes: It’s impolite and should be avoided in most situations.


    6. Bonus: How to Count Numbers in Hong Kong

    • One = Hold only the index finger upright.
    • Two = Add the middle finger to the index finger. This is also a common hand gesture used when posing for a picture.
    • Three = Same as “OK.” Make a circle with your thumb and index finger; the three fingers left should remain upright.
    • Four = Keep all four fingers up with the thumb folded in.
    • Five = Open your palm when all fingers are up.
    • Six Gesture

    • Six = Curl in your index, middle, and ring fingers only, to indicate six.
    • Seven Gesture

    • Seven = Keep your thumb and index finger outstretched; pointing down looks like a number seven.
    • Eight = Add your middle finger to the number seven sign and point up.
    • Nine = Bend the index finger like a hook with other fingers closed.
    • Ten = Open the palm of both hands as two 5s gives you ten. You can also make a cross using only your index fingers.


    7. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101 can Help You Learn More Cantonese

    After mastering the common Hong Kong body gestures, it’s time to learn more Cantonese to make sure that you can communicate in Hong Kong with the correct verbal and non-verbal languages. With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, either through your mobile apps, desktop software, or even our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture.

    We’ve delivered until now more than 750,000,000 lessons to thousands of happy students from all around the globe. You can learn Cantonese with over 1060 audio and video lessons delivered by our knowledgeable and energetic hosts, detailed PDF lesson notes, abundance of vocabulary learning tools and spaced repetition flashcards, and a lively community to discuss the lessons with fellow learners. What’re you waiting for? Download our lessons, enjoy our audio and video files, and start learning now! Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet - How to Improve Your Cantonese Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

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    The Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong

    HongKongers believe that once a year, hell’s gates open, allowing the spirits to wander the earth. They call this day The Hungry Ghost Festival (or simply Ghost Festival). In this article, you’ll learn about the Hungry Ghost Festival origin and how Hong Kong observes this holiday today.

    Hong Kong is a place rooted in strong religious and spiritual belief, and the Hungry Ghost Festival Hong Kong observes is one of many holidays to vividly portray this. Come along with us at CantoneseClass101.com and delve into some of Hong Kong’s most fascinating beliefs and traditions. After all, culture immersion is one of the best ways to master any language!

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    1. What is the Hungry Ghost Festival?

    So, what is the Hungry Ghost Festival history? Where did it come from?

    According to Chinese mythology, the very gates of hell are open during the Hungry Ghost Festival. This allows the spirits to enter the living world and roam it until hell’s gates close again.

    Regarding the origin of the Ghost Festival, there are actually two theories: One that says Buddhism, and another that says Taoism. Both religions have records of the festival and particular ceremonies; during the Tang dynasty, the Ghost Festival was even observed in mixed customs.

    Do you know that according to the Hungry Ghost Festival story, Yama, king of the underworld, is the guardian of the gate of hell? Yama has the “book of life and death” that records all men’s lifespans. His subordinates Ox-Head and Horse-Face escort the soul to the underworld after death.

    2. The Hungry Ghost Festival Date

    Souls Wandering in the Moonlight

    The date of the Hungry Ghost Festival varies each year on the Gregorian calendar. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

    • 2019: August 15
    • 2020: September 2
    • 2021: August 21
    • 2022: August 12
    • 2023: August 30
    • 2024: August 17
    • 2025: September 6
    • 2026: August 27
    • 2027: August 16
    • 2028: September 2

    3. Ghost Festival Traditions in Hong Kong

    Around the Ghost Festival, some people worship their ancestors at home in a display of filial piety, as well as wish for their ancestors’ blessing. In this respect, some people also burn incense, joss paper, and sacrificial offerings (or Hungry Ghost Festival food) on the roadside in order to feed and fulfill the wandering soul. This ensures that they don’t become poor, hungry ghosts, and this act appeases the grudges of those who died unjustly so they can rest in peace.

    Some people may think that this festival is absurd, but for Chinese people, there’s a saying: “Better believe it than ignore it.”

    Another tip is that HongKongers usually use the phrase “dirty things” when referring to ghosts. For example, “I see dirty things” means “I see ghosts.”

    4. Traditional Taboos

    Lighting Candles

    During the Hungry Ghost Festival month, there are a lot of taboos:

    • Don’t stay out or up late at night, because ghosts’ power flourishes in the middle of the night.
    • Don’t walk close to the wall, because this is where ghosts like to lean.
    • Don’t open an umbrella indoors, because this is etiquette when paying respect to the dead—it might invite ghosts into the house.
    • Don’t go swimming at night, because it’s easy for ghosts to pull on your legs and drown you.
    • Don’t get married, travel, or move.

    In short, don’t do any important things.

    5. Useful Vocabulary for the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong

    Burning Incense

    Here’s some vocabulary you should know for the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong!

    • 祖先 (zou2 sin1) — ancestor
    • 盂蘭節 (jyu4 laan4 zit3) — Ghost Festival
    • 閻羅王 (jim4 lo4 wong4) — Yama
    • 孤魂野鬼 (gu1 wan4 je5 gwai2) — wandering soul
    • 素食 (sou3 sik6) — vegetarian meal
    • 燒包 (siu1 baau1) — varieties of paper items burned for the deceased
    • 祭品 (zai3 ban2) — sacrificial offering
    • 陰司紙 (jam1 si1 zi2) — Joss paper
    • 祭奠 (zai3 din2) — hold a memorial ceremony for the deceased
    • 孝道 (haau3 dou6) — filial piety
    • 燒香 (siu1 hoeng1) — burn incense

    To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Hungry Ghost Festival vocabulary list!

    Conclusion: Choose CantoneseClass101 for Your Cantonese Learning!

    As you can see, the Hungry Ghost Festival is a time of healthy fear for HongKongers, and the perfect occasion to honor the dead. Is there a holiday in your country for honoring the dead? Tell us about it in the comments!

    To continue learning about Cantonese culture and the language, explore CantoneseClass101.com and take advantage of our fun and effective learning tools! Read more insightful blog posts like this one, study up with our free Cantonese vocabulary lists, and download our mobile apps to learn Cantonese anywhere and at your own pace! By upgrading to a Premium Plus account, you can also learn using our MyTeacher program!

    We hope that learning about one of Hong Kong’s more interesting holidays gives you extra encouragement to continue on your language-learning journey! We know that Cantonese mastery is no easy feat, but your hard work and determination, paired with our constant support, will bring you success! Keep at it! :)

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    The Complete Guide for Cantonese Internet Slang and More

    If you chat with your Cantonese-speaking friends online or use social media, such as Facebook, you might struggle to understand Cantonese internet slang. However, most Cantonese slang words aren’t exclusive to the internet; you may also come across them in magazines and in daily conversations. Thus, it’s vital to learn Cantonese text slang and internet slang.

    The problem is that your teachers and textbooks won’t teach you this Hong Kong slang because they aren’t official Cantonese. Cantonese slang might be very confusing to language-learners because they were developed very uniquely.

    Don’t worry, though—here at CantoneseClass101.com, we’ll provide you with a complete guide for popular Cantonese internet and text slang.

    Ready to learn Cantonese internet slang? What are you waiting for? Let’s delve into everything you need to know about internet slang in the Cantonese language; we’ll even show you Cantonese text slang in English words!

    Table of Contents

    1. About Cantonese Internet and Text Slang
    2. Top Eight Hong Kong Text Slang with Numbers or Cantonese Words
    3. Top Eight Hong Kong Internet Slang Terms with English Characters or Words
    4. Bonus: How Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority Tries to Catch Up with the Trend
    5. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

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    1. About Cantonese Internet and Text Slang

    Before you learn Cantonese internet slang specifics, we’ll go over the fundamentals of what slang in Cantonese is.

    “Slang” is 潮語 (ciu4 jyu5) in Cantonese.

    Internet and social media have become a part of everyday life nowadays, especially among the younger generation. If you have Hong Kong friends on Facebook, Instagram, or online forums, you might find it difficult to figure out what they’re saying most of the time due to the heavy usage of 潮語.

    What makes Cantonese slang difficult is that HongKongers mix Cantonese with English (some would call it Chinglish or Kongish), and written Cantonese with spoken Cantonese, all the time. Without any knowledge of Hong Kong culture and popular culture, a language learner might not be able to make sense of a sentence with 潮語 (ciu4 jyu5) in it.

    To help you better understand Cantonese slang, we’ll be introducing the 潮語 (ciu4 jyu5) in two separate categories: one with numbers or Cantonese words only, and the other one with English characters or words.


    2. Top Eight Hong Kong Text Slang with Numbers or Cantonese Words

    If you’re searching for useful Cantonese slang, here’s a list of the top eight most popular internet slang with numbers or Cantonese words. Hopefully, this list of Cantonese slang words helps you find your footing in this often confusing world of foreign internet talk!

    1- 巴打

    Meaning: Brother (to address another man, usually on online forums)
    Romanization: baa1 daa2

    巴打 (baa1 daa2) mimics the sound of “brother.” Many male online forum users use 巴打 (baa1 daa2) to address each other, to suggest that they’re as close as brothers.

    • Example Sentence: 巴打,你食咗飯未呀?
    • Romanization: baa1 daa2, nei5 sik6 zo2 faan6 mei6 aa3
    • Meaning: Brother, have you had lunch yet?

    2- 絲打

    Meaning: Sister (to address another lady, usually on online forums)
    Romanization: si1 daa2

    絲打 (si1 daa2) mimics the sound of “sister.” Many female online forum users use 絲打 (si1 daa2) to address each other, to suggest that they’re as close as sisters.

    • Example Sentence: 絲打,你食咗飯未呀?
    • Romanization: si1 daa2, nei5 sik6 zo2 faan6 mei6 aa3
    • Meaning: Sister, have you had lunch yet?

    High Five

    3- 十卜

    Meaning: Support; Endorse
    Romanization: sap6 buk1

    十卜 (sap6 buk1) mimics the sound of “support.” Many online forum users use 十卜 (sap6 buk1) to show support of a certain incident or a certain view.

    • Example Sentence: 我十卜呢件事。
    • Romanization: ngo5 sap6 buk1 ni1 gin6 si6
    • Meaning: I support this incident.

    4- 粉絲

    Meaning: Fans
    Romanization: fan2 si1

    粉絲 (fan2 si1) mimics the sound of “fans,” which also means “fans,” or someone who’s enthusiastically devoted to something or somebody.

    • Example Sentence: 我係艾迪瑞德曼嘅粉絲。
    • Romanization: ngo5 hai6 ngaai6 dik6 seoi6 dak1 maan6 ge3 fan2 si1
    • Meaning: I am a fan of Eddie Redmayne.

    Three People Saying Goodbye

    5- 88

    Meaning: Bye
    Romanization: baat3 baat3

    88 (baat3 baat3) mimics the sound of “bye bye,” which also means “bye.”

    • Example Sentence: 我要走先啦,88。
    • Romanization: ngo5 jiu3 zau2 sin1 laa1, baat3 baat3
    • Meaning: I need to leave first, bye.

    c6- 潛水

    Meaning: Disappear; Inactive
    Romanization: cim4 seoi2

    潛水 (cim4 seoi2) literally translates as “diving,” but in a Cantonese slang context, it means “disappear.” This is because if you’ve dived into the water, you won’t be visible on the surface.

    • Example Sentence: 我喺個WhatsApp group潛咗水好耐。
    • Romanization: ngo5 hai2 go3 WhatsApp group cim4 zo2 seoi2 hou2 noi6
    • Meaning: I have been inactive in this WhatsApp Group for a long time.

    A Man Jumps

    7- 屈機

    Meaning: Out of the league
    Romanization: wat1 gei1

    屈機 (wat1 gei1) means “out of the league,” with an emphasis on one’s intelligence and ability.

    • Example Sentence: 佢地咁屈機,贏梗。
    • Romanization: keoi5 dei6 gam3 wat1 gei1, jeng4 gang2
    • Meaning: It’s a sure win for them since they are totally out of the league.

    8- 單身狗

    Meaning: Bachelor
    Romanization: daan1 san1 gau2

    單身狗 (daan1 san1 gau2) literally translates as “single dog,” which refers to men who are single (in a slightly negative sense).

      Example Sentence: 我呢啲單身狗梗係過 lonely Christmas。
      Romanization: ngo5 ni1 di1 daan1 san1 gau2 gang2 hai6 gwo3 lonely Christmas
      Meaning: A single guy like me of course would be spending Christmas alone.


    3. Top Eight Hong Kong Internet Slang Terms with English Characters or Words

    A Couple Holding Hands

    1- BF

    Meaning: Boyfriend

    BF is the abbreviation of “boyfriend.”

    • Example Sentence: 今晚我同我BF食飯。
    • Romanization: gam1 maan5 ngo5 tung4 ngo5 BF sik6 faan6
    • Meaning: I will be having dinner with my boyfriend tonight.

    2- GF

    Meaning: Girlfriend

    GF is the abbreviation of “girlfriend.”

    • Example Sentence: 我一陣要去搵我GF。
    • Romanization: ngo5 jat1 zan6 jiu3 heoi3 wan2 ngo5 GF
    • Meaning: I need to meet my girlfriend in a short while.

    3- FF

    Meaning: Fantasize

    FF originates from a science fantasy role-playing video game called “Final Fantasy.” In Hong Kong, FF is used to describe someone who fantasizes too much.

    • Example Sentence: 你唔好FF咁多。
    • Romanization: nei5 m4 hou2 FF gam3 do1
    • Meaning: You shouldn’t fantasize too much.

    4- -able

    -able is a suffix that we add to a word to make it an adjective.

    • Example Sentence: 呢個女仔真係GF-able。
    • Romanization: ni1 go3 neoi5 zai2 zan1 hai6 GFable
    • Meaning: This girl is desirably suitable to become my girlfriend.

    5- -ing and -ed

    As Cantonese doesn’t have tenses, we sometimes add -ing and -ed to suggest the time of the action.

    • Example: 通頂ing
    • Romanization: tung1 deng2 ing
    • Meaning: Working overnight
    • Example: 通頂ed
    • Romanization: tung1 deng2 ded
    • Meaning: Worked overnight
    • Example: 返工ing
    • Romanization: faan1 gung1 ing
    • Meaning: On my way to work

    A Boy Who’s Dropped His Jaw

    6- O嘴

    Meaning: Shocked
    Romanization: O zeoi2

    “O” is an English character and 嘴 (zeoi2) means mouth. Together, O嘴 (O zeoi2) is “shocked” because your mouth would be wide open and look like an “O” if you were in shock.

    • Example Sentence: 聽到單新聞我O咗嘴。
    • Romanization: teng1 dou2 daan1 san1 man2 ngo5 O zo2 zeoi2
    • Meaning: I dropped my jaw when I heard the news.

    7- GG

    Meaning: Screw up; Game over

    Originally, GG stood for “good game,” but after a while, people started to mistakenly think that it means “game over.” Right now, people usually use GG to describe things with a gloomy outcome.

    • Example Sentence: 我唔記得我約咗GF,今次GG喇。
    • Romanization: ngo5 m4 gei3 dak1 ngo5 joek3 zo2 GF, gam1 ci3 GG laa3
    • Meaning: I forgot my date with my girlfriend, I am so screwed up.

    8- DM

    Meaning: Direct message

    DM stands for “direct message.”

    • Example Sentence: 你可唔可以DM啲細節俾我呀?
    • Romanization: nei5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 DM di1 sai3 zit3 bei2 ngo5 aa3
    • Meaning: Can you send over the details via direct message?


    4. Bonus: How Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority Tries to Catch Up with the Trend

    Thought slang is only for informal settings and should never appear in exams, let alone a public exam? To many’s surprise, Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority tried to catch up with the trends and included Cantonese slang in the HKCEE Hong Kong Chinese language public examination (similar to GCSE in the United Kingdom).

    In one of the Chinese exam papers, the sentence “見鬼勿O嘴,潛水怕屈機” (gin3 gwai2 mat6 O zeoi2, cim4 seoi2 paa3 wat1 gei1) was included in the reading materials. This sentence contains three of the Cantonese slang words that we introduced above: O嘴 (O zeoi2), 潛水 (cim4 seoi2) and 屈機 (wat1 gei1).

    Unfortunately, the endeavor of catching up with the trends by the Authority wasn’t appreciated by the candidates nor the general public, as this sentence barely makes sense.

    This incident has quickly became the talk of the town, and in fact, “潛水怕屈機” (cim4 seoi2 paa3 wat1 gei1) itself has become a new slang word to laugh at things that don’t make sense. Some even wrote a song titled “潛水怕屈機” (cim4 seoi2 paa3 wat1 gei1).


    5. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

    I hope you found the Cantonese slang words introduced above fun and entertaining!

    Do you want to further level up your Cantonese after mastering these Cantonese slang words? With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through your mobile apps, desktop software, and our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture.

    Until now, we’ve delivered more than 750,000,000 lessons to thousands of happy students from all around the globe. You can learn Cantonese with over 1060 audio and video lessons delivered by our knowledgeable and energetic hosts, detailed PDF lesson notes, an abundance of vocabulary learning tools, spaced repetition flashcards, and a lively community to discuss the lessons with fellow learners. What are you waiting for? Download our lessons, enjoy our audio and video files, and start learning now!

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    10 Common Cantonese Words with no English Equivalent

    You’re bound to come across untranslatable words in learning Cantonese, and understanding untranslatable words will help you know more about the culture of a place and the mindset of its native speakers. It also facilitates conversation with locals. What are you waiting for? Let’s check out the ten most common untranslatable Cantonese words below together!

    Table of Contents

    1. 面 (min6 or min2)
    2. 加油 (gaa1 jau2)
    3. 人山人海 (jan4 saan1 jan4 hoi2)
    4. 老屎忽 (lou5 si2 fat1)
    5. 熱氣 (jit6 hei3)
    6. 手尾 (sau2 mei5)
    7. 走數 (zau2 sou3)
    8. 無交帶 (mou5 gaau1 daai3)
    9. 圍威喂 (wai4 wai1 wai3)
    10. 舉手之勞 (geoi2 sau2 zi1 lou4)
    11. Bonus: Learn More Untranslatable Words from around the World
    12. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101 can Help You Learn More Cantonese

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    1. 面 (min6 or min2)

    Bowing

    1- Literal Translation

    面 (min6) literally translates as “face” in English.

    2- Meaning

    This may be one of the more beautiful Cantonese untranslatable words. 面 (min2) describes one’s status, dignity, and integrity. You can also refer to 面 (min2) as the feeling of being respected and honored by others.

    3- Example Situation

    There are several ways to use the word 面 (min2):

    • 畀面 (bei2 min2):
      • Literal translation: keep face
      • Meaning: hold back (usually when criticizing someone) so as to make that person feel respected
    • 有面 (jau5 min2):
      • Literal translation: have face
      • Meaning: feeling respected and proud
    • 冇面 (mou5 min2):
      • Literal translation: no face
      • Meaning: lose face; feeling disrespected; lowering one’s credibility and image

    4- Usage in a Sentence

    Example 1: 我鬧佢嗰陣完全冇畀面。

    • Romanization: ngo5 naau6 keoi5 go2 zan5 jyun4 cyun4 mou5 bei2 min2.
    • Meaning: I didn’t hold back to make him feel respected at all when I scolded him.

    Example 2: 連大老闆都出席,佢超有面。

    • Romanization: lin4 daai6 lou5 baan2 dou1 ceot1 zik6, keoi5 ciu1 jau5 min2.
    • Meaning: Even the big boss is here; he should be feeling respected and proud.

    Example 3: 佢冇話我知搞到我冇面。

    • Romanization: keoi5 mou5 waa6 ngo5 zi1 gaau2 dou3 ngo5 mou5 min2.
    • Meaning: He didn’t inform me, which makes me lose face.

    5- Additional Notes

    (min6 or min2) is a crucial concept that you should learn, especially if you want to do business with locals here. 畀面 (bei2 min2) and making your business partners 有面 (jau5 min2) will help you foster your relationships with them.

    (min2) is closely tied with a number of unique concepts governing the culture of Hong Kong and Chinese communities: 關係 (gwaan1 hai6) or “relationship,” 中庸 (zung1 jung4) which is a prevailing mindset from Confucianism of “not going for the extremes,” and 人情 (jan4 cing4) which means a sense of human touch and affection/owing someone a favor. Feel free to click the above links if you want to know more.


    2. 加油 (gaa1 jau2)

    Man in Suit Thumbs Up

    1- Literal Translation

    (gaa1) is “add” and 油 (jau2) is “oil.” Together, the phrase literally means “injecting fuel into a tank.”

    2- Meaning

    You can use the word 加油 (gaa1 jau2) when you want to encourage someone to keep his or her spirit up. It’s similar to “come on,” “keep it up,” “you can do it,” “cheer up,” and “good luck” in English. However, instead of focusing on the outcome, 加油 (gaa1 jau2) focuses more on the effort one puts into work and the endurance of their spirit.

    3- Example Situation

    • To cheer someone up when he or she has just encountered a setback
    • To wish someone good luck when he or she is taking an exam soon
    • To encourage a colleague when he or she is meeting the big boss

    4- Usage in a Sentence

    We usually use the phrase by itself.

    Example 1:
    Your friend: I am having an important interview this afternoon.
    You: 加油 (gaa1 jau2)!

    Example 2:
    You: I am going on a date with my crush tonight.
    Your friend: 加油 (gaa1 jau2)!

    5- Additional Notes

    加油 (gaa1 jau2) is the origin of the “Hong Kong English” expression “add oil,” which shares the same meaning as 加油 (gaa1 jau2). We use both 加油 (gaa1 jau2) and “add oil” interchangeably in our daily lives. Even though “add oil” is grammatically incorrect and probably makes no sense to a native English speaker, the phrase has recently been added to the Oxford English Dictionary.


    3. 人山人海 (jan4 saan1 jan4 hoi2)

    Crowd by a Metro Train

    1- Literal Translation

    人山人海 (jan4 saan1 jan4 hoi2) literally translates to “people mountain people sea.”

    2- Meaning

    人山人海 (jan4 saan1 jan4 hoi2) is a metaphor describing huge crowds of people: “There are so many people here and it looks like mountains and the sea from afar.”

    人山人海 (jan4 saan1 jan4 hoi2) essentially means “crowded” in English.

    3- Example Situation

    • To describe the number of people in a parade
    • To emphasize the crowds in a market

    4- Usage in a Sentence

    Example 1: 呢度人山人海。

    • Romanization: le1 dou6 jan4 saan1 jan4 hoi2.
    • Meaning: There are so many people here.

    Example 2: 個Party人山人海。

    • Romanization: go3 Party jan4 saan1 jan4 hoi2.
    • Meaning: The party is so crowded.

    5- Additional Notes

    人山人海 (jan4 saan1 jan4 hoi2) is the origin of another “Hong Kong English” expression “People Mountain People Sea, on top of “add oil” introduced above.


    4. 老屎忽 (lou5 si2 fat1)

    Boss Holding Papers

    1- Literal Translation

    (lou5) is “old” and 屎忽 (si2 fat1) is “bottom.” 老屎忽 (lou5 si2 fat1) can also be written in Hong Kong English as “old seafood.”

    2- Meaning

    老屎忽 (lou5 si2 fat1) refers to people who think they’re superior because of their seniority. These people are usually snobbish and narrow-minded as well.

    3- Example Situation

    • To describe your big boss, who’s reluctant to adopt new ideas and technology
    • To describe older colleagues who jeer at or tease you just because they’re senior to you

    4- Usage in a Sentence

    Example: 個老屎忽喺開會嗰陣屈我。

    • Romanization: go3 lou5 si2 fat1 hai2 hoi1 wui2 go2 zan6 wat1 ngo5.
    • Meaning: That old seafood (the snobbish and narrow-minded guy) framed me up in the meeting.


    5. 熱氣 (jit6 hei3)

    Chicken Wings

    1- Literal Translation

    熱氣 (jit6 hei3) literally translates to “hot air.”

    2- Meaning

    This phrase is related to a concept in Chinese medicine. The symptoms that indicate a person is 熱氣 (jit6 hei3) include a sore throat, acne, mouth ulcer, nose bleeding, and sore eyes.

    3- Example Situation

    • To describe a person who’s having symptoms including a sore throat, acne, mouth ulcer, nose bleeding, and sore eyes
    • To describe food that can lead to the above symptoms (e.g. spicy food, fried food)

    4- Usage in a Sentence

    Example 1: 我呢排好熱氣。

    • Romanization: ngo5 le1 paai4 hou2 jit6 hei3.
    • Meaning: I am feeling “hot air.”

    Example 2: 薯條好熱氣。

    • Romanization: syu4 tiu2 hou2 jit6 hei3.
    • Meaning: French fries are really “hot air.”


    6. 手尾 (sau2 mei5)

    File Folders

    1- Literal Translation

    手尾 (sau2 mei5) literally translates to “hand tail.”

    2- Meaning

    手尾 (sau2 mei5) refers to work or other stuff that’s left behind. It can also be used to describe a person who’s tidy and responsible.

    3- Example Situation

    • To refer to the work that a colleague left behind
    • To describe a friend who didn’t pick up his or her own rubbish

    4- Usage in a Sentence

    Example 1: 成日要人幫你執手尾,點解你唔做好份內事?

    • Romanization: sing4 jat6 jiu3 jan4 bong1 nei5 zap1 sau2 mei5, dim2 gaai2 nei5 m4 zou6 hou2 fan6 noi6 si6.
    • Meaning: Others always have to do extra follow-up for you, how come you don’t finish your work properly?

    Example 2: 你份人好冇手尾。

    • Romanization: nei5 fan6 jan4 hou2 mou5 sau2 mei5.
    • Meaning: You are irresponsible and always get leftover work / stuff that others need to follow up on .


    7. 走數 (zau2 sou3)

    Woman with Crossed Fingers

    1- Literal Translation

    走數 (zau2 sou3) literally translates to “go number.”

    2- Meaning

    走數 (zau2 sou3) describes a person not honoring a promise, usually out of fear or terror. It’s similar to “chicken out” and “eating one’s word” in English.

    3- Example Situation

    • To refer to a friend who promised to dance in front of a crowd but changed his mind last minute
    • To call your boss who failed to honor his promise of promoting you

    4- Usage in a Sentence

    Example 1: 佢走數呀,明明話會唱但係最尾都冇。

    • Romanization: keoi5 zau2 sou3 aa1, ming4 ming4 waa6 wui2 coeng3 daan6 hai6 zeoi3 mei5 dou1 mou5.
    • Meaning: He chickened out. He promised to sing but in the end he didn’t.

    Example 2: 我老細走數,話會升我但係最尾都冇。

    • Romanization: ngo5 lou5 sai3 zau2 sou3, waa6 wui2 sing1 ngo5 daan6 hai6 zeoi3 mei5 dou1 mou5.
    • Meaning: My boss ate his words, he didn’t promote me even though he promised to.


    8. 無交帶 (mou5 gaau1 daai3)

    Man with Tape Over his Mouth

    1- Literal Translation

    無交帶 (mou5 gaau1 daai3) literally translates to “no give bring.”

    2- Meaning

    無交帶 (mou5 gaau1 daai3) describes a person who failed to update someone on the latest progress when he or she should have. It’s similar to “irresponsible,” “sloppy,” and “negligent” in English.

    3- Example Situation

    • To describe a person who’s irresponsible and failed to update his or her colleagues on the project before he or she left for vacation

    4- Usage in a Sentence

    Example: 佢做人無交帶,唔適合做經理。

    • Romanization: keoi5 zou6 jan4 mou5 gaau1 daai3, m4 sik1 hap6 zou6 ging1 lei5.
    • Meaning: He’s not suitable for the position of team manager as he is irresponsible and sloppy.


    9. 圍威喂 (wai4 wai1 wai3)

    A Woman Apart from a Larger Group

    1- Literal Translation

    Literally, it means nothing but is a different tonation of the word wai.

    2- Meaning

    圍威喂 (wai4 wai1 wai3) describes a situation where things are done in a very loose manner within a closed group and they won’t let outsiders know what’s going on.

    3- Example Situation

    To describe how politics or fake charities work
    To refer to a terrible project where some groupmates team up against others and dominate the decision-making process

    4- Usage in a Sentence

    Example: 佢地成班圍威喂無人鍾意佢地。

    • Romanization: keoi5 dei6 sing4 baan1 wai4 wai1 wai3 mou4 jan4 zung1 ji3 keoi5 dei6.
    • Meaning: No one likes them because they are very cliquey.


    10. 舉手之勞 (geoi2 sau2 zi1 lou4)

    1- Literal Translation

    舉手之勞 (geoi2 sau2 zi1 lou4) literally translates to “raising hand’s work.”

    2- Meaning

    舉手之勞 (geoi2 sau2 zi1 lou4) is similar to “no trouble at all” and “it was no big deal.” It’s a way to reply to someone who expresses his or her gratitude to you, usually because of the help that you previously offered.

    3- Example Situation

    • To reply to a lady who just thanked you for helping her with math
    • To reply to a man who just thanked you for helping him out with art homework

    4- Usage in a Sentence

    We usually use this phrase by itself.

    Example 1:
    Your friend: Thanks for lending me your book!
    You: 舉手之勞 (geoi2 sau2 zi1 lou4)

    Example 2:
    You: Thanks for fixing the door!
    Your friend: 舉手之勞 (geoi2 sau2 zi1 lou4)


    11. Bonus: Learn More Untranslatable Words from around the World

    Wondering what untranslatable words there are in other countries? Check out our list to find out what they are!


    12. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101 can Help You Learn More Cantonese

    We hope that you found this article on untranslatable words in Cantonese language learning helpful.

    Now that you’ve mastered the common untranslatable Cantonese words, it’s time to move up to the next level! With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, either through your mobile apps, desktop software, or even our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture.

    We’ve delivered until now more than 750,000,000 lessons to thousands of happy students from all around the globe. You can learn Cantonese with over 1060 audio and video lessons delivered by our knowledgeable and energetic hosts, detailed PDF lesson notes, an abundance of vocabulary learning tools and spaced repetition flashcards, and a lively community to discuss the lessons with fellow learners.

    What’re you waiting for? Download our lessons, enjoy our audio and video files, and start learning now! Start with a bonus, and download the Must-Know Beginner Vocabulary PDF for FREE! (Logged-In Member Only)

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    Celebration of British Hong Kong’s Reunification with China

    When did Hong Kong go back to China?

    For Hong Kong, 1997 is one of the most significant years in its history; this is the year that British Hong Kong was reunified with China after many years of British rule. In the article, we’ll be discussing the Hong Kong protests, go more into the history of the question “When was Hong Kong given back to China?” and tell you about the day following Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day.

    In learning about this important holiday in Hong Kong, you’re allowing yourself to better understand the full extent of its culture. With this knowledge in mind, you’re also more likely to succeed in your Cantonese language studies!

    At CantoneseClass101.com, we hope to make your learning journey both fun and informative!

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    1. What is Establishment Day?

    From 1841 to 1997, the British ruled Hong Kong, beginning at the time of the First Opium War fought between the Chinese and the British. The war resulted in China ceding much of the Hong Kong territory to Britain. Later, after the Second Opium War, China gave a ninety-nine-year lease of additional Hong Kong territory to Britain. Once that lease expired, Britain returned all of British Hong Kong back to China.

    Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day is the day to commemorate Hong Kong’s return to China following the Hong Kong handover. For Hong Kong, 1997 was an important year—the year it ceased being British Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong reunification with China commenced.

    Fun fact:

    Do you know Hong Kong’s official name after its return to China?

    Hong Kong’s official name after its return to China is Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Therefore, the Anniversary of Hong Kong’s Reunification with China is also called Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day.

    2. When is Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day?

    Flag Raising Ceremony in Hong Kong

    July 1 marks Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day, which officially begins at exactly 7:58 am.

    3. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day Celebrations

    Learn how the Cantonese celebrate Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day by reading the Cantonese text below. You can find the English translation below it.

    每年7月1日早上7時58分,香港特區行政長官全體行政會議成員及各主要政府官員,都會出席在灣仔金紫荊廣場舉行的升旗儀式,屆時還有警察樂隊奏樂,以及飛行服務隊和紀律部隊在空中和海上敬禮。

    隨後就有慶祝酒會,邀請社會各界人士出席。而到了晚上,維多利亞港會舉行璀璨的煙花匯演。

    自1997年香港主權移交開始,每年都有七一遊行。

    主要由香港民間人權陣線發起,推動香港人權運動及公民社會的發展;最大型的分別是2003年,2004年,以及2012年。

    在2003年香港政府的基本法第二十三條的立法程序激起大量民怨,市民均穿黑色衣服參與遊行,數據顯示遊行人數超過50萬。

    香港人理性和平地表達訴求,終於,第23條立法被擱置,而七一大遊行亦成為了香港人的精神象徵。

    隨後每年的七一大遊行主要為爭取普選,捍衛民主自由,以及改善民生,以非暴力的作風向政府申訴民意。

    香港賽馬會也舉行香港回歸賽馬日,當日除了賽馬外,還有節目攤位和舞台表演,活像一個嘉年華,但只限成人入場。

    On the morning of July 1, at 7:58, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR and all members of the Executive Council and government officials attend the flag-raising ceremony at the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai. There are also performances by the Police Band, and the Flying Service and Disciplinary Forces give salutes from the air and the sea.

    After that, there is a reception that many segments of the community are invited to attend. In the evening, a dazzling fireworks display is held at Victoria Harbour.

    Ever since the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong in 1997, there have been protest demonstrations every year on July 1.

    Most of them are initiated by the Hong Kong Civil Human Rights Front, with the aim of promoting the human rights movement and the development of civil society; the largest-scale demonstrations were in 2003, 2004, and 2012.

    In 2003, the Basic Law Article 23 executed by the Hong Kong Government legislative provoked a large number of grievances; it was said that over 500,000 people participated in the demonstration, all dressed in black.

    Hong Kong people expressed their demands rationally and peacefully, and in the end, the Article 23 legislation was shelved, and the July 1 demonstration became a symbol of the Hong Kong people’s spirit.

    Since then, the July 1 demonstration has continued every year, mainly to demand universal suffrage, democracy, and improvement in people’s livelihoods, all through appealing to the government about public concerns in a non-violent way.

    Hong Kong Reunification Race Day is also held by the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Other than horse racing, there are also game booths and stage performances, just like a carnival, but just for adults.

    4. The Day Following this Holiday

    Cocktail Party

    Did you know that the day following Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day is a market holiday in Hong Kong?

    This means that the Hong Kong Stock Exchange is closed on this day each year. This is significant because the Hong Kong Stock Exchange only takes fifteen such holidays a year.

    5. Important Vocabulary for Establishment Day

    Government Official Speaking

    Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day!

    • 升旗儀式 (sing1 kei4 ji4 sik1) — flag raising ceremony
    • 嘉年華 (gaa1 nin4 waa4) — carnival
    • 香港回歸紀念日 (hoeng1 gong2 wui4 gwai1 gei2 nim6 jat6) — Anniversary of Hong Kong’s Reunification with China
    • 香港特區行政長官 (hoeng1 gong2 dak6 keoi1 hang4 zing3 zoeng2 gun1) — The Chief Executive of Hong Kong
    • 七一遊行 (cat1 jat1 jau4 hang4) — The Hong Kong 1 July protests
    • 香港回歸賽馬日 (hoeng1 gong2 wui4 gwai1 coi3 maa5 jat6) — Hong Kong Reunification Raceday
    • 回歸 (wui4 gwai1) — reunification
    • 成立 (sing4 lap6) — establish
    • 政府 (zing3 fu2) — government
    • 官員 (gun1 jyun4) — government officials
    • 宣誓 (syun1 sai6) — vow
    • 酒會 (zau2 wui5) — cocktail party

    To hear each vocabulary word pronounced, check out our Establishment Day vocabulary list!

    Conclusion

    We hope you enjoyed learning about Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day! Did you learn something new today? Let us know in the comments!

    To continue learning about Hong Kong culture and studying the Cantonese language, visit us at CantoneseClass101.com! We provide an array of fun and effective study tools, including free Cantonese vocabulary lists and more insightful blog posts like this one. By signing up for an account, you can also take advantage of our online community forums; with a Premium Plus account, you can begin using our MyTeacher program, and learn Cantonese one-on-one with your own personal teacher!

    Know that your hard work will soon reap rewards, and you’ll be speaking, reading, and writing Cantonese like a native before you know it!

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    How to Introduce Yourself in Cantonese

    Knowing how to introduce yourself in Cantonese comes in handy when you meet someone new in Hong Kong, whether at a party, a business meeting, a date, or a job interview. Here at CantoneseClass101.com, we’d like to share with you the most common ways of introducing oneself in Hong Kong so that you’re well-prepared for greeting and meeting new friends!

    The most common way to get introduced to a new acquaintance is through a common friend, but remember that it’s also acceptable to walk up to a complete stranger and introduce yourself politely if you have the courage to—awkward perhaps, but definitely not seen as rude. To draw someone’s attention, you can say 你好 (nei5 hou2), and if it’s a business setting, it’s a good idea to add a handshake while speaking as this is a more formal way to introduce yourself in Cantonese.

    Below are some expressions and introductory phrases in Cantonese you can use to introduce yourself. When you’re introducing yourself in Hong Kong, it’s best to smile while speaking and be attentive to your new friend. Can’t wait to learn? Let’s get started!

    Table of Contents

    1. Identify Yourself
    2. Occupation
    3. Age
    4. Countries and Nationalities
    5. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101.com can Help You Learn More Cantonese

    Log


    1. Identify Yourself

    Here is a section on some of the most useful Cantonese introductory phrases for identifying yourself in Cantonese, with an in-depth explanation just for you.

    A: 你好,我叫張曼玉。好高興認識你。
    B: 你好,我係梁朝偉。我都好高興認識你。

    Romanization

    A: nei5 hou2, ngo5 giu3 zoeng1 maan6 juk2. hou2 gou1 hing3 jing6 sik1 nei5.
    B: nei5 hou2, ngo5 hai6 loeng4 ciu4 wai5. ngo5 dou1 hou2 gou1 hing3 jing6 sik1 nei5.

    Translation

    A: Hello, my name is Maggie Cheung. Delighted to make your acquaintance.
    B: Hello, my name is Tony Leung. Delighted to make your acquaintance too.

    Breakdown

    你好 (nei5 hou2)
    The universal greeting in Cantonese is 你好 (nei5 hou2), which literally translates to “you good.” Both of the syllables should be pronounced using rising tones, with the second tone slightly higher than the first. In addition to meaning “Hello,” you can use 你好 (nei5 hou2) to introduce yourself to a new acquaintance or to draw someone’s attention. Oftentimes you can hear waiters and waitresses in Canton restaurants saying 你好 (nei5 hou2) when they’re bringing you food.

    我叫 (ngo5 giu3)
    我 (ngo5) means “I” and the verb 叫 (giu3) means “to call.” Combining both, we have “I’m called.” You can add your name directly after 我叫 (ngo5 giu3). For example, if your name is Michael, you can say “我叫 Michael.”

    我係 (ngo5 hai6)
    係 (hai6) is the speech form of 是 (si6), which means “am.” Combining 我 (ngo5) and 係 (hai6), we have “I am.” You can add your name directly after 我係 (ngo5 hai6). For example, if you’re called Nick, you can say “我係 Nick.”

    好高興認識你 (hou2 gou1 hing3 jing6 sik1 nei5)
    好 (hou2) is “good” and 高興 (gou1 hing3) is “delighted” if used as an adjective. But here, since 好 (hou2) is placed before 高興 (gou1 hing3), it’s used as an adverb instead, meaning “very.” The verb 認識 (jing6 sik1) means “to know” or “to be familiar with,” however, in the context of this phrase, the implication here is “to meet.” Together, 好高興認識你 (hou2 gou1 hing3 jing6 sik1 nei5), literally translates to “very delighted to meet you,” which is equivalent to the English phrases “nice to meet you” and “delighted to make your acquaintance.”

    我都好高興認識你 (ngo5 dou1 hou2 gou1 hing3 jing6 sik1 nei5)
    都 (dou1) means “also” in Cantonese. Adding 都 (dou1) to the sentence is like adding “too” in English. 我都好高興認識你 (ngo5 dou1 hou2 gou1 hing3 jing6 sik1 nei5) means “nice to meet you too.”

    Supplementing Sentences

    Here’s some information on talking about your name in Cantonese!

    Inquiring someone’s name:

    • 你叫咩名?
      • Romanization: nei5 giu3 me1 meng2?
      • Translation: What is your name?
    • 佢叫咩名?
      • Romanization: keoi5 giu3 me1 meng2?
      • Translation: What is his/her/its name?

    Inquiring someone’s surname (for formal settings):

    • 你貴姓?
      • Romanization: nei5 gwai3 sing3?
      • Translation: What is your surname?
      • Note: This is an honorable form of address. 貴 (gwai3) is an honorific reference and therefore, we don’t use it when referring to oneself.
    • 我姓張
      • Romanization: ngo5 sing3 zoeng1
      • Translation: My surname is Cheung.
      • Note: This phrase is used to answer the question 你貴姓 (nei5 gwai3 sing3) introduced above.

    If you don’t know how to write your name in Cantonese, ask our teachers on this page. You can also learn more about Hong Kong names and surnames there!


    2. Occupation

    Now let’s discover how to start talking about your profession in Cantonese, as this is a very important aspect of anyone’s life and makes for a great conversation starter.

    A: 我係老師。

    Romanization

    A: ngo5 hai6 lou5 si1.

    Translation

    A: I am a teacher.

    Breakdown

    我係 (ngo5 hai6)
    我係 (ngo5 hai6) means “I am.” You can add your profession or occupation directly after 我係 (ngo5 hai6). For example, if you’re a teacher, you can say 我係老師 (ngo5 hai6 lou5 si1). Note that the word added after 我係 (ngo5 hai6) should be a noun.

    老師 (lou5 si1)
    老師 (lou5 si1) is “teacher.” 我係老師 (ngo5 hai6 lou5 si1) literally translates as “I am teacher.” Unlike English, we don’t have singular or plural forms. Therefore, unless we want to emphasize the quantity, we won’t include adverbs or articles like “a” or “an” in an English sentence. If you want to express “we are teachers,” you can simply change 我 (ngo5) to 我哋 (ngo5 dei6) meaning “we” and say 我哋係老師 (ngo5 dei6 hai6 lou5 si1).

    More Examples

    • 我係學生。
      • Romanization: ngo5 hai6 hok6 sang1.
      • Translation: I’m a student.
    • 佢係工程師。
      • Romanization: keoi5 hai6 gung1 cing4 si1.
      • Translation: He’s an engineer.
    • 佢哋係律師。
      • Romanization: keoi5 dei6 hai6 leot6 si1.
      • Translation: They’re lawyers.

    Learn Cantonese vocabulary about occupations on our website.

    Supplementing Sentences

    Inquiring someone’s occupation:

    • 你做咩㗎?
      • Romanization: nei5 zou6 me1 gaa3?
      • Translation: What do you do?
    • 你做邊行?
      • Romanization: nei5 zou6 bin1 hong4?
      • Translation: Which industry are you working in?


    3. Age

    Here are some useful Cantonese phrases you should know for talking about your age in Cantonese.

    A: 你今年幾多歲?
    B: 我今年十九歲。

    Romanization

    A: nei5 gum1 nin2 gei2 do1 seoi3?
    B: ngo5 gum1 nin2 sap6 gau2 seoi3.

    Translation

    A: How old are you?
    B: I am nineteen years old.

    Breakdown

    今年 (gum1 nin2)
    今年 (gum1 nin2) means “this year.” Even though we typically assume that if someone asks “How old are you?” he or she is referring to your current age, and would therefore answer your current age, it’s a habit in Cantonese to add 今年 (gum1 nin2) in both the question and answer regarding age as demonstrated above.

    幾多 (gei2 do1)
    In Cantonese, there’s no differentiation between “how many” or “how much.” We use 幾多 (gei2 do1) to signify both “how many” or “how much.”

    歲 (seoi3)
    歲 (seoi3) translates to “age,” but in the context above, it means “years old.”

    More Numbers

    • Eighteen: 十八 (sap6 baat3)
    • Twenty: 二十 (ji6 sap6)
    • Thirty: 三十 (saam1 sap6)
    • Forty: 四十 (sei3 sap6)
    • Fifty: 五十 (ng5 sap6)
    • Sixty: 六十 (luk6 sap6)

    You can find Cantonese numbers on our website too if you want to learn even more!

    Supplementing Sentence

    Alternative way to inquire someone’s age:

    • 你幾大呀?
      • Romanization: nei5 gei2 daai6 aa1?
      • Translation: How old are you?
      • Note: 幾 (gei2) is “how” and 大 (daai6) is “large,” but in the above question, 大 (daai6) denotes “old.”


    4. Countries and Nationalities

    Talking about where you’re from in Cantonese may prove to be an important topic of conversation when meeting new people. So let’s take a look at some of the most useful Cantonese introductory phrases for this.

    A: 你係邊度嚟㗎?
    B: 我嚟自德國。

    Romanization

    A: nei5 hai6 bin1 dou6 lei4 gaa3?
    B: ngo5 lei4 zi6 dak1 gwok3.

    Translation

    A: Where are you from?
    B: I am from Germany.

    Breakdown

    你係 (nei5 hai6)
    你 (nei5) is “you” and 係 (hai6) is “to be,” so in the sentence 你係 (nei5 hai6) means “you are.”

    邊度 (bin1 dou6)
    邊度 (bin1 dou6) means “where.” You can use this phrase solely to inquire about a place. For example, if a friend of yours mentioned a decent restaurant she’s just been to, you can simply ask 邊度? (bin1 dou6?) to inquire about its location.

    嚟 (lei4)
    嚟 (lei4) means “to come” and can only be used in speech form.

    嚟自 (lei4 zi6)
    The word 自 (zi6) usually refers to “me,” but when we use it with 嚟 (lei4), 嚟自 (lei4 zi6) means “come from.”

    㗎 (gaa3)
    㗎 (gaa3) is a question particle. It doesn’t have any meaning. We usually add it to the end of a sentence to make ourselves sound friendlier to the person we’re speaking to.

    Supplementing Sentences

    Another way to talk about your nationality:

    • 我係美國人。
      • Romanization: ngo5 hai6 mei5 gwok3 jan4.
      • Translation: I am American.
      • Note: 人 means “people.” You can simply replace 美國 (mei5 gwok3) with your own country. For instance, if you’re Indian, you can say 我係印度人 (ngo5 hai6 jan3 dou6 jan4).

    More Countries:

    • Italy: 意大利 (ji3 daai6 lei6)
    • Brazil: 巴西 (baa1 saai1)
    • Japan: 日本 (jat6 bun2)
    • UK: 英國 (jing1 gwok3)
    • Denmark: 丹麥 (daan1 mak6)
    • France: 法國 (faat3 gwok3)
    • The Netherlands: 荷蘭 (ho4 laan1)
    • US: 美國 (mei5 gwok3)

    If you want to find more words about countries, check out our Country Vocab List in Cantonese on our website.


    5. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101.com can Help You Learn More Cantonese

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    In the meantime, you can continue to practice introducing yourself in Cantonese with the helpful situational Cantonese phrases we shared with you. Good luck and enjoy!

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