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How to Say Goodbye in Cantonese

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Do you want to leave a dashing and lasting impression after meeting someone new? It’s time to work on your grand exit! Earlier on this blog, you learned the various ways to say hello. Now it’s time to study how to say goodbye in Cantonese when it’s time to part ways. 

A proper goodbye shows courtesy and respect, and helps you hone your relationships. This is especially true in Asian societies like Hong Kong, where we value politeness, good manners, and filial piety.

There are many ways to say goodbye depending on the situation. In this article, we’ll cover the most common ways to say goodbye in Cantonese so you can be ready for any situation.

What are you waiting for? Start with a bonus, and download the Must-Know Beginner Vocabulary PDF for FREE! (Logged-In Member Only)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. The Most Common Way to Say Goodbye
  2. Specific Ways to Say Goodbye
  3. Gestures for Saying Goodbye
  4. Bonus: More Examples!
  5. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. The Most Common Way to Say Goodbye

Most Common Goodbyes

The most common way to say goodbye in Cantonese is: 拜拜.

Literal Translation: bye bye
Meaning: bye
Romanization: baai1 baai3
Explanation: This is the most common phrase for saying “bye” when we part ways, and it can be used in a variety of situations.

Example Conversation

Elizabeth: 
今日傾得好開心,可惜我有嘢做要走先喇。
gam1 jat6 king1 dak1 hou2 hoi1 sam1, ho2 sik1 ngo5 jau5 je5 zou6 jiu3 zau2 sin1 laa3
“It’s great chatting with you; it’s a pity I need to head off now.”

Charlotte: 
拜拜。
baai1 baai3
“Bye.”

2. Specific Ways to Say Goodbye

A Man Saying Bye to His Family

There are many other ways to say bye in Cantonese apart from 拜拜 (baai1 baai3). We’ll cover nine more popular Cantonese goodbye expressions below so that you’ll be able to make a good exit in any scenario!

1 – Goodbye. (Formal)

Chinese Character: 再見
Literal Translation: again see
Meaning: goodbye
Romanization: zoi3 gin3

Example Conversation 

Fitzwilliam: 
我好攰,想休息下,再見。
ngo5 hou2 gui6, soeng2 jau1 sik1 haa5, zoi3 gin3
“I am tired and would like to take a rest. Goodbye.”

William: 
再見。
zoi3 gin3
“Goodbye.”

2 – See you later.

Chinese Character: 遲啲見
Literal Translation: later see
Meaning: See you later. 
Romanization: ci4 di1 gin3
Note: This phrase is normally used when you plan on seeing each other within the next week.

Example Conversation 

Jane: 
多謝你安排呢個舞會。
do1 ze6 nei5 on1 paai4 ni1 go3 mou5 wui2
“Thank you for organizing the Ball.”

Charles: 
遲啲見。
ci4 di1 gin3
“See you (later).”

3 – See you next time.

Chinese Character: 下次見
Literal Translation: next time see
Meaning: See you (the next time we meet).
Romanization: haa6 ci3 gin3

Example Conversation 

George: 
今日玩得好開心,下次見。
gam1 jat6 waan2 dak1 hou2 hoi1 sam1, haa6 ci3 gin3
“We had a great time today, see you.”

Lydia: 
下次見。
haa6 ci3 gin3
“See you.”

4 – See you (at a specific time).

Chinese Character: (specific time) 見
Literal Translation: (specific time) see
Meaning: See you (at a specific time).
Romanization: (specific time) gin3

Example Conversation 

Elizabeth: 
我好期待聽日終於可以見到你細妹。
ngo5 hou2 kei4 doi6 ting1 jat6 zung1 jyu1 ho2 ji5 gin3 dou2 nei5 sai3 mui2
“I look forward to finally getting to know your sister tomorrow.”

Fitzwilliam: 
咁聽日見。
gam2 ting1 jat6 gin3
“See you tomorrow, then.”

Goodbye Kiss

5 – Take care.

Chinese Character: 保重
Literal Translation: keep important
Meaning: Take care.
Romanization: bou2 zung6

Example Conversation 

Jane: 
我要去一去倫敦,可能要留三個月。
ngo5 jiu3 heoi3 jat1 heoi3 leon4 deon1, ho2 nang4 jiu3 lau4 saam1 go3 jyut6
“I need to go to London and probably have to stay there for three months.”

Elizabeth: 
保重。
bou2 zung6
“Take care.”

6 – I gotta run.

Chinese Character: 我要走先喇
Literal Translation: I need go first 
Meaning: I gotta run.
Romanization: ngo5 jiu3 zau2 sin1 laa3

Example Conversation 

Lydia: 
我要走先喇。
ngo5 jiu3 zau2 sin1 laa3
“I gotta run.”

Catherine: 
好啦,拜拜。
hou2 laa1, baai1 baai3
“Alright. Bye.”

7 – Have a great one.

Chinese Character: 一切順利
Literal Translation: All well and good.
Meaning: Have a great one. / Good luck.
Romanization: jat1 cai3 seon6 lei6

Example Conversation 

Fitzwilliam: 
我有嘢做要離開屋企一陣。
ngo5 jau5 je5 zou6 jiu3 lei4 hoi1 uk1 kei2 jat1 zan6
“I have some business and will be away from home for a while.”

Giorgiana: 
一切順利。
jat1 cai3 seon6 lei6
“Good luck.”

8 – Keep in touch.

Chinese Character: 保持聯絡
Literal Translation: Keep contact
Meaning: Keep in touch.
Romanization: bou2 ci4 lyun4 lok3

Example Conversation 

Jane: 
好可惜你哋要搬走。
hou2 ho2 sik1 nei5 dei6 jiu3 bun1 zau2
“It’s a pity that you guys are moving away.”

Caroline: 
保持聯絡。
bou2 ci4 lyun4 lok3
“Keep in touch.”

9 – Texting “Bye”

Character: 88
Meaning: “bye” for informal texting purposes (“8” in Cantonese sounds like “bye,” and it’s easy to type.)
Romanization: baat3 baat3

Example Conversation 

Jane: 
我約咗人唔傾喇。
ngo5 joek3 zo2 jan4 m4 king1 laa3
“I am meeting a friend, let’s chat later.”

Elizabeth: 
88
“Bye.”

Want more? We have a separate vocabulary list of how to say goodbye in Cantonese so you can learn useful phrases more easily! 

3. Gestures for Saying Goodbye

Now that you know a few key phrases, there’s one more question we’d like to answer: How do you say goodbye in Hong Kong? 

In some Western cultures, you might kiss, hug, or shake hands with someone when it’s time to part ways. But in Hong Kong, we generally just say the parting words, possibly followed by a gentle wave. Local Cantonese do not like touches in general—and kisses on the cheek are a big NO.

Handshake in Business Settings

If you’re in a business setting where you need to give a formal farewell, a firm handshake will do the job just fine.

4. Bonus: More Examples!

a group of colleagues

We have more examples for you! Read the following dialogue between two colleagues, 馬家輝 (maa5 gaa1 fai1) and 張麗珊 (zoeng1 lai6 saan1). They’re good friends in the office, and 馬家輝 is about to leave.

Example dialogue 

馬家輝: 
我走先喇!
ngo5 zau2 sin1 laa3
“I am leaving.”

張麗珊: 
點解咁早走嘅?
dim2 gaai2 gam3 zou2 zau2 ge2
“Why are you leaving so early?”

馬家輝: 
我已經做晒啲嘢,咪返屋企囉!你都唔好成日加班喇。
ngo5 ji5 ging1 zou6 saai3 di1 je5, mai6 faan2 uk1 kei2 lo1. nei5 dou1 m4 hou2 seng4 jat6 gaa1 baan1 laa3
“I have finished my work, so I am heading home. You shouldn’t work overtime so often.”

張麗珊: 
講就容易。
gong2 zau6 jung4 ji6
“It’s easier said than done.”

馬家輝: 
你仲有好多嘢要做?你需唔需要幫手?
nei5 zung6 jau5 hou2 do1 je5 jiu3 zou6? nei5 seoi1 m4 seoi1 jiu3 bong1 sau2?
“Do you still have a lot of work? Do you need help?”

張麗珊: 
唔緊要啦,我自己搞得掂。
m4 gan2 jiu3 laa1, ngo5 zi6 gei2 gaau2 dak1 dim6
“It’s alright, I can take care of it.”

馬家輝: 
咁好啦,聽日見。辛苦晒喇。
gam2 hou2 laa1, ting1 jat6 gin3. san1 fu2 saai3 laa3
“Alright then, see you tomorrow. Thanks for your hard work.”

張麗珊: 
拜拜。
baai1 baai3
“Bye.”

Explanatory notes on the key vocabulary 

VocabularyRomanizationMeaning
走先zau2 sin1to leave early; to leave now
點解dim2 gaai2why
zou2 early
屋企uk1 kei2home
成日seng4 jat6all of the time; always
加班gaa1 baan1to work overtime
容易jung4 ji6easy; simple
需要seoi1 jiu3 need
幫手bong1 sau2help
緊要gan2 jiu3matter
dim6satisfactory; in good order
聽日ting1 jat6tomorrow
gin3to see

We hope the conversation above helped you better understand how to say bye in Cantonese! If you would like to read and listen to more useful examples, do check out our lesson on Saying Goodbye When You Leave Your Job in Hong Kong.

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

Now that you’ve learned your basic “hellos” and “goodbyes,” do you fancy learning more Cantonese?

With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through 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!

And keep in mind that if you prefer a one-on-one learning approach and want to further accelerate your Cantonese learning, you can take advantage of our MyTeacher program

Know that your hard work will pay off, and before you know it, you’ll be speaking Cantonese like a native! 

Before you go, let us know how you say goodbye in your language! We look forward to hearing from you.

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

Is Cantonese Hard to Learn?

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You might have heard stories about how difficult it is to learn Cantonese. After all, Cantonese is a tonal language with its own writing system based on 3000 to 4000 Chinese characters!

Even though Cantonese sounds complicated, and is certainly different from European languages such as English and Italian, it’s not that hard to master when you’re using the right tools and approach. So is Cantonese hard to learn? As with learning any other language, you just need to put in time, effort, and of course, your passion!

In this article, we’ll cover the easiest and hardest parts of Cantonese, talk about why you should learn the language, and tell you how to learn it effectively!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Cantonese in a Nutshell
  2. Learning Cantonese – The Easiest Part
  3. Learning Cantonese – The Hardest Part
  4. Why Cantonese?
  5. I Want to Learn Cantonese. Where Should I Start?
  6. Why is CantoneseClass101 Great for Learning Cantonese?

1. Cantonese in a Nutshell

Hong Kong’s Flag
  • Cantonese is spoken in Guangdong Province of China, as well as in Hong Kong, Macao, and Southeast Asia. 
  • Cantonese originated from the city of Guangzhou, which is the capital of Guangdong Province (traditionally known as Canton). 
  • Cantonese is referred to as 廣東話 (gwong2 dung1 wa2), literally meaning “Guangdong dialect,” or 粵語 (jyut6 jyu5), meaning Yue speech.”
  • There are a total of 73 million Cantonese-speakers all over the world.

2. Learning Cantonese – The Easiest Part

Thumbs Up

Cantonese is straightforward!

For example, Cantonese grammar rules are simpler than those of many other languages. We don’t have tenses (past, future, past perfect, etc.) like English, nor do we have grammatical gender like French.

Also, we’re quite direct when expressing ourselves. Many Cantonese-learners, in an attempt to translate what is polite in their own language, actually make a mess of a sentence in Cantonese by adding a lot of unnecessary words. 

For example, take this sentence: “Would you mind going to the store for me please?”

  • A native Cantonese-speaker would ask: 你去士多? (nei5 heoi3 si6 do1)
  • Literal translation of 你去士多: “You go store?”

Many westerners find it strange to be so concise, since this would feel rude to say in English. But finding places to add superfluous words (such as “please” and other common English niceties) is unnecessary. Cantonese is direct!

3. Learning Cantonese – The Hardest Part

A Troubled Student

Pronunciation!

This is a major Cantonese language difficulty that many new learners face.

You probably know already that Cantonese doesn’t use an alphabetical writing system like English does. Instead, it uses characters that are composed of parts that depict physical objects or abstract ideas. Further, there are no concrete rules for how a character should be pronounced based on its appearance.

What makes Cantonese even more different from many European languages is that Cantonese is a tonal language. The meaning of a word can change depending on the pitch that’s used, even if the pronunciation is the same. People not familiar with this tonal system may be easily confused and think that certain tones sound identical! 

This problem of perception is perhaps why Cantonese is so hard to learn, especially considering that there are nine tones in Cantonese (compared to four tones in Mandarin).

If you’ve been learning Cantonese for any length of time, you may know by now that we use a romanization system called “Jyutping.” This system consists of two components: “pronunciation” followed by a “tone number, to notate the sound of a word. Be mindful that even if the “pronunciation” of two or more words is identical, the meaning of the words can be very different if they use different “tone numbers.”

For example:

Chinese CharacterRomanizationMeaning
baa1“bus”
baa2“handle”
baa6“cease”

As you can see, changing the pitch pattern can have a huge impact on a word’s meaning!

4. Why Cantonese?

Have you ever heard of Bruce Lee? Jackie Chan? Chow Yun-fat? Well, they all came from Hong Kong!

There are countless reasons why you should learn Cantonese.

By learning Cantonese, you’ll be providing yourself with new opportunities. As you strengthen your language skills and learn more about Cantonese culture, you’ll start to find that you’re able to better navigate life and take advantage of more opportunities in the workplace—and the world! Traveling to or doing business in Hong Kong will no longer be a far-away dream, but rather a very possible reality. You’ll even have the freedom to move to Hong Kong or Macao to earn a living, or better yet, build a career using your newfound skills—instead of being stuck in one place. 

Hong Kong is one of the world’s most significant financial centers! It has the highest Financial Development Index score and it was ranked as the world’s most competitive economy, as well as the freest market economy, in the world. Being familiar with the Cantonese language, culture, and business environment can be key in settling important negotiations or making major deals.

A Couple Reading Maps

Will you be traveling for pleasure instead? Well, a solid understanding of Cantonese can make your experience in the local Hong Kong markets, rural areas, and restaurants so much smoother and a lot more fun! 

Another great benefit of learning Cantonese is that it will give you the opportunity to grow and look at the world with a more open mind. For instance, take a look at Cantonese pop culture! Many of the movies, dramas, and songs that are loved by people from all over the world were created in Hong Kong. Not everything gets translated, either. So unless you know Cantonese, you’re missing out on a lot of the amazing things that Cantonese pop culture has to offer.

Career growth, smooth travels, personal enlightenment…but that’s not all! Studies have shown that studying another language can improve memory and keep one’s brain in good condition. This, in turn, may prevent early onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia, giving the language-learner up to five additional years of quality life to live! 

5. I Want to Learn Cantonese. Where Should I Start?

Question Marks

1. Learn the romanization.

Pronunciation might be hard, but with the romanization system, you’ll be able to learn the correct pronunciation of a word. This way, you don’t have to keep guessing and going over your vocabulary nonstop! 

Literacy in Cantonese requires the memorization of thousands of components and characters, which can be quite daunting for new Cantonese-learners. To start learning the sounds of Cantonese without the baggage of characters, Cantonese jyutping (also referred to as Cantonese romanization) comes in. This is essentially a way to help translate Cantonese pronunciation into English pronunciation.

2.  Focus on speaking.

Many Cantonese beginners find it tempting to learn both reading and writing at the same time. But we believe that it may be better to start learning how to speak before you get into reading and writing at all! This will keep you from using up all of your mental energy and getting burned out at the beginning of your studies, and provide a more solid base for your language studies.

As mentioned earlier, there are thousands of Cantonese characters, and they were created based on abstract ideas. It takes a long time to gradually memorize and become familiar with all of them. Instead, focus on speaking first. Master it. This will also give you a chance to practice speaking with locals! 

3. Practice makes perfect.

The truth is that the only way you’re going to get a standard accent, well-ordered sentences, and a better understanding of tones is by speaking. So just get out there and practice! Even if you make a mistake, Cantonese people can usually guess what you’re saying, especially when there’s context. And if they can’t understand, there’s always charades. 

And of course, you need a good teacher to guide you and provide the resources you need—and that’s where CantoneseClass101.com comes in!

6. Why is CantoneseClass101 Great for Learning Cantonese?

CantoneseClass101.com

With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through 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!

And keep in mind that if you prefer a one-on-one learning approach and want to further accelerate your Cantonese-learning, you can take advantage of our MyTeacher program

Know that your hard work will pay off, and before you know it, you’ll be speaking Cantonese like a native! 

Before you go, we would love to hear your thoughts on learning Cantonese! What Cantonese difficulty do you face the most? Do you feel ready to start (or continue) learning, or do you still have questions or concerns?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Cantonese

The Most Common Cantonese Mistakes You Make When Learning

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Everybody makes mistakes. And yes, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll make mistakes while learning a new language, especially one as difficult as Cantonese

Making mistakes is no big deal—as you come closer to fluency in a language, you’ll have the time to figure out what mistakes you’re still making and how to address them. And that’s exactly what this guide is about.

In this article, we’ll list the most common Cantonese mistakes people make when learning  the language, covering a wide range of categories from pronunciation to word order. By the end of this article, you should be able to spot many mistakes, some of which are very easy to fix!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Pronunciation Mistakes
  2. Vocabulary Word Mistakes
  3. Word Order Mistakes
  4. Grammar Mistakes
  5. Another Big Mistake in Cantonese
  6. The Biggest Mistake: Being Afraid of Making Mistakes in Cantonese!
  7. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Pronunciation Mistakes 

A Man Pronouncing Words, Literally

Mistake #1: Using the wrong tones

Most learners aren’t familiar with tonal languages like Cantonese. In tonal languages, the meaning of a word can change depending on the pitch, even if the pronunciation remains the same. To people who don’t speak a tonal language, some tones may sound identical! This problem of perception is perhaps the most difficult part of learning a language like Cantonese.

If you’ve learned even a little bit of Cantonese, you probably know by now that we can use a romanization system called “Jyutping,” which consists of two components: “pronunciation,” followed by a “tone number.” Be mindful that even if the “pronunciation” of two or more words is identical, the meaning of the words can be very different if they have different “tone numbers.”

For example:

Chinese CharacterRomanizationMeaning
baa1“bus”
baa2“handle”
baa6“cease”

As you can see, changing the pitch can have a huge impact on the meaning! Always keep your eye and ear out for changes in tone and pitch to avoid a confusing mistake in Cantonese. 

Mistake #2: Mixing up J and Y in the Jyutping system

The Jyutping romanization system is a bit different from English, and one of the most confusing aspects of it is the J consonant. Although it’s represented as a J, it actually sounds like an English Y. So whenever you see the letter J in Jyutping, remember that it’s pronounced as a Y sound.

For example:

Chinese CharacterRomanizationMeaning
jau5“have”
ji3“two”
jyun4“dollar”

Mistake #3: Mispronouncing the C and Z consonants

The Cantonese C sounds a bit like a TS sound, like in “tsunami.” But unlike with the traditional TS sound in English, try to emphasize the T more than the S in Cantonese. Pronouncing it quickly may sometimes help with pronouncing the Cantonese C properly. Lastly, you want to release a burst of turbulent air when you’re pronouncing this sound.

The Cantonese Z sound is identical to that of the Cantonese C, except that you do not produce a burst of air. It has a strong DZ sound.

For example:

Chinese CharacterRomanizationMeaning
cin1“thousand”
cau1“draw”
ciu3“pretty”
zin1“fry”
zau1(common last name)
ziu3“shine”

2. Vocabulary Word Mistakes

A Dictionary

Mistake #4: Mixing up 咗 (zo2) and 過 (gwo3)

The great thing about Cantonese is that there are no verb tenses, conjugations, etc. However, there are two little words used to show that something took place in the past. These little words are particles, and they often come after a verb: 咗 (zo2) and 過 (gwo3).

Since both 咗 (zo2) and 過 (gwo3) indicate past tense, it’s quite common for people (especially beginners) to get these mixed up:

Romanizationzo2gwo3
Meaningshows that an action is complete, similar to the English “-ed” that comes after a verb when an action is doneshows an experience that someone has had before in the past
Take the sentence 我去 (ngo5 heoi3), meaning “I go,” as an example:
Characters我去咗我去過
Romanizationngo5 heoi3 zo2ngo5 heoi3 gwo3
Meaning“I went.”“I’ve been (there).”

From the example sentences above, you can see that when you add 咗 (zo2) to the sentence 我去 (ngo5 heoi3), or “I go,” the “go” becomes “went.” But if you add 過 (gwo3) instead, the “go” becomes “been.”

Mistake #5: Mixing up 唔 (m4) and 冇 (mou5)

There are two ways to negate a Cantonese verb: with 唔 (m4) or with 冇 (mou5). We put either of these two words in front of the verb to show that it is negative, but sometimes, it can be confusing to know when to use which.

The table below demonstrates the difference between the two:

Romanizationm4mou5
Meaningnegates action verbs in the present & future, or when talking about habitual thingsnegates verbs in the past tense, such as when you describe an action that either did not happen, or is not yet complete
Take the sentence 我食 (ngo5 sik6), meaning: “I eat,” as an example:
Characters我唔食我冇食
Romanizationngo5 m4 sik6ngo5 mou5 sik6
Meaning“I don’t eat.”“I didn’t eat.”

There are actually a couple more instances where you can use 冇 (mou5) to negate, but we’ll keep it simple here. You may check out our dictionary or class content to learn more!

3. Word Order Mistakes

A Lady Writing

Mistake #6: Putting the question word first in a question

In English, we usually start a question with the “W” words, like “Why,” “What,” and “Where,” but this is not the case in Cantonese. We do it the other way around, putting the Cantonese question word at the end of the question.

Take “Where is my book?” as an example:

  • Where: 邊 (bin1)
  • Is: 喺 (hai2)
  • My book: 我本書 (ngo5 bun2 syu1)

If you arrange the words in the English way, you’ll have 邊喺我本書 (bin1 hai2 ngo5 bun2 syu1), which is incorrect in Cantonese. The correct way to ask the question is: 我本書喺邊?(ngo5 bun2 syu1 hai2 bin1).

Let’s look at two more examples: “Who is she?” and “What are you eating?”

  • Who: 邊個 (bin1 go3)
  • Is: 喺 (hai2)
  • She: 佢 (keoi5)
  • Correct order: 佢係邊個?(keoi5 hai6 bin1 go3)
  • What: 咩呀 (me1 aa3)
  • You: 你 (nei5)
  • (Are) eating: 食緊 (sik6 gan2)
  • Correct order: 你食緊咩呀?(nei5 sik6 gan2 me1 aa3)

Mistake #7: Putting time adverbs at the end of a sentence

In English, we usually put the time adverb at the end, or occasionally at the beginning, of a sentence. But in Cantonese, we put the time adverb before the verb instead.

The correct way to add “time” to a simple “Subject (S) + Verb (V) + Object (O)” sentence in Cantonese is: “S + Time + V + O.”

Take “I watched a movie last week” as an example:

  • I: 我 (ngo5)
  • Watch: 睇 (tai2)
  • Movie: 戲 (hei3)
  • Last week: 上個禮拜 (soeng6 go3 lai5 baai3)
  • Correct order: 我上個禮拜睇戲 (ngo5 soeng6 go3 lai5 baai3 tai2 hei3)

Want to learn more about how to arrange words in Cantonese? Check out our article on Cantonese word order for more detailed information!

4. Grammar Mistakes

Question Marks

Mistake #8: Directly translating from English to Cantonese without considering parts of speech or context

Have you ever directly translated something from English to Cantonese? Sometimes it works, but very often, your listener may find it confusing. It’s like using Google Translate (it’s a very convenient tool, no doubt!) without double-checking the results (as they may be a bit odd).

Take “He is very sick” as an example:

  • Literal translation of “He is very sick” in Cantonese: 佢好病 (keoi5 hou2 beng6)
  • Meaning of  “佢好病”: “He’s crazy.”
  • Correct translation of He is very sick” in Cantonese: 佢病得好重 (keoi5 beng6 dak1 hou2 cung5)

It might take some time to develop a good understanding of the different parts of speech and how to more accurately translate into Cantonese, but no worries. Practice makes perfect. Try more, and learn from your mistakes!

Mistake #9: Using (or not using) a final particle

There are many final particles in Cantonese to indicate a change of mood or even the meaning of a word or phrase. If you use the wrong Cantonese particle, you may end up expressing the wrong emotion. And in some cases, forgetting to include a final particle may come across as rude! 

Below are some examples of final particles:

ParticleMeaningExample
呀 (aa3)used in neutral questions, or to soften the tone of affirmative statements so they don’t sound as abrupt我返屋企呀 ngo5 faan2 uk1 kei2 aa3“I’m going home.”
啦 (laa1)used in requests and imperatives (leaving it out could make the sentence sound rude)俾我啦 bei2 ngo5 laa1“Give it to me (please).”
囉 (lo1)indicates a suggestion or conclusion that should be obvious我冇車咪返唔到屋企囉 ngo5 mou5 ce1 mai6 faan2 m4 dou2 uk1 kei2 lo1“Without a car (of course), I am unable to go home.”

5. Another Big Mistake in Cantonese

Woman Covering Mouth with Both Hands

Mistake #10: Using too many words

A lot of Cantonese-learners, in an attempt to translate what is polite in their own language, will make a mess of a sentence in Cantonese by adding a lot of unnecessary words. Cantonese actually says things a lot more directly! 

Take “Would you mind going to the store for me, please” as an example:

  • A native Cantonese-speaker would ask with: 你去士多?(nei5 heoi3 si6 do1)
  • Literal translation of “你去士多”: “You go store?”

A lot of westerners find it strange to be so concise—it would feel rude to say that in English. But finding places to add superfluous “pleases” and stuff is unnecessary. It’s okay to use less words in Cantonese. It doesn’t sound rude at all.

6. The Biggest Mistake: Being Afraid of Making Mistakes in Cantonese!

A Woman Panicking

The truth is that the only way you’re going to get a standard accent, order sentences correctly, or get better at using and understanding tones is through making mistakes. So don’t worry. Even if you make a mistake, Cantonese people can usually guess what you’re saying, especially when there’s context. And if they can’t understand, there are always charades. 

The point is, you need to get out there and practice. Use the words you know. Engage in conversation. Then you’ll start to correct yourself, and your ear will get tuned to the language. Cantonese people love it when you try, so they’ll be very encouraging, for sure!

7. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

Learning from mistakes surely helps, but so does learning from 1000+ audio and video lessons!

With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through 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!

And keep in mind that if you prefer a one-on-one learning approach and want to further accelerate your Cantonese learning, you can take advantage of our MyTeacher program

Know that your hard work will pay off, and before you know it, you’ll be speaking Cantonese like a native! 

Before you go, let us know in the comments how many of these mistakes you’ve made before, and if this article was helpful for you. We look forward to hearing from you!

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

The Top 10 Most Common Cantonese Questions and Answers

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Just imagine: You’re going out with a group of native Cantonese-speakers. This is the perfect opportunity to make friends and practice your Cantonese in a real-life situation! But how do you break the ice? What should you say if you run out of topics or if your Cantonese isn’t solid enough to fuel the conversation?

The universal answer is: ask questions! 

Among countless benefits, being able to ask questions in Cantonese will help you avoid awkward silences by keeping the conversation going. It will also make the other person feel like you want to know more about them and value their opinion, thus making you more likeable. Asking questions opens a world of new information and cultural insight!

And one more perk: you don’t have to talk too much, just sit back and listen. Don’t think about your next question or how to steer the conversation back toward yourself. Just enjoy the ride and dive into whatever the other person has to say.

Convinced yet?

In this guide, you’ll not only learn how to ask questions in Cantonese, but also how to answer them. Let’s get started!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. What’s your name?
  2. Where are you from?
  3. Do you speak Cantonese?
  4. How long have you been studying ?
  5. Have you been to [country/city]?
  6. How are you?
  7. What time is it?
  8. What are you doing?
  9. What’s wrong?
  10. How much is it?
  11. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. What’s your name?

First Encounter

Q: 你叫咩名?

“What’s your name?” has to be the most common conversation starter of all. Make sure you keep it in your pocket list!

Romanization: nei5 giu3 me1 meng2

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
nei5 You
giu3 Call
me1 What
meng2Name

A: 我叫。

The answer to this question is pretty straightforward. You either state your name directly, or add the words 我叫before your name and make it “我叫.”

Romanization: ngo5 giu3 .

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
ngo5I
giu3 Call

See some examples of how to answer this question in Cantonese below!

Example 1

Chinese Characters: 我叫欣怡。
Meaning: My name is Yan-yee.
Romanization: ngo5 giu3 jan1 ji4

Example 2

Chinese Characters: 我叫俊傑。
Meaning: My name is Chun-kit.
Romanization: ngo5 giu3 zeon3 git6

Example 3

Chinese Characters: 我叫詠珊。
Meaning: My name is Wing-shan.
Romanization: ngo5 giu3 wing6 saan1

Example 4

Chinese Characters: 我叫偉文。
Meaning: My name is Wai-man.
Romanization: ngo5 giu3 wai5 man4

2. Where are you from?

Q: 你邊度嚟㗎?

This Cantonese question opens up a lot of possible conversation topics, such as cultural differences and must-see places, for you and your new Cantonese friends!

Romanization: nei5 bin1 dou6 lei4 gaa3

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
nei5 You
邊度bin1 dou6Where
lei4Come
gaa3a Cantonese question particle that indicates question or doubt

A: 我嚟嘅。

There are two ways you can answer this question. The first is by answering directly with your city or country: 

  • 香港 (hoeng1 gong2) – “Hong Kong”

You may also add the word 我 before “Hong Kong,” and 嚟嘅 after it: 我香港嚟嘅.

Romanization: ngo5 lei4 ge3

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
ngo5I
lei4To come
ge3a final particle that implies assertion with emphasis

Here are some examples:

Example 1

Chinese Characters: 我美國嚟嘅。
Meaning: I’m from the U.S.
Romanization: ngo5 mei5 gwok3 lei4 ge3

Example 2

Chinese Characters: 我英國嚟嘅。
Meaning: I’m from England.
Romanization: ngo5 jing1 gwok3 lei4 ge3

Example 3

Chinese Characters: 我中國嚟嘅。
Meaning: I’m from China.
Romanization: ngo5 zung1 gwok3 lei4 ge3

Example 4

Chinese Characters: 我德國嚟嘅。
Meaning: I’m from Germany.
Romanization: ngo5 dak1 gwok3 lei4 ge3



3. Do you speak Cantonese?

Books of Different Languages

Q: 你識唔識講?

This is one of those basic Cantonese questions that you may be asked when you meet new friends in Hong Kong!

Romanization: nei5 sik1 m4 sik1 gong2

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
nei5 You
識唔識sik1 m4 sik1To know or not
gong2Speak

Here’s an example:

Chinese Characters: 你識唔識講廣東話?
Meaning: Do you speak Cantonese?
Romanization: nei5 sik1 m4 sik1 gong2 gwong2 dung1 waa2

A: Varies

Depending on how well you know the language, you can answer with one of the below phrases!

AnswerRomanizationMeaning
識少少。sik1 siu2 siu2Yes, I speak a little.
識一啲。sik1 jat1 di1Yes, I speak some.
識啲啲。sik1 di1 di1Yes, I speak a little bit.
識大部分。sik1 daai6 bou6 fan6Yes, I speak quite a lot.

4. How long have you been studying ?

Introducing Yourself

Q: 你學咗幾耐?

Once your new Cantonese friends find out that you speak at least a little bit of their language, you may very likely be asked this question!

Romanization: nei5 hok6 zo2 gei2 noi6

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
nei5 You
學咗hok6 zo2 To have learned
幾耐gei2 noi6How long

Here’s an example:

Chinese Characters: 你學咗廣東話幾耐?
Meaning: How long have you been studying Cantonese?
Romanization: nei5 hok6 zo2 gwong2 dung1 waa2 gei2 noi6

A: Varies

Here are a few examples of how you can answer this question. 

AnswerRomanizationMeaning
一個月。jat1 go3 jyut6For one month.
一年。jat1 nin4For one year.
三個月。saam1 go3 jyut6For three months.
兩年。loeng5 nin4For two years.

5. Have you been to [country/city]?

The Globe

Q: 你有冇去過?

Another great conversation starter. You can share your travel stories and learn more about your Cantonese friends’ adventures!

Romanization: nei5 jau5 mou5 heoi3 gwo3

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
nei5 You
有冇jau5 mou5 To have or to not have
去過heoi3 gwo3Have been

Here’s an example:

Chinese Characters: 你有冇去過香港?
Meaning: Have you been to Hong Kong?
Romanization: nei5 jau5 mou5 heoi3 gwo3 hoeng1 gong2

A: Varies

AnswerRomanizationMeaning
有呀,去過兩次。jau5 aa3, heoi3 gwo3 loeng5 ci3Yes, I’ve been twice.
有呀,去過四次。jau5 aa3, heoi3 gwo3 sei3 ci3Yes, I’ve been four times.
有呀,去過一次。jau5 aa3, heoi3 gwo3 jat1 ci3Yes, I’ve been once.
冇呀。mou5 aa3No. (I have never been.)

6. How are you?

Q: 你好嗎?

This is one of the most useful Cantonese questions to know, especially once you’ve made some good friends and want to inquire about their well-being.

Romanization: nei5 hou2 maa3

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
nei5 You
hou2Good
maa3a Cantonese question particle

A: Varies 

AnswerRomanizationMeaning
我幾好。ngo5 gei2 hou2I’m fine.
我好好。ngo5 hou2 hou2I’m great.
我非常好。ngo5 fei1 soeng4 hou2I’m very good.
我唔係幾好。ngo5 m4 hai6 gei2 hou2I’m not so well.


7. What time is it?

A Clock

Q: 而家幾點?

A great question to ask when you don’t have your watch with you!

Romanization: ji4 gaa1 gei2 dim2

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
而家ji4 gaa1Now
gei2How long / How many / How much
dim2Time

A: Varies

AnswerRomanizationMeaning
十二點。sap6 ji6 dim2It’s twelve o’clock.
九點。gau2 dim2It’s nine o’clock.
六點。luk6 dim2It’s six o’clock.
兩點。loeng5 dim2It’s two o’clock.

8. What are you doing?

Q: 你做緊咩?

Are you curious what your new bestie is up to? Ask them in Cantonese! 

Romanization: nei5 zou6 gan2 me1

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
nei5 You
做緊zou6 gan2 Doing
me1What

A: Varies 

AnswerRomanizationMeaning
我諗緊嘢。ngo5 lam2 gan2 je5I’m thinking.
我食緊嘢。ngo5 sik6 gan2 je5I’m eating.
我做緊嘢。ngo5 zou6 gan2 je5I’m working.
我畫緊嘢。ngo5 waak6 gan2 je5I’m drawing.

9. What’s wrong?

Emotions

Q: 咩事呀?

Does your friend seem down today? Ask them what’s wrong, and lend a listening ear! 

Romanization: me1 si6 aa3

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
me1What
si6Matter
aa3a Cantonese question particle

A: Varies 

AnswerRomanizationMeaning
我好攰。ngo5 hou2 gui6I’m tired.
我唔舒服。ngo5 m4 syu1 fuk6I’m unwell.
我好眼瞓。ngo5 hou2 ngaan5 fan3I’m sleepy.
我擔⼼。ngo5 daam1 sam1I’m worried.

10. How much is it?

Q: 呢個幾錢?

You have to know this question if you plan on shopping in Hong Kong! 

Romanization: ni1 go3 gei2 cin2

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
呢個ni1 go3This
gei2How long / How many / How much 
cin2Money

A: Varies 

AnswerRomanizationMeaning
五十蚊。ng5 sap6 man1$50
一百蚊。jat1 baak3 man1$100
二千蚊ji6 cin1 man1$2000
兩百蚊。loeng5 baak3 man1$200


11. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

By now, you should have a better idea of how to ask and answer the most common Cantonese questions. Are there any important questions or answers we didn’t include? Let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to help.

Fancy learning more Cantonese after familiarizing yourself with the questions and answers above?

With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through 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!

And keep in mind that if you prefer a one-on-one learning approach and want to further accelerate your Cantonese learning, you can take advantage of our MyTeacher program by upgrading your account!

Know that your hard work will pay off, and before you know it, you’ll be speaking Cantonese like a native!

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

An Introduction to Cantonese Language Proficiency Tests

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Do you fancy studying or working abroad in Hong Kong, but don’t speak Cantonese as your first language? Or maybe you want to know how good your Cantonese is after months of hard work? No worries, we’ve got you covered! 

Today on CantoneseClass101.com, we’ll be providing you with a summary of the most popular Cantonese language exams—so read on!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Study Strategies in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Benefits of Taking a Cantonese Language Exam
  2. What Cantonese Language Exams are There?
  3. COPA (CUHK)
  4. ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI)
  5. Other Exams: GCSE Cantonese & HKDSE Chinese
  6. Bonus: Tips on Preparing for Your Cantonese Proficiency Exam
  7. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Benefits of Taking a Cantonese Language Exam

A Golden Egg

There are lots of reasons why taking a Cantonese test can be good for you (and your studies)! In the following sections, we’ll go over the top benefits you can expect from doing so.

1. It will improve the way you learn.

Taking tests and exams will give you a better idea of your current Cantonese proficiency level. This knowledge will allow you to see if there are any gaps between reality and your expectations. If so, you can do some reflection to figure out the best way to improve your studies and learning habits.

When you sit for an exam, you’ll have to recall and apply what you’ve learned. So making your studies more targeted allows you (or forces you) to remember useful information. It also improves your ability to apply what you’ve learned in new contexts. 

2. It will increase your motivation.

Before an exam, people tend to study harder than ever. With a goal or target in mind (and the exam fees you paid), you’ll have a greater urge to study and improve your Cantonese.

3. It will demonstrate your Cantonese abilities to others.

If you’re looking to work in Hong Kong and want to impress your potential employer, getting a good Cantonese exam score will help a lot. Not only does it prove that you know Cantonese, but it also proves that you’re resilient and a great learner. Afterall, Cantonese is one of the hardest languages in the world!

2. What Cantonese Language Exams are There?

A Question Mark

Unlike IELTS for English-learners or JLPT for Japanese-learners, there are no government-administered Cantonese language tests in Hong Kong. However, we do have some oral tests designed for Cantonese language learners. The two most common tests are COPA (offered by the Chinese University of Hong Kong [CUHK]) and OPI (offered by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages [ACTFL]).

There are also two more comprehensive Cantonese examinations: GCSE Cantonese and HKDSE Chinese. They’re actually part of the public examination designed for secondary school students. 

GCSE is a test that fifteen- and sixteen-year-olds must pass in order to graduate from the Key Stage 4 phase of their secondary education in either England, Northern Ireland, or Wales. HKDSE is Hong Kong’s university entrance examination, administered upon completion of a three-year senior secondary education.

3. COPA (CUHK)

1. Introduction

The COPA Cantonese exam is an adaptation of the Chinese Speaking Test (CST) developed by the Center for Applied Linguistics in the United States. 

Duration: 30-45 minutes

The examinee hears the test instructions and questions in their mother tongue (English, Japanese, or Korean) from a master tape, and then responds in the foreign language he or she is learning (Cantonese or Putonghua). Tasks cover a wide range of topics and speech functions, and responses are evaluated by two specially trained COPA raters.

The rationale in scoring the COPA is to find the level at which the examinee consistently fulfills the speaking functions. Each COPA task presents the examinee with a speaking task of a defined level of difficulty, based on the Proficiency Guidelines developed by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). The ACTFL Guidelines describe aspects of speech that characterize speakers as having a given level of proficiency. These guidelines were developed in response to a movement in the language-teaching community, stressing the importance of meaningful communication in the foreign language classroom.

All assessment tools are made available to the public so that learners who want their speaking proficiency in Cantonese assessed may obtain an objective evaluation based on testing and linguistic principles. Currently, English-speakers are able to take the COPA in Cantonese and Putonghua. Students will be notified when the Japanese and Korean versions are available.

2. Score reporting

A certificate will be issued with a description of the proficiency level attained by the examinee. The possible levels are: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Superior. This certificate will serve as an indication of his/her speaking ability and can be used for various purposes.

The official reports will be sent to the examinee two months after the testing date. Two additional reports will be sent free of charge to institutions designated by the examinee at the time of the evaluation. All subsequent requests to send the official report directly will be charged HK$50 per copy.

3. Fees and application procedure

  • Application fee: HK$100
  • Examination fee: HK$800 

The following groups can take the exam at a special rate of HK$600:

  • Current CUHK and CLC students
  • Students from CUHK university division Advanced Putonghua course
  • Current CLC TCFL Advanced Diploma Programme students

You may download the application form on the official website and bring a check (payable to “Chinese University of Hong Kong”) with you on exam day.

4. ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI)

1. Introduction

Duration: 15-30 minutes

The OPI test takes the form of a phone call, during which the candidate and tester have a guided conversation. After a short introduction, the tester will ask the candidate personalized questions and adapt the conversation depending on the candidate’s language skills, interests, and comfort level. 

As this is a standardized test, it’s a reliable way of measuring a person’s speaking ability in a given language. This Cantonese proficiency test is designed to reveal patterns of weaknesses and strengths that the candidate possesses. 

The OPI tests the candidate’s ability to speak Cantonese effectively in everyday situations. The test does not base its grading on specific curriculum content, and because each interview is adapted for the individual candidate, a candidate’s score or performance is not compared to that of other candidates. 

2. Score reporting

The OPI is graded according to the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines (2012), the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) guidelines, or the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) guidelines. The scoring guidelines are determined based on the type of certification the candidate is looking to attain. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of how each rating scale works:

  • ACTFL – A candidate may be rated anywhere between Novice and Superior.
  • ILR – A candidate may be rated anywhere from ILR 0 (no proficiency) to ILR 5 (functionally native).
  • CEFR – A candidate may be rated anywhere from A1 to C2.

3. Fees and application procedure

  • Examination fee: US$159.00 

You may schedule a test online.

5. Other Exams: GCSE Cantonese & HKDSE Chinese

College Students

Now we’ll briefly introduce the GCSE Cantonese and HKDSE Chinese tests. As explained earlier, these two are actually part of the public exams, and are therefore much more difficult. We do advise that language-learners, especially beginners, aim for the two exams mentioned above (COPA and OPI) rather than the following two!

1. GCSE Cantonese

GCSE in Chinese (spoken Cantonese) consists of four parts to assess your Cantonese listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills: 

  • Part 1: Listening & Understanding in Chinese (Cantonese)
    • Length: 45 minutes, including 5 minutes of reading time
    • Weighting: 25% / 50 Marks
  • Part 2: Speaking in Chinese
    • Length: 10-12 minutes plus 12 minutes of preparation time
    • Weighting: 25% / 70 Marks
  • Part 3: Reading & Understanding in Chinese
    • Length: 1 hour 5 minutes
    • Weighting: 25% / 50 Marks
  • Part 4: Writing in Chinese
    • Length: 1 hour 25 minutes
    • Weighting: 25% / 60 Marks

You may find out more about the exam on the official university website

2. HKDSE Chinese

HKDSE Chinese is designed for very advanced Cantonese speakers—even local secondary school students tend to find it difficult!

  • Part 1: Reading
    • Length: 1 hour 30 minutes
    • Weighting: 24% 
  • Part 2: Writing
    • Length: 1 hour 30 minutes
    • Weighting: 24%
  • Part 3: Listening and Integrated Skills
    • Length: 1 hour 30 minutes
    • Weighting: 18%
  • Part 4: Speaking
    • Length: 25 minutes
    • Weighting: 14%

School-based assessment (SBA) will account for the final 20%. For those who aren’t sitting for the exam as secondary school students, an average SBA score will be applied instead.

You may find out more about the exam here.

6. Bonus: Tips on Preparing for Your Cantonese Proficiency Exam

Light Bulbs
  • Do as many mock tests as you can.
  • Study the vocabulary required for the test.
  • Study the sample answers to the questions.
  • Speak more with native Cantonese-speakers.

Remember, practice makes perfect!

7. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

Language Skills

Planning to take a Cantonese exam soon? Come and practice your Cantonese with CantoneseClass101.com! With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through 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!

And keep in mind that if you prefer a one-on-one learning approach and want to further accelerate your Cantonese learning, you can take advantage of our MyTeacher program

Before you go,  let us know in the comments if we forgot to include anything, or if you still have some questions about these tests. We look forward to hearing from you, and will be glad to help!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Study Strategies in Cantonese

The 10 Most Useful Cantonese Sentence Patterns

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Struggle to express yourself in Cantonese? No worries—we’ve got you covered! Today at CantoneseClass101.com, we’re covering the ten most basic and useful sentence patterns. Memorize these patterns, and you’ll be able to generate hundreds of natural sentences and converse with ease and confidence.

Without further ado, let’s go through the ten most useful Cantonese sentence patterns together!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Linking Two Nouns: A is B
  2. Using Adjectives to Describe: A is [Adjective]
  3. Expressing “Want”
  4. Expressing “Need”
  5. Expressing “Like” or “Love”
  6. Politely Asking Someone to Do Something
  7. Asking for Permission
  8. Asking for Information About Something
  9. Asking About Time
  10. Asking About Location or Position

1. Linking Two Nouns: A is B

Sentence patterns

You can use this Cantonese sentence structure to say that one noun is also another noun. 

Sentence Pattern: [A] 係 [B]。

Romanization: [A] hai6 [B]

Meaning: [A] is [B].

Example sentence 1

Chinese Characters: 我係學生。

Romanization: ngo5 hai6 hok6 saang1

Meaning: “I am a student.”

Example sentence 2

Chinese Characters: 佢係醫生。

Romanization: keoi5 hai6 ji1 sang1

Meaning: “He is a doctor.”

Example sentence 3

Chinese Characters: 雖然佢係其中一個示威者,但係佢無做出任何暴力行為。

Romanization: seoi1 jin4 keoi5 hai6 kei4 zung1 jat1 go3 si6 wai1 ze2, daan6 hai6 keoi5 mou4 zou6 ceot1 jam6 ho4 bou6 lik6 hang4 wai4

Meaning: “Although he was one of the demonstrators, he did not commit any violence.”

Example sentence 4

Chinese Characters: 香港係我嘅家。

Romanization: hoeng1 gong2 hai6 ngo5 ge3 gaa1Meaning: “Hong Kong is my home.”

2. Using Adjectives to Describe: A is [Adjective]

This Cantonese sentence list provides examples of common sentences using adjectives to describe nouns. To create your own sentences, you may find it useful to visit our vocabulary list on the fifty most common adjectives in Cantonese.

Sentence Pattern: [A] 好 [B]。

Romanization: [A] hou2 [B]

Meaning: [A] is very [B (adjective)].

Example sentence 1

Chinese Characters: 綺拉好靚女。

Romanization: ji2 laai1 hou2 leng3 neoi2

Meaning: “Kiera is very good-looking.”

Example sentence 2

Chinese Characters: 彭定康係英國人。

Romanization: paang4 ding6 hong1 hai6 jing1 gwok3 jan4

Meaning: “Patten is British.”

Example sentence 3

Chinese Characters: 香港好靚。

Romanization: hoeng1 gong2 hou2 leng3

Meaning: Hong Kong is beautiful.”

Example sentence 4

Chinese Characters: 佢好得意。

Romanization: keoi5 hou2 dak1 ji3

Meaning: “It is cute.”

Example sentence 5

Chinese Characters: 我好傻,竟然信佢。

Romanization: ngo5 hou2 so4, ging2 jin4 seon3 keoi5

Meaning: “I am foolish enough to have trusted him.”

Example sentence 6

Chinese Characters: 佢好煩,不停懷疑我到底係咪鍾意佢。

Romanization: keoi5 hou2 faan4, bat1 ting4 waai4 ji4 ngo5 dou3 dai2 hai6 mai6 zung1 ji3 keoi5

Meaning: “He is so annoying—he kept questioning whether I love him or not.”

3. Expressing “Want”

a lady raising her hand

Some of the most useful Cantonese phrases are those for letting others know what you want. Here are some examples of how you can do this. 

Sentence Pattern: [A] 想 [B]。

Romanization: [A] soeng2 [B]

Meaning: [A] wants [B].

Example sentence 1

Chinese Characters: 我想去廁所。

Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 heoi3 ci3 so2

Meaning: “I want to go to the toilet.”

Example sentence 2

Chinese Characters: 佢想開party。

Romanization: keoi5 soeng2 hoi1 party 

Meaning: “He wants to throw a party.”

Example sentence 3

Chinese Characters: 我想喊。

Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 haam3

Meaning: “I want to cry.”

Example sentence 4

Chinese Characters: 佢想一腳踏兩船。

Romanization: keoi5 soeng2 jat1 goek3 daap6 loeng5 syun4

Meaning: “He wants to two-time.”

Example sentence 5

Chinese Characters: 我都想開心,但係日日見到呢啲咁sad嘅新聞好難開心喎。

Romanization: ngo5 dou1 soeng2 hoi1 sam1, daan6 hai6 jat6 jat6 gin3 dou2 ni1 di1 gam3 sad ge3 san1 man2 hou2 naan4 hoi1 sam1 wo3

Meaning: “I want to be happy too, but it’s very difficult to do so given that we are hearing sad news stories every day.”

4. Expressing “Need”

Sentence components

Learning Cantonese sentences for expressing what you need is even more important than learning those for expressing want. Take a look at these examples.

Sentence Pattern: [A] 要 [B]。

Romanization: [A] jiu3 [B]

Meaning: [A] needs [B].

Example sentence 1

Chinese Characters: 我要休息一陣。

Romanization: ngo5 jiu3 jau1 sik1 jat1 jan6

Meaning: “I need to rest for a bit.”

Example sentence 2

Chinese Characters: 佢要道歉。

Romanization: keoi5 jiu3 dou6 hip3

Meaning: “She needs to apologize.”

Example sentence 3

Chinese Characters: 我要食朱古力。

Romanization: ngo5 jiu3 sik6 zyu1 gu2 lik2

Meaning: “I need to eat chocolate.”

Example sentence 4

Chinese Characters: 佢要再攞多兩日假。

Romanization: keoi5 jiu3 zoi3 lo2 do1 loeng5 jat6 gaa3

Meaning: “He needs two more days off.”

Example sentence 5

Chinese Characters: 佢同第二個拍拖,我知你好傷心,但係你要振作,咁你先可以喺你嘅真命天子出現時俾最好嘅你佢。

Romanization: keoi5 tung4 dai6 ji6 go3 paak3 to1, ngo5 zi1 nei5 hou2 soeng1 sam1, daan6 hai6 nei5 jiu3 zan3 zok3, gam2 nei5 sin1 ho2 ji5 hai2 nei5 ge3 zan1 ming6 tin1 zi2 ceot1 jin6 si4 bei2 zeoi3 hou2 ge3 nei5 keoi5

Meaning: “I know he’s dating someone else and you’re sad, but you need to stay strong, only that you will be able to show your best self when your true love comes into your life.”

5. Expressing “Like” or “Love”

Facebook likes

Now let’s go over some Cantonese sentence examples for expressing your likes! 

Sentence Pattern: [A] 鍾意 [B]。

Romanization: [A] zung1 ji3 [B]

Meaning: [A] likes/loves [B].

Note: 鍾意 (zung1 ji3) can mean “like,” “love,” or “enjoy.”

Example sentence 1

Chinese Characters: 我鍾意多啦A夢。

Romanization: ngo5 zung1 ji3 do1 laa1 A mung6

Meaning: “I like Doraemon.”

Example sentence 2

Chinese Characters: 胖虎鍾意唱歌。

Romanization: bun6 fu2 zung1 ji3 coeng3 go1

Meaning: “Gian likes singing.”

Example sentence 3

Chinese Characters: 大雄鍾意靜香。

Romanization: daai6 hung4 zung1 ji3 zing6 hoeng1

Meaning: “Nobita loves Shizuka.”

Example sentence 4

Chinese Characters: 靜香鍾意拉小提琴。

Romanization: zing6 hoeng1 zung1 ji3 laai1 siu2 tai4 kam4

Meaning: “Shizuka likes playing violin.”

Example sentence 5

Chinese Characters: 小夫鍾意曬命,但係大雄、胖虎同靜香都仍然肯同佢做朋友。

Romanization: siu2 fu1 zung1 ji3 saai3 meng6, daan6 hai6 daai6 hung4, bun6 fu2 tung4 zing6 hoeng1 dou1 jing4 jin4 hang2 tung4 keoi5 zou6 pang4 jau5

Meaning: “Even though Suneo likes showing off, Nobita, Gian, and Shizuka are still willing to be friends with him.”

6. Politely Asking Someone to Do Something

The next type of Cantonese phrases we’ll look at are those for asking someone to do something in a polite way. Check it out:

Sentence Pattern: 請 [A]。

Romanization: cing2 [A]

Meaning: Please [A (verb)].

Example sentence 1

Chinese Characters: 請坐。

Romanization: cing2 co5

Meaning: “Please take a seat.”

Example sentence 2

Chinese Characters: 請等等。

Romanization: cing2 dang2 dang2

Meaning: “Please wait.”

Example sentence 3

Chinese Characters: 請注意。

Romanization: cing2 zyu3 ji3

Meaning: “Please pay attention.”

Example sentence 4

Chinese Characters: 請停一停。

Romanization: cing2 ting4 jat1 ting4

Meaning: “Please stop for a while.”

Example sentence 5

Chinese Characters: 請選擇語言。

Romanization: cing2 syun2 zaak6 jyu5 jin4

Meaning: “Please select the language.”

7. Asking for Permission

a question mark

Knowing how to ask for permission is important in every culture and language. Following are some examples of how to do this in Cantonese.

Sentence Pattern: [A] 可唔可以 [B]?

Romanization: [A] ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 [B]

Meaning: Can [A] [B (verb)]?

Example sentence 1

Chinese Characters: 我哋可唔可以食嘢?

Romanization: ngo5 dei6 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 sik6 je5

Meaning: “Can we eat?”

Example sentence 2

Chinese Characters: 我哋可唔可以做個朋友?

Romanization: ngo5 dei6 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 zou6 go3 pang4 jau5

Meaning: “Can we be friends?”

Example sentence 3

Chinese Characters: 你可唔可以唔好控制慾咁強?

Romanization: nei5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 m4 hou2 hung3 zai3 juk6 gam3 koeng4

Meaning: “Can you be less controlling?”

Example sentence 4

Chinese Characters: 爸爸,我哋可唔可以唔搭地鐵啊?

Romanization: baa4 baa1, ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 m4 daap3 dei6 tit3 aa3 

Meaning: “Dad, can we not take the MTR?”

Example sentence 5

Chinese Characters: 你可唔可以將你個女嫁畀我啊?

Romanization: nei5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 zoeng1 nei5 go3 neoi2 gaa3 bei2 ngo5 aa3

Meaning: “Can I marry your daughter?”

8. Asking for Information About Something

At some point, you’ll need to ask someone a question about something. Here’s the Cantonese sentence structure you should use to ask for information while in Hong Kong.

Sentence Pattern: [A] 係唔係 [B]?

Romanization: [A] hai6 m4 hai6 [B]

Meaning: Is [A] [B]?

Example sentence 1

Chinese Characters: 你係唔係偉仔?

Romanization: nei5 hai6 m4 hai6 wai5 zai2

Meaning: “Are you Tony Leung?”

Example sentence 2

Chinese Characters: 你係唔係學生?

Romanization: nei5 hai6 m4 hai6 hok6 saang1

Meaning: “Are you a student?”

Example sentence 3

Chinese Characters: 佢係唔係傻㗎?

Romanization: keoi5 hai6 m4 hai6 so4 gaa3

Meaning: “Is she out of her mind?”

Example sentence 4

Chinese Characters: 我係唔係好靚呢?

Romanization: ngo5 hai6 m4 hai6 hou2 leng3 ne1

Meaning: “Am I pretty?”

Example sentence 5

Chinese Characters: 你係唔係未食lunch?

Romanization: nei5 hai6 m4 hai6 mei6 sik6 lunch 

Meaning: “You haven’t had lunch, have you?”

9. Asking About Time

a clock

Learn this simple Cantonese sentence pattern, and never be late for a meeting again! 

Sentence Pattern: [A] 幾點 [B]?

Romanization: [A] gei2 dim2 [B]

Meaning: When [A]  [B (verb)]?

Example sentence 1

Chinese Characters: 我哋幾點食?

Romanization: ngo5 dei6 gei2 dim2 sik6

Meaning: “When should we eat?”

Example sentence 2

Chinese Characters: 你幾點收工?

Romanization: nei5 gei2 dim2 sau1 gung1

Meaning: “When will you be off?”

Example sentence 3

Chinese Characters: 你幾點瞓覺?

Romanization: nei5 gei2 dim2 fan3 gaau3

Meaning: “When do you sleep?”

Example sentence 4

Chinese Characters: 你幾點方便?

Romanization: nei5 gei2 dim2 fong1 bin6

Meaning: “When will be convenient for you?”

Example sentence 5

Chinese Characters: 我想見下你呀,你幾點得閒?

Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 gin3 haa5 nei5 aa3, nei5 gei2 dim2 dak1 haan4

Meaning: “I want to see you—when are you free?”

10. Asking About Location or Position

Have you ever been lost in a big city, or gotten turned around in an unfamiliar building? Learning this Cantonese sentence structure will be very helpful for your travels in Hong Kong! 

Sentence Pattern: [A] 喺邊度?

Romanization: [A] hai2 bin1 dou6

Meaning: Where is [A]?

Example sentence 1

Chinese Characters: 廁所喺邊度?

Romanization: ci3 so2 hai2 bin1 dou6

Meaning: “Where is the toilet?”

Example sentence 2

Chinese Characters: 車站喺邊度?

Romanization: ce1 zaam6 hai2 bin1 dou6

Meaning: “Where is the bus station?”

Example sentence 3

Chinese Characters: 餐廳喺邊度?

Romanization: caan1 teng1 hai2 bin1 dou6

Meaning: “Where is the restaurant?”

Example sentence 4

Chinese Characters: 商場喺邊度?

Romanization: soeng1 coeng4 hai2 bin1 dou6

Meaning: “Where is the shopping mall?”

Example sentence 5

Chinese Characters: 我見唔到你,你喺邊度?

Romanization: ngo5 gin3 m4 dou2 nei5, nei5 hai2 bin1 dou6

Meaning: “I can’t see you. Where are you?”

11. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

Did you know any of these Cantonese sentence patterns already, or are they new to you? Let us know in the comments, and feel free to reach out with any questions! 

Now that we’ve gone through the ten most useful Cantonese sentence patterns, try to express your thoughts in Cantonese! To better your Cantonese even further, we advise you to invest your time in CantoneseClass101.com!

With us, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through 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!

And keep in mind that if you prefer a one-on-one learning approach and want to further accelerate your Cantonese learning, you can take advantage of our MyTeacher program!

Know that your hard work will pay off, and before you know it, you’ll be speaking Cantonese like a native!

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Cantonese Adverb List: 100+ Useful Cantonese Adverbs

Thumbnail

Adverbs are vital in any language—they help the audience picture how something is done. Fancy learning some Cantonese adverbs but don’t know where to go? Let CantoneseClass101.com give you a helping hand!

Below, we’ve listed 100 of the most common Cantonese adverbs. Note that both written and spoken example sentences or phrases will be provided throughout the article. We’ve used symbols to help you identify which one is written (w), spoken (s), or applicable to both (ws).

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. What is an Adverb?
  2. Adverbs of Time
  3. Adverbs of Frequency
  4. Adverbs of Place
  5. Adverbs of Manner
  6. Adverbs of Degree
  7. Adverbs for Connecting Thoughts
  8. How to Use Adverbs in a Sentence
  9. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. What is an Adverb?

paper clips

An adverb is a part of speech that serves as a modifier for verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. It can also modify determiners, clauses, prepositions, and even sentences. Adverbs typically describe how or to what extent something was done, and they answer questions such as: “How?” / “In what way?” / “When?” / “Where?” / “To what extent?”

Now that you understand what an adverb is, let’s take a look at some useful adverbs in Cantonese, categorized by what question they answer.

2. Adverbs of Time

solar clock
#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaningExample
1已經ji5 ging1“already”





(w) 

男士已經給侍應貼士。

naam4 si6 ji5 ging1 kap1 si6 jing3 tip1 si2

“The gentleman already tipped the waiter.”
2馬上maa5 seong6“immediately”(w) 

房間馬上變得暗淡無光。
fong4 gaan1 maa5 soeng6 bin3 dak1 ngam3 taam6 mou4 gwong1

“The room immediately got dim.”
3最近zeoi3 gan6“lately”(w) 

最近使用的檔案

zeoi3 gan6 si2 jung6 dik1 dong2 ngon3

“Files that are used lately”
4下星期haa6 sing1 kei4“next week”(w) 

下星期休息

haa6 sing1 kei4 jau1 sik1

“Will be taking a break next week”
5而家ji4 gaa1“now”(s)

我而家太忙。

ngo5 ji4 gaa1 taai3 mong4

“I am too busy now.”
6好快hou2 faai3“soon”(s)

我好快飛抵澳洲。

ngo5 hou2 faai3 fei1 dai2 ou3 zau1

“I will be arriving in Australia soon.”
7仍然jing4 jin4“still”(ws)

我仍然相信你。

ngo5 jing4 jin4 soeng1 seon3 nei5 

“I still trust you.”
8今朝早gam1 ziu1 zou2“this morning”(s)

我今朝早去咗參觀大學。

ngo5 gam1 ziu1 zou2 heoi3 zo2 caam1 gun1 daai6 hok6

“I visited the university this morning.”
9今日gam1 jat6“today”(s)

今日搭的士。

gam1 jat6 daap3 dik1 si2

“Take a taxi today.”
10聽日ting1 jat6“tomorrow”(s)

你聽日會唔會出街?

nei5 ting1 jat6 wui5 m4 wui5 ceot1 gaai1?

“Will you go out tomorrow?”
11今晚gam1 maam5“tonight”(s)

今晚食乜餸?

gam1 maan5 sik6 mat1 sung3

“What are we having tonight?”
12噚日cam4 jat6“yesterday”(s)

噚日去咗邊度玩呀? 

cam4 jat6 heoi3 zo2 bin1 dou6 waan2 aa3

“Where did you go yesterday?”
13仲未zung6 mei6“yet”(s)

我仲未收到錢。

ngo5 zung6 mei6 sau1 dou2 cin2

“I haven’t received the money yet.”
14遲啲ci4 di1“later”(s)

會遲啲返。

wui5 ci4 di1 faan1

“Will be back later.”
15近排gan6 paai2“recently”(s)

我近排好忙。

ngo5 gan6 paai2 hou2 mong4

“I am quite busy recently.”
16本來bun2 loi4“originally”(s)

我本來唔想去泰國嘅。

ngo5 bun2 loi4 m4 soeng2 heoi3 taai3 gwok3 ge3

“I originally didn’t want to go to Thailand.”
17曾經cang4 ging1“once upon a time”(s)

佢曾經係醫生。

keoi5 cang4 ging1 hai6 ji1 sang1 ge3

“He was a doctor once upon a time.”
18初初co1 co1“in the beginning”(s)

我初初好憎拉小提琴,但係越拉越有feel。

ngo5 co1 co1 hou2 zang1 laai1 siu2 tai4 kam4, daan6 hai6 jyut6 laai1 jyut6 jau5 feel

“In the beginning, I hated playing the violin, but the more I played, the more it grew on me.”
19嗰陣時go2 zan6 si6“at that time”(s)

佢哋嗰陣時唔識對方。

keoi5 dei6 go2 zan6 si6 m4 sik1 deoi3 fong1

“They didn’t know each other at that time.”
20前嗰排cin4 go2 paai2“a while ago”(s)

我哋前嗰排先至去完泰國,唔想再去囉。

keoi5 dei6 cin4 go2 paai2 sin1 zi3 heoi3 jyun4 taai3 gwok3, m4 soeng2 zoi3 heoi3 lo1

“We just went to Thailand a while ago; I don’t want to go again.”
21暫時zaam6 si4“temporarily”(s)

個project暫時擱置。

go3 project zaam6 si4 gok3 zi3 

“The project is put on hold temporarily.”
22到時dou3 si4“then”(s)

到時再電聯。

dou3 si4 zoi3 din6 lyun4

“I will give you a call then.”
23上星期soeng6 sing1 kei4“last week”(w)

上星期的中文課

soeng6 sing1 kei4 dik1 zung1 man4 fo3

“the Chinese class last week”

3. Adverbs of Frequency

Top verbs
#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaningExample
24成日seng4 jat6“always” / “all the time”(s) 

你哋成日都去飲茶,唔悶㗎咩?

nei5 dei6 seng4 jat6 dou1 heoi3 jam2 caa4, m4 mun6 gaa3 me1? 

“Don’t you get tired of eating dim sum all the time?”
25永遠唔會wing5 jyun5 m4 wui5“never”(s) 

樓價永遠唔會跌

lau4 gaa3 wing5 jyun5 m4 wui5 dit3

“The housing price is never going to fall.”
26好少hou2 siu2“rarely”(s) 

我好少飲酒。

ngo5 hou2 siu2 jam2 zau2

“I rarely drink.”
27有時jau5 si4“sometimes”(w) 

夏天雨後,為什麼有時會出現彩虹? 

haa6 tin1 jyu5 hau6, wai6 sam6 mo1 jau5 si4 wui5 ceot1 jin6 coi2 hung4

“Why does a rainbow appear after rain in the summer sometimes?”
28頻密pan4 mat6“frequently”(w) 

僱主認為轉工太頻密是代表不定性。

gu3 zyu2 jing6 wai4 zyun3 gung1 taai3 pan4 mat6 si6 doi6 biu2 bat1 ding6 sing3

“Employers think that changing jobs too frequently symbolizes instability.”
29平時ping4 si4“usually”(s) 

佢平時做事好謹慎。

keoi5 ping4 si4 zou6 si6 hou2 gan2 san6

“He is usually meticulous in his work.”
30間中gaan3 zung1“occasionally”(ws) 

間中有陽光。

gaan3 zung1 jau5 joeng4 gwong1

“There will be sunshine occasionally.”
31不常bat1 soeng4“seldom”(w) 

不常使用

bat1 soeng4 si2 jung6

“seldom in use”
32zoi3“again”(ws) 

再嘗試

zoi3 soeng4 si3

“try again”
33mui5“every”(s) 

佢每三個月都會出國去旅行一次。

keoi5 mui5 saam1 go3 jyut6 dou1 wui5 ceot1 gwok3 heoi3 leoi5 hang4 jat1 ci3

“He travels abroad once every three months.”

4. Adverbs of Place

subway station
#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaningExample
34呢度ni1 dou6“here”(s) 

呢度有人跌親呀。

ni1 dou6 jau5 jan4 dit3 can1 aa3

“Someone fell over here.”
35嗰度go2 dou6“there”(s) 

嗰度好靚㗎,有機會你一定要去睇吓。 

go2 dou6 hou2 leng3 gaa3, jau5 gei1 wui6 nei5 jat1 ding6 jiu3 heoi3 tai2 haa5

“It’s beautiful there. You should go and take a look if you have the chance.”
36在那裏zoi6 naa5 leoi5“over there”(w) 

我確實是在那裏。

ngo5 kok3 sat6 si6 zoi6 naa5 leoi5

“I was really over there.”
37四周圍sei3 zau1 wai4“everywhere”(s) 

四周圍都冇哂位。

sei3 zau1 wai4 dou1 mou5 saai3 wai2

“It’s full everywhere.”
38任何地方jam6 ho4 dei6 fong1“anywhere”(w) 

你可以去任何地方。

nei5 ho2 ji5 heoi3 jam6 ho4 dei6 fong1

“You can go anywhere.”
39無地方mou4 dei6 fong1“nowhere”(s) 

無地方住

mou4 dei6 fong1 zyu6

“nowhere to live”
40離開lei4 hoi1“away”(w) 

帶我離開。

daai3 ngo5 lei4 hoi1

“Take me away.”
41外面ngoi6 min6“out”(w) 

在外面吃東西。

zoi6 ngoi6 min6 hek3 dung1 sai1

“Dine out.”

5. Adverbs of Manner

a Thai lady bowing
#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaningExample
42好大聲hou2 daai6 seng1“loudly”(s) 

我講得好大聲。

ngo5 gong2 dak1 hou2 daai6 seng1

“I speak really loudly.”
43真係zan1 hai6“really”(s) 

我真係好抱歉。

ngo5 zan1 hai6 hou2 pou5 hip3

“I am really sorry.”
44好快hou2 faai3“fast”(s) 

心跳得好快。

sam1 tiu3 dak1 hou2 faai3

“My heart beats fast.”
45hou2“well”(s) 

我過得好好。

ngo5 gwo3 dak1 hou2 hou2

“I am doing very well.”
46好腍hou2 nam6“soundly” (while asleep)(s) 

隻貓瞓覺瞓得好腍。

zek3 maau1 fan3 gaau3 fan3 dak1 hou2 nam6

“The cat slept soundly.”
47嗱嗱聲naa4 naa2 seng1“quickly”(s) 

嗱嗱聲出門口喇,唔係又遲到喇。

naa4 naa2 seng1 ceot1 mun4 hau2 laa3, m4 hai6 jau6 ci4 dou3 laa3

“Quickly head out or else you’re going to be late again.”
48好慢hou2 maan6“slowly”(ws) 

我做功課好慢。

ngo5 zou6 gung1 fo3 hou2 maan6

“I do homework slowly.”
49小心siu2 sam1“carefully”(w) 

小心保護敏感個人資料

siu2 sam1 bou2 wu6 man5 gam2 go3 jan4 zi1 liu2

“Carefully protect your personal information.”
50一齊jat1 cai4“together”(s) 

一齊買鞋

jat1 cai4 maai5 haai4

“buy shoes together”
51自己一個zi6 gei2 jat1 go3“alone”(ws) 

自己一個更開心。

zi6 gei2 jat1 go3 gang3 hoi1 sam1

“I am happier alone.”
52唔小心m4 siu2 sam1“accidentally”(s) 

唔小心跌咗

m4 siu2 sam1 dit3 zo2

“fell accidentally”
53基本上gei1 bun2 soeng6“basically”(w) 

他基本上完成了自己的工作。

taa1 gei1 bun2 soeng6 jyun4 sing4 liu5 zi6 gei2 dik1 gung1 zok3

“He basically finishes his job.”
54橫掂waang4 dim6“seeing that you’re”(s) 

我哋橫掂都要去沙田,不如去探埋嫲嫲啦。

ngo5 dei6 waang4 dim6 dou1 jiu3 heoi3 saa1 tin4, bat1 jyu4 heoi3 taam3 maai4 maa4 maa4 laa1

“Seeing that we’re going to ShaTin anyway, let’s go and pay meemaw a visit.”
55特登dak6 dang1“deliberately”(s) 

佢唔係特登撞你嘅。

keoi5 m4 hai6 dak6 dang1 zong6 nei5 ge3

“He didn’t deliberately run into you.”
56一步一步jat1 bou6 jat1 bou6“one step at a time”(s) 

學習要一步一步嚟,唔可以急。

hok6 zaap6 jiu3 jat1 bou6 jat1 bou6 lei4, m4 ho2 ji5 gap1

“We should learn one step at a time, we can’t hurry it.”
57一大啖jat1 daai6 daam6“in a big mouthful”(s) 

我一大啖食咗三份之一碗飯。

ngo5 jat1 daai6 daam6 sik6 zo2 saam1 fan6 zi1 jat1 wun2 faan6

“I gulped down a third of the bowl of rice in a big mouthful.”
58靜靜雞zing6 zing2 gai1“quietly”(s) 

靜靜雞用手機前鏡頭影你相

zing6 zing2 gai1 jung6 sau2 gei1 cin4 geng3 tau4 jing2 nei5 soeng2

“Took a picture of you using his front phone camera quietly”
59好易hou2 ji6“easily”(s) 

好易登記

hou2 ji6 dang1 gei3

“easily registered”
60確確實實地kok3 kok3 sat6 sat6 dei6“literally”(w) 

他們確確實實地整晚都在跳舞。

taa1 mun4 kok3 kok3 sat6 sat6 dei6 zing2 maan5 dou1 zoi6 tiu3 mou5 

“They literally danced all night.”
61簡直gaan2 zik6“simply”(s) 

簡直不可理喻。

gaan2 zik6 bat1 ho2 lei5 jyu6

“It’s simply unreasonable.”
62好努力hou2 nou5 lik6“diligently”(s) 

我每日都好努力讀書。

ngo5 mui5 jat6 dou1 hou2 nou5 lik6 duk6 syu1

“I study hard every day.”
63好認真hou2 jing6 zan1“seriously”(s) 

佢好認真做運動。

keoi5 hou2 jing6 zan1 zou6 wan6 dung6

“He exercises seriously.”
64乖乖咁gwaai1 gwaai1 gam2“obediently”(s) 

你要乖乖咁起身返工。

nei5 jiu3 gwaai1 gwaai1 gam2 hei2 san1 faan1 gung1

“You have to wake up and go to work obediently.”
65好開心hou2 hoi1 sam1“happily”(s) 

觀眾笑得好開心。

gun1 zung3 siu3 dak1 hou2 hoi1 sam1

“The audience laughed happily.”
66唔開心m4 hoi1 sam1“sadly”(s) 

過得唔開心。

gwo3 dak1 m4 hoi1 sam1

“I am living sadly.”
67好嬲hou2 nau1“angrily”(s) 

佢哋根本唔尊重啲客人,食到好嬲。

keoi5 dei6 gan1 bun2 m4 zyun1 zung6 di1 haak3 jan4, sik6 dou3 hou2 nau1

“They didn’t respect their clients at all. I ate angrily.”

6. Adverbs of Degree

More essential verbs
#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaningExample
68hou2“very”(s) 

我過得好好。

ngo5 gwo3 dak1 hou2 hou2

“I am doing very well.”
69相當soeng1 dong1“quite”(ws) 

相當多

soeng1 dong1 do1

“quite a lot”
70好少hou2 siu2“hardly”(ws) 

好少聯絡

hou2 siu2 lyun4 lok3

“hardly get in touch”
71幾乎不gei2 fu4 bat1“barely”(ws) 

幾乎不知道

gei2 fu4 bat1 zi1 dou3

“barely know”
72大部分daai6 bou6 fan6“mostly”(ws) 

大部分支持

daai6 bou6 fan1 zi1 ci4

“mostly support”
73幾乎gei1 fu4“almost”(w) 

幾乎撞到

gei1 fu4 zong6 dou2

“almost got hit”
74一定jat1 ding6“absolutely”(ws) 

一定要贏

jat1 ding6 jiu3 jeng4

“absolutely need to win”
75一啲jat1 di1“a bit”(s) 

我有一啲緊張。

ngo5 jau5 jat1 di1 gan2 zoeng1

“I am a bit nervous.”
76好多hou2 do1“a lot”(s) 

做人會開心好多。

zou6 jan4 wui5 hoi1 sam1 hou2 do1

“You will be a lot happier.”
77gau3“enough”(s) 

我夠勇敢。

ngo5 gau3 jung5 gam2

“I am brave enough.”
78tai3“too,” “excessively”(s) 

我太緊張。

ngo5 taai3 gan2 zoeng1

“I am too nervous.”
79唔係太m4 hai6 tai3“not really”我唔係太中意佢。

ngo5 m4 hai6 taai3 zung1 ji3 keoi5

“I don’t really like him.”
80凈係zing6 hai6“only”(s) 

而家凈係得返豬扒喇。

ji4 gaa1 zing6 hai6 dak1 faan1 zyu1 paa2 laa3

“There are only pork chops left.”
81dak1“only … left”(s) 

得一個

dak1 jat1 go3

“There is only one left.”
82特別dak6 bit6“exceptionally”(s) 

呢個女人特別囉嗦。

ni1 go3 neoi5 jan2 dak6 bit6 lo1 so1

“This woman is exceptionally annoying.”
83零舍ling4 se3“particularly”(s) 

嗰個阿叔零舍長氣。

go2 go3 aa3 suk1 ling4 se3 coeng4 hei3

“That middle-aged man is particularly long-winded.”
84ciu1“super”(s) 

我女朋友超性感。

ngo5 neoi5 pang4 jau5 ciu1 sing3 gam2

“My girlfriend is super sexy.”

7. Adverbs for Connecting Thoughts

two fuses being connected
#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaningExample
85不過bat1 gwo3“however”(s) 

____,佢好認真做運動。

_____, keoi5 hou2 jing6 zan1 zou6 wan6 dung6

“______, he exercises seriously.”
86所以so2 ji3“therefore”
87另一方面ling6 jat1 fong1 min6“on the other hand”
88終於zung1 yu1“finally”
89最終zeoi3 zung2“eventually”
90但係daan6 hai6“nevertheless”
91於是jyu1 si6“consequently”
92確實kok3 sat6“indeed”
93反而faan2 yi4“instead”
94同樣地tung4 joeng6 dei6“likewise”
95而且ji4 ce2“moreover”
96與此同時jyu5 ci2 tung4 si4“meanwhile”
97況且fong3 ce2“besides”
98毫無疑問地hou4 mou4 ji4 man6 dei6“certainly”
99再者zoi3 ze2“in addition”
100然後jin4 hau6“and then”
101其實kei4 sat6“in fact”
102忽然間fat1 jin4 gaan1“suddenly”

8. How to Use Adverbs in a Sentence

There are many ways to use an adverb in Cantonese, and today, we’ll be introducing the three most common structures:

1. Cantonese adverbs with 得 (dak1):

Sentence Structure: Verb + 得 + Adjective

Example 1 –

Character: 佢行得好快。

Romanization: keoi5 haang4 dak1 hou2 faai3

Meaning: “He walks very quickly.”

Example 2 –

Character: 我講得好大聲。

Romanization: ngo5 gong2 dak1 hou2 daai6 seng1

Meaning: “I speak really loudly.”

Example 3 –

Character: 隻貓瞓覺瞓得好腍。

Romanization: zek3 maau1 fan3 gaau3 fan3 dak1 hou2 nam6

Meaning: “The cat slept soundly.”

2. Cantonese adverbs with 咁 (gam2):

Sentence Structure: Adjective + 咁 + Verb

Example 1 –

Character: 佢好快咁食曬啲嘢。

Romanization: keoi5 hou2 faai3 gam2 sik6 saai3 di1 je5

Meaning: “She quickly gobbled up everything.”

Example 2 –

Character: 佢好快咁做曬功課。

Romanization: keoi5 hou2 faai3 gam2 zou6 saai3 gung1 fo3

Meaning: “He quickly finished their homework.”

Example 3 –

Character: 佢好勤力咁溫書。

Romanization: keoi5 hou2 kan4 lik6 gam2 wan1 syu1

Meaning: “He studies diligently.”

3. Cantonese adverbs with 哋 (dei2):

Sentence Structure: Adjective + 哋 + Verb

Example 1 –

Character: 隻狗偷偷哋食咗檯面條香腸。

Romanization: zek3 gau2 tau1 tau1 dei2 sik6 zo2 toi2 min2 tiu4 hoeng1 coeng2

Meaning: “The dog sneakily ate the sausage on the table.”

Example 2 –

Character: 你靜靜哋做功課。

Romanization: nei5 zing6 zing2 dei2 zou6 gung1 fo3.

Meaning: “Do your homework quietly.”

Example 3 –

Character: 我偷偷哋去佢個Party。

Romanization: ngo5 tau1 tau1 dei2 heoi3 keoi5 go3 party

Meaning: “I am sneakily going to his party.”

9. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

We hope by now you can use Cantonese adverbs to enrich your conversations! Let us know in the comments any new words you learned, or if there are still more common Cantonese adverbs you want to know. We look forward to hearing from you! 

After mastering Cantonese adverbs, do you want to level up your Cantonese and learn more Cantonese phrases? With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through mobile apps, desktop software, and our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture.

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Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Cantonese

100 Cantonese Verbs Just for You!

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Verbs are essential in a language—they describe actions or talk about something that happens. 
The more Cantonese verbs you know, the easier it will be for you to master the Cantonese language as a whole. Can’t wait to learn the most common Cantonese verbs? Check out our short guide to verbs in Cantonese below, study our Cantonese verbs list, and let CantoneseClass101.com give you a helping hand!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Cantonese Verbs Overview
  2. Action Verbs
  3. Helping Verbs
  4. Linking Verbs
  5. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Cantonese Verbs Overview

a woman holding magnifying glasses

Unlike many other languages around the globe, Cantonese verbs by themselves indicate no tense. Generally, the timing of a particular event is expressed through the addition of time-establishing adverbs, though there are some situations when the timing is expressed largely through contextual clues and other indicators reliant on the interpretation of the meaning. By adding particles to the sentence, it can be turned into a question or more clearly demonstrate the mood, attitude, and intention of the speaker.

Note that there are written and spoken Cantonese verbs. We’ve used symbols to help you identify which ones are written (w), spoken (s), or applicable to both (ws).

2. Action Verbs

Top verbs
#MeaningChinese CharactersRomanizationExample
1go(ws)heoi3直去

zik6 heoi3

go straight ahead
2eat(s)sik6一家人食早餐。

jat1 gaa1 jan4 sik6 zou2 caan1

The family eats breakfast.
3(w)hek3一家人吃早餐。

jat1 gaa1 jan4 hek3 zou2 caan1

The family eats breakfast.
4drink(s)jam2飲樽裝飲品

jam2 zeon1 zon1 jam2 ban2

drink from a plastic bottle
5(w)hot3喝樽裝飲品

hot3 zeon1 zon1 jam2 ban2

drink from a plastic bottle
6walk(s)haan4女孩行近攝錄機。

neoi5 haai4 haan4 kan5 sip3 luk6 gei1

The girl walks towards the video camera.
7(w)zau2女孩走近攝錄機。

neoi5 haai4 zau2 gan6 sip3 luk6 gei1

The girl walks towards the video camera.
8sleep瞓覺 (s)fan3 gaau3BB喺氈上瞓覺。

bi4 bi1 hai2 zin1 soeng6 fan3 gaau3

The baby sleeps on the blanket.
9睡覺 (w)seoi6 gaau3嬰兒在氈上睡覺。

jing1 ji4 zoi6 zin1 soeng6 seoi6 gaau3

The baby sleeps on the blanket.
10understand(s)ming4我明。

ngo5 ming4

I understand.
11理解 (w)lei5 gaai2我理解。

ngo5 lei5 gaai2

I understand.
12ask(ws)man6大學生問教授問題。

daai6 hok6 sang1 man6 gaau3 sau6 man6 tai4

The university student asks the professor a question.
13run(ws)paau2我跑。

ngo5 paau2

I run.
14think(s)lam2女人諗答案。

neoi5 jan2 lam2 daap3 on3

The woman thinks about the answer.
15(w)soeng2女人想答案。

neoi5 jan2 soeng2 daap3 on3

The woman thinks about the answer.
16know認識 (ws)jing6 sik1認識自己

jing6 sik1 zi6 gei2

know yourself
17help(ws)bong1我幫媽媽洗碗。

ngo5 bong1 maa4 maa1 sai2 wun2

I help my mum wash the dishes.
18take(s)ling1啲人拎咗士多啤梨。

di1 jan4 ling1 zo2 si6 do1 be1 lei2

The people took the strawberries.
19(w)naa4人們拿了士多啤梨。

jan4 mun4 naa4 liu5 si6 do1 be1 lei2

The people took the strawberries.
20use(ws)jung6程式設計員用電腦。

cing4 sik1 cit3 gai3 jyun4 jung6 din6 nou5

The programmer uses the computer.
21work做嘢 (s)zou6 je5女人喺辦公室做緊嘢。

neoi5 jan2 hai2 baan6 gung1 sat1 zou6 gan2 je5

The woman is working at the office.
22工作 (w)gung1 zok3女人正在辦公室工作。

neoi5 jan2 zing3 zoi6 baan6 gung1 sat1 gung1 zok3

The woman is working at the office.
23give(s)bei2老豆畀硬幣個仔。

lou5 dau6 bei2 ngaang6 bai6 go3 zai2

The father gives coins to his son.
24(w)kap1父親給兒子硬幣。

fu6 can1 kap1 ji4 zi2 ngaang6 bai6

The father gives coins to his son.
25talk(s)gong2你講咩?

nei5 gong2 me1

What are you talking about?
26(w)syut3你說甚麼?

nei5 syut3 sam6 mo1

What are you talking about?
27begin開始 (ws)hoi1 ci2重新開始

cung4 san1 hoi1 ci2

begin again
28watch(s)tai2遊客睇日落。

jau4 haak3 tai2 jat6 lok6

The tourists watch the sunset.
29(w)hon3遊客看日落。

jau4 haak3 hon3 jat6 lok6

The tourists watch the sunset.
30leave離開 (ws)lei6 hoi1離開公司

lei6 hoi1 gung1 si1

leave a company
31become變為 (ws)bin3 wai4變為蝴蝶

bin3 wai4 wu4 dip2

become a butterfly
32hear(s)*

*same character but different pronunciation
teng1我聽到。

ngo5 teng1 dou2

I heard.
33(w)*

*same character but different pronunciation
ting3我聽見。

ngo5 ting3 gin3

I heard.
34wait(ws)dang2遊客等火車。

jau4 haak3 dang2 fo2 ce1

The traveler waits for the train.
35play(s)*

*same character but different pronunciation
waan2我要玩。

ngo5 jiu3 waan2

I need to play.
36(w)*

*same character but different pronunciation
wun6我要玩。

ngo5 jiu3 wun6

I need to play.
37call(ws)daa2打電話

daa2 din6 waa2

make a phone call
38remember記得 (ws)gei3 dak1我記得你。

ngo5 gei3 dak1 nei5

I remember you.
39believe相信 (ws)soeng1 seon3我相信你。

ngo5 soeng1 seon3 nei5

I believe you.
40like鍾意 (s)zung6 ji3我鍾意睇日落。

ngo5 zung1 ji3 tai2 jat6 lok6 

I like watching the sunset.
41喜歡 (w)hei2 fun1我喜歡看日落。

ngo5 hei2 fun1 hon3 jat6 lok6

I like watching the sunset.
42cancel取消 (ws)ceoi2 siu1取消會議

ceoi2 siu1 wui6 ji5

cancel the meeting
43arrive(ws)dou3到了公園

dou3 liu5 gung1 jyun2

arrive at the park
44die(s)sei2佢舊年因為意外死咗。

keoi5 gau6 nin2 jan1 wai6 ji3 ngoi6 sei2 zo2

He died in an accident last year.
45去世 (w)heoi3 sai3他去年在意外中去世。

taa1 heoi3 nin4 zoi6 ji3 ngoi6 zung1 heoi3 sai3

He died in an accident last year.
46rest休息 (ws)jau1 sik1我要休息。

ngo5 jiu3 jau1 sik1

I need to rest.
47cook(ws)zyu2廚房煮食

cyu4 fong2 zyu2 sik6

cook in a kitchen
48feel覺得 (ws)gok3 dak1男孩覺得難過。

naam4 haai4 gok3 dak1 naan4 gwo3

The boy is feeling sad.
49draw畫畫 (ws)waat6 waa2我要畫畫。

ngo5 jiu3 waat6 waa2

I need to draw.
50answer回答 (ws)wui4 daap3回答問題

wui4 daap3 man6 tai4

answer questions
51receive(ws)sau1男人收錢。

naam4 jan2 sau1 cin2

The man receives money.
52plan計劃 (ws)gai3 waak6計劃預算

gai3 waak6 jyu6 syun3

plan the budget
53explain解釋 (ws)gaai2 sik1教授解釋圖表。

gaau3 sau6 gaai2 sik1 tou4 biu2

The professor explains the diagram.
54jump(ws)tiu3能跳過

nang4 tiu3 gwo3

can jump over
55teach(ws)gaau3老師教英文。

lou5 si1 gaau3 jing1 man2

The teacher taught English.
56close(s)saan1大學生閂門。

daai6 hok6 saan1 saan1 mun4

The university student closes the door.
57(w)gwaan1大學生關門。

daai6 hok6 saan1 gwaan1 mun4

The university student closes the door.
58buy(ws)maai5情侶買衣服。

cing4 leoi5 maai5 ji1 fuk6

The couple buys clothes.
59read(ws)duk6讀雜誌

duk6 zaap6 zi3

read a magazine
60wake up(s)*

*same character but different pronunciation
seng2我醒啦。

ngo5 seng2 laa1

I woke up.
61(w)*

*same character but different pronunciation
sing2我醒來。

ngo5 sing2 loi4

I woke up.
62return(s)faan2我返屋企。

ngo5 faan2 uk1 kei2

I return home.
63(w)wui4我回家。

ngo5 wui4 gaa1

I return home.
64kick(ws)tek3踢波

tek3 bo1

kick the ball
65sell(ws)maai6賣電腦

maai6 din6 nou5

sell the computer
66invite邀請 (ws)jiu1 cing2我想邀請你。

ngo5 soeng2 jiu1 cing2 nei5

I want to invite you.
67write(ws)se2我寫。

ngo5 se2

I will write.
68study(ws)hok6我學廣東話。

ngo5 hok6 gwong2 dung1 waa2

I learn Cantonese.
69find(s)wan2我搵你。

ngo5 wan2 nei5

I will find you.
70(w)zaau2我找你。

ngo5 zaau2 nei5

I will find you.
71solve解決 (ws)gaai2 kyut3解決問題

gaai2 kyut3 man6 tai4

solve problems
72introduce介紹 (ws)gaai3 siu6介紹廣東話

gaai3 siu6 gwong2 dung1 waa2

introduce Cantonese
73share分享 (ws)fan1 hoeng2分享意見

fan1 hoeng2 ji3 gin3

share one’s view
74sit(s)*

*same character but different pronunciation
co5我坐。

ngo5 co5

I will sit.
75(w)*

*same character but different pronunciation
zo6我坐。

ngo5 zo6

I will sit.
76participate參加 (ws)caam1 gaa1參加比賽

caam1 gaa1 bei2 coi3

participate in a competition
77sing(ws)coeng3唱歌

coeng3 go1

sing a song
78smile(ws)siu3我笑緊。

ngo5 siu3 gan2

I am smiling.
79cry(s)haam3我喊緊。

ngo5 haam3 gan2

I am crying.
80(w)huk1我在哭。

ngo5 zoi6 huk1

I am crying.
81make(s)zing2我整鞋。

ngo5 zing2 haai4

I make shoes.
82製造 (w)zai3 zou6我製造鞋。

ngo5 zai3 zou6 haai4

I make shoes.
83lie(s)aak1我知道你呃我。

ngo5 zi1 dou3 nei5 aak1 ngo5

I know you lied to me.
84欺騙 (w)hei1 pin3我知道你欺騙我。

ngo5 zi1 dou3 nei5 hei1 pin3 ngo5

I know you lied to me.
85hate(ws)zang1我憎你。

ngo5 zang1 nei5

I hate you.
86afraid(ws)paa3我怕你。

ngo5 paa3 nei5

I am afraid of you.

3. Helping Verbs

More Essential Verbs
#MeaningChinese CharactersRomanizationRomanization
87have(ws)jau5我有三隻狗。

ngo5 jau5 saam1 zek3 gau2

I have three dogs.
88not have(s)mou5我冇錢。

ngo5 mou5 cin2

I don’t have money.
89沒有(w)mut6 jau5我沒有錢。

ngo5 mut6 jau5 cin2

I don’t have money.
90can(s)sik1我識彈琴。

ngo5 sik1 taan4 kam4

I can play the piano.
91need(ws)jiu3我要去夏威夷。

ngo5 jiu3 heoi3 haa6 wai1 ji4

I need to go to Hawaii.
92want(ws)haan4我想飲咖啡。

ngo5 soeng2 jam2 gaa3 fe1

I want to drink coffee.
93do(ws)zou6做功課 

zou6 gung1 fo3

do homework
94should應該 (ws)jing1 goi1我應該問問題。

ngo5 jing1 goi1 man6 man6 tai4

I should ask questions.
95willing to(s)hang2我肯講廣東話。

ngo5 hang2 gong2 gwong2 dung1 waa2

I am willing to speak Cantonese.
96願意 (w)jyun6 ji3我願意講廣東話。

ngo5 jyun6 ji3 gong2 gwong2 dung1 waa2

I am willing to speak Cantonese.

4. Linking Verbs

Negative verbs
#MeaningChinese CharactersRomanizationExample
97be(s)hai6我係Olivia。

ngo5 hai6 Olivia

I am Olivia.
98(w)si6我是Olivia。

ngo5 si6 Olivia

I am Olivia.
99not be唔係 (s)m4 hai6我唔係男人。

ngo5 m4 hai6 naam4 jan2

I’m not a guy.
100不是 (w)bat1 si6我不是男人。

ngo5 bat1 si6 naam4 jan2

I’m not a guy.

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

With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through 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!

And keep in mind that if you prefer a one-on-one learning approach and want to further accelerate your Cantonese learning, you can take advantage of our MyTeacher program

Before you go, let us know in the comments if there’s a verb in Cantonese you still want to know, or if you’re still struggling with anything we covered in this article. We look forward to hearing from you!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Cantonese

Your Ultimate Guide to Cantonese Pronouns

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Pronouns can help you better articulate and express your ideas by allowing you to avoid repeating the same nouns over and over again. There are various pronouns in English, such as personal pronouns like “he,” “she,” “it,” “our,” and “theirs”; demonstrative pronouns like “this” and “that”; and indefinite pronouns like “somebody” and “nowhere.” 

These pronouns are very useful when it comes to facilitating communication—think how clumsy it would sound to say “Peter really likes Peter’s own voice and Peter’s own appearance,” and “Sharon and Sharon’s sister are looking for Sharon’s mother!” 

Have you ever wondered what Cantonese pronouns there are? Are you curious to learn how you can use them to communicate your thoughts more effectively? We’ve prepared a list of Cantonese pronouns and respective examples for you. Read on to find out more!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Cantonese Personal Pronouns
  2. Demonstrative Pronouns
  3. Interrogative Pronouns
  4. Indefinite Pronouns
  5. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Cantonese Personal Pronouns

A Group of People

We’ve divided the pronouns into singular (e.g. “I,” “you,” “he,” “she”) and plural (e.g. “we,” “they”) for your easy reference. Note that there isn’t an honorific version of pronouns in Cantonese, and both the words and example phrases below are in spoken form:

1- Singular

Introducing Yourself

1- 你

Meaning: you

Romanization: nei5

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 你鐘意咖啡。
  • Romanization: nei5 zung1 ji3 gaa3 fe1
  • Meaning: You like coffee.

2- 我

Meaning: I

Romanization: ngo5

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 我想改變世界。
  • Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 goi2 bin3 sai3 gaai3
  • Meaning: I want to change the world.

3- 佢

Meaning: she / he / it

Romanization: keoi5

Note: There are no differences between “he,” “she,” or “it” in Cantonese. You can use 佢 for all circumstances.

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 佢好得意。
  • Romanization: keoi5 hou2 dak1 ji3
  • Meaning: She / He / It is cute.

4-  你嘅

Meaning: your / yours   

Romanization: nei5 ge3

Example 1 – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 我好想睇穿你嘅心。
  • Romanization: ngo5 hou2 soeng2 tai2 cyun1 nei5 ge3 sam1
  • Meaning: I want to see right through your heart.

Example 2 – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 係你嘅。
  • Romanization: hai6 nei5 ge3
  • Meaning: It’s yours.

5-  我嘅

Meaning: my / mine

Romanization: ngo5 ge3

Example 1 – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 我嘅天堂
  • Romanization: ngo5 ge3 tin1 tong4
  • Meaning: My paradise

Example 2 – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 你係我嘅。
  • Romanization: nei5 hai6 ngo5 ge3
  • Meaning: You are mine.

6-  佢嘅

Meaning: her / his / its / hers

Romanization: keoi5 ge3

Example 1 – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 佢嘅答覆
  • Romanization: keoi5 ge3 daap3 fuk1
  • Meaning: His / her reply

Example 2 – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 唔係佢嘅。
  • Romanization: m4 hai6 keoi5 ge3
  • Meaning: It’s not his / hers.

2- Plural

7- 你哋

Meaning: you guys

Romanization: nei5 dei6

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 你哋無做錯到。
  • Romanization: nei5 dei6 mou4 zou6 co3 dou3
  • Meaning: You guys didn’t do anything wrong.

8- 我哋

Meaning: we / us

Romanization: ngo5 dei6

Example 1 – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 我哋係香港人。
  • Romanization: ngo5 dei6 hai6 hoeng1 gong2 jan4
  • Meaning: We are Hong Kongers.

Example 2 – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 佢同我哋講佢係警察。
  • Romanization: keoi5 tung4 ngo5 dei6 gong2 keoi5 hai6 ging2 caat3
  • Meaning: He told us he is a cop.

9-  佢哋

Meaning: they / them

Romanization: keoi5 dei6

Example 1 – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 佢哋係醫生。
  • Romanization: keoi5 dei6 hai6 ji1 sang1
  • Meaning: They are doctors.

Example 2 – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 你其實都好關心佢哋。
  • Romanization: nei5 kei4 sat6 dou1 hou2 gwaan1 sam1 keoi5 dei6
  • Meaning: Actually, you care about them.

10- 你哋嘅

Meaning: your / yours (plural)

Romanization: nei5 dei6 ge3

Example 1 – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 發揮你哋嘅創意。
  • Romanization: faat3 fai1 nei5 dei6 ge3 cong3 ji3
  • Meaning: Let your imagination go wild.

Example 2 – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 呢啲係你哋嘅。
  • Romanization: ni1 di1 hai6 nei5 dei6 ge3
  • Meaning: These are yours.

11- 我哋嘅

Meaning: our / ours

Romanization: ngo5 dei6 ge3

Example 1 – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 我哋嘅字典
  • Romanization: ngo5 dei6 ge3 zi6 din2
  • Meaning: Our dictionary

Example 2 – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 字典係我哋嘅。
  • Romanization: zi6 din2 hai6 ngo5 dei6 ge3
  • Meaning: The dictionary is ours.

12-  佢哋嘅

Meaning: their / theirs

Romanization: keoi5 dei6 ge3

Example 1 – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 佢哋嘅文化
  • Romanization: keoi5 dei6 ge3 man4 faa3
  • Meaning: Their culture

Example 2 – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 可能係佢哋嘅。
  • Romanization: ho2 nang4 hai6 keoi5 dei6 ge3
  • Meaning: Maybe it’s theirs.

2. Demonstrative Pronouns

Image Gallery

1- 呢個

Meaning: this

Romanization: ni1 go3

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 呢個係我嘅電話。
  • Romanization: ni1 go3 hai6 ngo5 ge3 din6 waa2
  • Meaning: This is my cell.

2- 嗰個

Meaning: that

Romanization: go2 go3

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 嗰個人
  • Romanization: go2 go3 jan4
  • Meaning: That person

3- 呢啲

Meaning: these

Romanization: ni1 di1

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 呢啲珍珠好韌㗎。
  • Romanization: ni1 di1 zan1 zyu1 hou2 jan6 gaa3
  • Meaning: These bubbles are very chewy.

4- 嗰啲

Meaning: those

Romanization: go2 di1

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 嗰啲蟬嘅聲音, 我覺得好好聽㗎。
  • Romanization: go2 di1 sim4 ge3 sing1 jam1, ngo5 gok3 dak1 hou2 hou2 teng1 gaa3
  • Meaning: I love the sound of those cicadas. 

5- 呢度

Meaning: here

Romanization: ni1 dou6   

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 呢度係香港。
  • Romanization: ni1 dou6 hai6 hoeng1 gong2
  • Meaning: Hong Kong is here.

6- 嗰度

Meaning: there

Romanization: go2 dou6

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 嗰度好靚。
  • Romanization: go2 dou6 hou2 leng3
  • Meaning: It’s beautiful there.

3. Interrogative Pronouns

Basic Questions

1- 乜嘢

Meaning: what

Romanization: mat1 je5

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 乜嘢係通貨膨脹呀?
  • Romanization: mat1 je5 hai6 tung1 fo3 paang4 zoeng3 aa3
  • Meaning: What is inflation?

2- 邊個

Meaning: who

Romanization: bin1 go3

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 邊個超級英雄係最強㗎呢?
  • Romanization: bin1 go3 ciu1 kap1 jing1 hung4 hai6 zeoi3 koeng4 gaa3 ne1 
  • Meaning: Who is the strongest superhero?

3- 邊個嘅

Meaning: whose

Romanization: bin1 go3 ge3

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 部電話係邊個嘅?
  • Romanization: bou6 din6 waa6 hai6 bin1 go3 ge3
  • Meaning: Whose phone is it?

4- 幾時

Meaning: when

Romanization: gei2 si4

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 幾時得閒呀?
  • Romanization: gei2 si4 dak1 haan4 aa3
  • Meaning: When are you free?

5- 邊度

Meaning: where

Romanization: bin1 dou6 

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 邊度有廁所呀? 
  • Romanization: bin1 dou6 jau5 ci3 so2 aa3
  • Meaning: Where is the toilet?

6- 點樣

Meaning: how

Romanization: dim2 joeng2

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 應該點樣準備呢?
  • Romanization: jing1 goi1 dim2 joeng2 zeon2 bei6 ne1
  • Meaning: How should I prepare?

7- 點解

Meaning: why

Romanization: dim2 gaai2 

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 點解想做呢份工?
  • Romanization: dim2 gaai2 soeng2 zou6 ni1 fan6 gung1
  • Meaning: Why do you want this job?

4. Indefinite Pronouns

A Blank Paper

As opposed to English, there isn’t a set of pronouns in Cantonese with the fixed prefixes of “every-,” “any-,” or “some-.” As such, we’ve instead included the Cantonese equivalents of common indefinite pronouns below:

1- 所有嘢

Meaning: everything

Romanization: so2 jau5 je5

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 所有嘢都會同老婆交代。
  • Romanization: so2 jau5 je5 dou1 wui3 tung4 lou5 po4 gaau1 doi6
  • Meaning: I will tell my wife everything.

2- 所有人

Meaning: everybody

Romanization: so2 jau5 jan4

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 所有人都鐘意你。
  • Romanization: so2 jau5 jan4 dou1 zung1 ji3 nei5
  • Meaning: Everybody likes you.

3- 邊度

Meaning: everywhere

Romanization: bin1 dou6 

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 邊度都見到你。
  • Romanization: bin1 dou6 dou1 gin3 dou2 nei5
  • Meaning: You’re everywhere.

4- 一啲嘢

Meaning: something

Romanization: jat1 di1 je5

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 如果二零一九年要捨棄一啲嘢,我最想捨棄一啲壞習慣。
  • Romanization: jyu4 gwo2 ji6 ling4 jat1 gau2 nin4 jiu3 se2 hei3 jat1 di1 je5, ngo5 zeoi3 soeng2 se2 hei3 jat1 di1 waai6 zaap6 gwaan3
  • Meaning: If I must let go of something in 2019, I want to let go of my bad habits.

5- 一啲人

Meaning: somebody

Romanization: jat1 di1 jan4   

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 係一啲人嘅問題。
  • Romanization: hai6 jat1 di1 jan4 ge3 man6 tai4
  • Meaning: That’s somebody’s problem.

6- 某啲地方

Meaning: somewhere

Romanization: mau5 di1 dei6 fong1 

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 某啲地方一定有所犧牲。
  • Romanization: mau5 di1 dei6 fong1 jat1 ding6 jau5 so2 hei1 sang1
  • Meaning: There will be sacrifices somewhere.

7- 冇嘢

Meaning: nothing

Romanization: mou5 je5

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 我冇嘢講。
  • Romanization: ngo5 mou5 je5 gong2
  • Meaning: I have nothing to say.

8- 冇人

Meaning: no one

Romanization: mou5 jan4  

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 冇人係完美。
  • Romanization: mou5 jan4 hai6 jyun4 mei5
  • Meaning: No one is perfect.

9- 冇地方

Meaning: nowhere

Romanization: mou5 dei6 fong1

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 冇地方住
  • Romanization: mou5 dei6 fong1 zyu6
  • Meaning: I got nowhere to live.

10- 乜嘢

Meaning: anything

Romanization: mat1 je5 

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 乜嘢都有可能。
  • Romanization: mat1 je5 dou1 jau5 ho2 nang4
  • Meaning: Anything is possible.

11- 乜人

Meaning: anyone

Romanization: mat1 jan4   

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 乜人都可以申請。
  • Romanization: mat1 jan4 dou1 ho2 ji5 san1 cing2
  • Meaning: Anyone can apply.

12- 乜嘢地方

Meaning: anywhere

Romanization: mat1 je5 dei6 fong1

Example – 

  • Sentence / Phrase: 我乜嘢地方都可以瞓得着。
  • Romanization: ngo5 mat1 je5 dei6 fong1 dou1 ho2 ji5 fan3 dak1 zoek6
  • Meaning: I can fall asleep anywhere.

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

Improve Listening

Cantonese pronouns are extremely useful in our daily conversations, and we hope by now you’ve memorized some Cantonese pronouns and are ready to use them. Do check out our articles on Cantonese nouns and Cantonese adjectives as well, and be sure to let us know in the comments if you have any questions! 

Want to level up your Cantonese after mastering Cantonese pronouns? With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through 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!

And keep in mind that if you prefer a one-on-one learning approach and want to further accelerate your Cantonese learning, you can take advantage of our MyTeacher program
Know that your hard work will pay off, and before you know it, you’ll be speaking Cantonese like a native!

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

Premium PLUS: The Golden Ticket for Language-Learning

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Do you remember the moment you fell in love with languages?

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As an active Premium PLUS member of JapanesePod101.com and KoreanClass101.com myself, I have an enjoyable experience learning at an accelerated pace with at least thirty minutes of study daily. The following Premium PLUS features contribute to my success:

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Pronunciation is an essential ingredient in language-learning. Proper pronunciation prompts clear understanding during conversations with native speakers.

Prior to learning full Korean sentences, my online Korean language tutor assigned the “Hana Hana Hangul” pathway to me. It demonstrated the writing and pronunciation of Hangul, the Korean alphabet. Throughout this pathway, I submitted recordings of my Hangul character pronunciations to my language teacher for review.

I was given a similar task on JapanesePod101.com with the “Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide” pathway. My Japanese language teacher tested my pronunciation of the Japanese characters kana. My completion of the two pathways boosted my confidence in speaking.

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The host asks the following question:

어디에 살고 있습니까?

eodieseo salgo isseumnikka

“Where do you live?”

If you live in Tokyo, you would readily say the following:

도쿄에 살고 있습니다.

Tokyo-e salgo isseumnida.

“I live in Tokyo.”

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은행 계좌를 만들고 싶어요

eunhaeng gyejwaleul mandeulgo sip-eoyo.

I want to open a bank account.

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