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How to Introduce Yourself in Cantonese

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

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

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

Table of Contents

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

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1. Identify Yourself

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

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

Romanization

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

Translation

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

Breakdown

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

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

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

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

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

Supplementing Sentences

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

Inquiring someone’s name:

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

Inquiring someone’s surname (for formal settings):

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

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


2. Occupation

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

A: 我係老師。

Romanization

A: ngo5 hai6 lou5 si1.

Translation

A: I am a teacher.

Breakdown

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

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

More Examples

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

Learn Cantonese vocabulary about occupations on our website.

Supplementing Sentences

Inquiring someone’s occupation:

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


3. Age

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

A: 你今年幾多歲?
B: 我今年十九歲。

Romanization

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

Translation

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

Breakdown

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

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

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

More Numbers

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

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

Supplementing Sentence

Alternative way to inquire someone’s age:

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


4. Countries and Nationalities

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

A: 你係邊度嚟㗎?
B: 我嚟自德國。

Romanization

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

Translation

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

Breakdown

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

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

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

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

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

Supplementing Sentences

Another way to talk about your nationality:

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

More Countries:

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

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


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

Now that you’ve mastered Cantonese self-introduction, it’s time to step up to the next level! With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through either your mobile apps, desktop software, or even our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture. Check out the below pages to learn more and practice!

We’ve delivered until now more than 750,000,000 lessons to thousands of happy students from all around the globe. You can learn Cantonese with over 1,060 audio and video lessons delivered by our knowledgeable and energetic hosts, detailed PDF lesson notes, abundance of vocabulary learning tools and spaced repetition flashcards, and a lively community to discuss the lessons with fellow learners. What are you waiting for? Download our lessons, enjoy our audio and video files, and start learning now!

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

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