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Stay Strong with These Intermediate Cantonese Words

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In a previous article, we introduced you to the most important beginner Cantonese words for those who are new to this fantastic language. But what if you’re not a newbie anymore? No worries—we’ve got you covered. We’ve put together this guide to intermediate Cantonese words, so you can continue adding to your Cantonese vocabulary well past the beginner stage. 

A Woman Studying on a Bus

Learn the intermediate words you need!

In this article, we’ll list the essential Cantonese words for the intermediate level that will allow you to handle many everyday situations, whether you want to talk, listen, or both. Keep reading!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Numbers
  2. Nouns
  3. Verbs
  4. Adjectives
  5. Adverbs
  6. Prepositions
  7. Conjunctions
  8. Final Particles
  9. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Numbers

As a beginner, you should be able to handle most situations knowing the basic numbers 1-10. But as you advance to the intermediate level, you’ll need to become familiar with even larger numbers!


Numbers on a Calculator

Here’s a quick reminder of the numbers 1-10 in Cantonese—we’ll need all of these numbers to count up to 1,000!

    ➢ 1: 一 (jat1)
    ➢ 2: 二 (ji6)
    ➢ 3: 三 (saam1)
    ➢ 4: 四 (sei3)
    ➢ 5: 五 (ng5)
    ➢ 6: 六 (luk6)
    ➢ 7: 七 (cat1)
    ➢ 8: 八 (baat3)
    ➢ 9: 九 (gau2)
    ➢ 10: 十 (sap6)

  • Count from 10 to 99
10

Now, if you want to express the tens (twenty, thirty, and so on), all you need to do is add the Cantonese equivalent of the first digit in front of 十 (sap6). 

Take 20, for example. The Cantonese equivalent of the first digit (“2”) is 二 (ji6). Adding 二 (ji6) in front of 十 (sap6) gives us 二十 (ji6 sap6) for 20.

    10: 十 (sap6)
    20: 二十 (ji6 sap6)
    30: 三十 (saam1 sap6)
    40: 四十 (sei3 sap6)
    50: 五十 (ng5 sap6)
    60: 六十 (luk6 sap6)
    70: 七十 (cat1 sap6)
    80: 八十 (baat3 sap6)
    90: 九十 (gau2 sap6)

Expressing the numbers from 11 to 99 in Cantonese is easy and similar to English. 

For example:

  • 11 = 10 + 1 十 (sap6) + 一 (jat1)
  • 21 = 20 + 1 二十 (ji6 sap6) + 一 (jat1)

As you can see, you only need to know the name of the appropriate “ten” in Cantonese and then add one of the numbers from 1-9 after it. 

    11: 十一 (sap6 jat1)
    22: 二十二 (ji6 sap6 ji6)
    33: 三十三 (saam1 sap6 saam1)
    44: 四十四 (sei3 sap6 sei3)
    55: 五十五 (ng5 sap6 ng5)
    66: 六十六 (luk6 sap6 luk6)
    77: 七十七 (cat1 sap6 cat1)
    88: 八十八 (baat3 sap6 baat3)
    99: 九十九 (gau2 sap6 gau2)

  • Count from 100 to 1,000
100

百 (baak3) is equivalent to “hundred” in English. If you want to express 100, 200, and so on, just add the Cantonese equivalent of the first digit in front of 百 (baak3). 

Take 200, for example. The Cantonese equivalent of the first digit (“2”) is 二 (ji6). Adding 二 (ji6) in front of 百 (baak3) gives us 二百  (ji6 baak3) for 200.

When the number reaches a thousand, we use 千 (cin1) in place of 百 (baak3). As such, 一千 (jat1 cin1) is 1000.

Counting by hundreds, here are the Cantonese numbers from 100 to 1,000:

    100: 一百 (jat1 baak3)
    200: 二百 (ji6 baak3)
    300: 三百 (saam1 baak3)
    400: 四百 (sei3 baak3)
    500: 五百 (ng5 baak3)
    600: 六百 (luk6 baak3)
    700: 七百 (cat1 baak3)
    800: 八百 (baat3 baak3)
    900: 九百 (gau2 baak3)
    1,000: 一千 (jat1 cin1)

Again, expressing 101 up to 999 in Cantonese is simple and similar to English. 

For example, if you wanted to express 121, you would just need to combine “100” (一百 [jat1 baak3]) and “21” (二十一 [ji6 sap6 jat1]). This would give you 一百二十一 (jat1 baak3 ji6 sap6 jat1). 

Note that if the second digit of a three-digit number is “0,” we need to add a zero 零 (ling4) in the corresponding position. Do not pronounce the ending zeros in 200 (二百 [ji6 baak3]) but do pronounce them in 201 (二百 [ji6 baak3 ling4 jat1]), for example. 

Let’s look at the Cantonese number for 207 to dissect this a little bit: 

  • 200” 二百 (ji6 baak3) + “0” 零 (ling4) + “7” 七 (cat1)

Hence, 207 reads as 二百零七 (ji6 baak3 ling4 cat1).

When you encounter longer numbers in the future, no matter how many consecutive zeros you see, you’ll only need to say “zero” once to represent a row of zeros. For example, 3,047 reads as 三千零四十八 (saam1 cin1 ling4 sei3 sap6 baat3).

Here are some more examples of triple-digit Cantonese numbers: 

    108: 一百零八 (jat1 baak3 ling4 baat3)
    166: 一百六十六 (jat1 baak3 luk6 sap6 luk6)
    230: 二百三十 (ji6 baak3 saam1 sap6)
    344: 三百四十四 (saam1 baak3 sei3 sap6 sei3)
    456: 四百五十六 (sei3 baak3 ng5 sap6 luk6)
    550: 五百五十 (ng5 baak3 ng5 sap6)
    612: 六百一十二 (luk6 baak3 jat1 sap6 ji6)
    722: 七百二十二 (cat1 baak3 ji6 sap6 ji6)
    805: 八百零五 (baat3 baak3 ling4 ng5)
    910: 九百一十 (gau2 baak3 jat1 sap6)

2. Nouns

Nouns are vital in our everyday conversations. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to communicate effectively or talk about people, objects, places, or ideas.

In our guide to beginner words, we covered survival nouns like those for places around town, people, and food. Now let’s put more nouns in your pocket, ranging in topic from technology to hobbies!

Noun

  • Technology – 科技 (fo1 gei6)

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1互聯網wu6 lyun4 mong5“internet”
2搜尋 sau2 cam4“search”
3下載haa6 zoi3“download”
4上載 soeng6 zoi3“upload”
5網頁mong5 jip6“webpage”
6社交媒體se5 gaau1 mui4 tai2“social media”
7電子郵件din6 zi2 jau4 gin2“email”
8電腦din6 nou5“computer”
9手機sau2 gei1“mobile phone”
10叉電器caa1 din6 hei3“charger”

  • Appliances – 電器 (din6 hei3)

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1微波爐mei4 bo1 lou4“microwave oven”
2吸塵機kap1 can4 gei1“vacuum cleaner”
3雪櫃syut3 gwai6“refrigerator”
4風扇fung1 sin3“fan”
5爐頭lou4 tau4“stove”
6電視din6 si6“TV”
7氣炸鍋hei3 zaa3 wo1“air fryer”
8洗衣機sai2 ji1 gei1“washing machine”
9冷氣機laang5 hei3 gei1“air conditioner”
10風筒fung1 tung2“hair dryer”

  • Transportation – 交通 (gaau1 tung1)

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1飛機fei1 gei1“airplane”
2地鐵dei6 tit3“subway”
3小巴siu2 baa1“minibus”
4巴士baa1 si2“bus” 
5渡輪dou6 leon4“ferry” 
6電車din6 ce1“tram”
7的士dik1 si2“taxi” 
8巴士站baa1 si2 zaam6“bus stop”
9機場gei1 ceong4“airport” 
10車費ce1 fai3(taxi/tram/bus/carriers with wheels) “fare”

  • Hobbies – 興趣 (hing3 ceoi3)

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1書法syu1 faat3“calligraphy”
2結他git3 taa1“guitar”
3鋼琴gong3 kam4“piano”
4喇叭laa3 baa1“trumpet”
5小提琴siu2 tai4 kam4“violin”
6音樂jam1 ngok6“music”
7搖滾音樂jiu4 gwan2 jam1 ngok6“rock music”
8攝影sip3 jing2“photography”
9kei2“chess” 
10閱讀jyut6 duk6“reading”

  • Weather – 天氣 (tin1 hei3)

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1温度wan1 dou6“temperature”
2濕度sap1 dou6“humidity”
3颱風toi4 fung1“typhoon”
4fung1“wind”
5落雨lok6 jyu5“rain”
6行雷hang4 leoi4“thunder”
7閃電sim2 din6“lightning”
8攝氏 [number] 度sip3 si6 [num] dou6“[number] degrees Celsius”
9落雪syut3“snow”
10彩虹coi2 hung4“rainbow”
11太陽taai3 joeng4“sun”

  • Dining – 用膳 (jung6 sin6)

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1貼士tip1 si2“tip”
2侍應si6 jing3“waitress” / “waiter”
3晚餐maan5 caan1“dinner”
4中菜zung1 coi3Chinese food
5筷子faai3 zi2“chopsticks”
6餐單caan1 daan1“menu”
7帳單zoeng3 daan1“bill”
8seoi2“water”
9匙羹ci4 gang1“spoon”
10dou1“knife”
11caa1“fork”
12信用卡seon3 jung6 kaat1“credit card”

3. Verbs

Here are some useful Cantonese verbs for you to learn as an intermediate student. Practicing these words will help you better express yourself and ensure you always have just the right action word at hand.

Verb
  • Common Verbs

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1詛咒zo3 zau3 “to curse”
2saan1“to close”
3醒 seng2“to wake up”
4faan2“to return”
5wan2 “to find”
6co5“to sit”
7參加caam1 gaa1“to participate”
8haam3“to cry”
9zing2“to make”
10aak1“to deceive”
11zang1“to hate”
12paa3“to fear”

  • Helping Verbs

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1jau5“to have”
2冇 mou5“to not have”
3sik1“to know” (can)
4jiu3“to need”
5想 soeng2“to want”
6zou6“to do”
7應該jing1 goi1“should”
8hang2“to be willing to”
9可以ho2 yi5“can”

  • Linking Verbs

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1hai6“to be”
2唔係 m4 hai6“not to be”

4. Adjectives

Adjectives are important in everyday language. They allow you to do everything from describing how pretty the girl sitting next to you is to expressing how spectacular you find the scenery. Below, you’ll find all the intermediate Cantonese adjectives you need to spice up your conversations or enrich your writing.

Adj.

  • Describing Colors

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1黑色hak1 sik1“black”
2藍色laam4 sik1“blue”
3灰色fui1 sik1“gray”
4綠色luk6 sik1“green”
5橙色caang2 sik1“orange”
6紫色zi2 sik1“purple”
7紅色hung4 sik1“red”
8青色ceng1 sik1“cyan-blue”
9米色mai5 sik1“beige”
10粉紅色fan2 hung4 sik1“pink”
11白色baak6 sik1“white”
12黃色wong4 sik1“yellow”
13啡色fe1 sik1“brown”

  • Describing Values and Conditions

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1co3“wrong”
2ngaam“right” / “correct”
3hou2“good”
4caa1 “bad” / “poor”
5naan4“difficult”
6ji6“easy”
7san1 “new”
8gau6“old”
9peng4“cheap”  
10gwai3      “expensive”
11後生hau6 saang1   “young”
12lou5“old”
13faai3“fast”
14maan6“slow”
15有用jau5 jung6“useful”
16冇用mou5 jung6“useless”
17waai6“bad” / “rotten”
18乾淨gon1 zeng6“clean”
19污糟wu1 zou1“dirty”
20cou4“noisy”
21zing6“quiet”
22joek6“weak”
23強壯koeng4 zong3“strong” (physically)
24hung1“empty”     

5. Adverbs

Verbs, nouns, and adjectives are essential for beginners, but as you advance to the intermediate level, it’s time to learn some adverbs too!

Adv.

  • Describing Time

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1已經ji5 ging1“already”
2馬上maa5 seong6“immediately”
3最近zeoi3 gan6“lately”
4上星期soeng6 sing1 kei4“last week”
5下星期haa6 sing1 kei4“next week”
6而家ji4 gaa1“now”
7好快hou2 faai3“soon”
8仍然jing4 jin4“still”
9今朝早gam1 ziu1 zou2“this morning”
10今日gam1 jat6“today”
11聽日ting1 jat6“tomorrow”
12今晚gam1 maam5“tonight”
13噚日cam4 jat6“yesterday”
14仲未zung6 mei6“yet”
15遲啲ci4 di1“later”
16近排gan6 paai2“recently”
17本來bun2 loi4“originally”
18曾經cang4 ging1“at once”
19初初co1 co1“in the beginning”
20嗰陣時go2 zan6 si6“at that time”
21前嗰排cin4 go2 paai2“a while ago”
22暫時zaam6 si4“temporarily”
23到時dou3 si4“then” (future)
24前日cin4 jat6“the day before”
25後日hau6 jat6“the day after”

  • Describing Frequency

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1成日seng4 jat6“always” / “all the time”
2永遠唔會wing5 jyun5 m4 wui5“never”
3好少hou2 siu2“rarely”
4有時jau5 si4“sometimes”
5密密mat6 mat6“frequently”
6平時ping4 si4“usually”
7間中gaan3 zung1“occasionally”
8唔常m4 soeng4“seldom”
9zoi3“again”
10mui5“every”

  • Describing Degree

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1一啲jat1 di1“a bit”
2好多hou2 do1“a lot”
3gau3“enough”
4tai3“too” / “excessively”
5唔係太m4 hai6 tai3“not too”
6淨係zing6 hai6“only”
7dak1“only…left”
8特別dak6 bit6“exceptionally”
9零舍ling4 se3“particularly”
10ciu1“super”

6. Prepositions

For intermediate-level language learners, it’s vital to begin constructing more comprehensive sentences! Therefore, we have included a list of prepositions below:

Prep.

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1喺…前面hai2…cin4 min6   “in front of”
2喺…後面hai2…hau6 min6   “behind”
3喺…上面hai2…soeng6 min6   “on top of”
4喺…下面hai2…haa6 min6   “under”
5外面ngoi6 min6  “outside”
6入面jap6 min6 “inside”
7之前zi1 cin4   “before”
8之後zi1 hau6   “after”
9直至zik6 zi3 “until”
10hai2“at” / “in”

7. Conjunctions

There’s lots to say and explain when it comes to Cantonese conjunctions. But luckily, you don’t need to use many of them when you first start learning Cantonese.


Conj.

  • Coordinating Conjunctions

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1gan1“and” (more formal)
2jyu5“and” (more formal)
3kap6“and” (more formal)
4gung6“and” (more formal)
5tung4“and”
6waak6“or”
7還是waan4 si6“or” (more formal)

  • Subordinating Conjunctions / Adverbial Conjunctions

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1由於jau4 jyu1“since”
2所以so2 yi5“so”
3因此jan1 ci2“therefore” (more serious)
4故此gu3 ci2“thereby” (more formal)

  • Correlative Conjunctions / Adverbial Conjunctions

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1不但bat1 daan6“not only (…but also)” (more formal)
2唔單止m4 daan1 zi2“not only”
3況且fong3 ce2“additionally” / “not to mention”

8. Final Particles

In Cantonese, we have a special type of word called a “final particle.” Final particles themselves are meaningless, but when placed at the end of a sentence, they indicate the mood or attitude of the speaker. Using them also makes one’s speech more colloquial.

Emojis

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationFunction
1wo3Indicates surprise or disagreement
2gwaa3Indicates assumption or uncertainty
3ze1Indicates sarcasm; “only”
4㗎喇gaa3 laa3Indicates an exclamation with an emphasis on the past; “already”
5啦嘛laa1 maa3Indicates certainty (“of course”); used in questions to confirm a situation 
6sin1Indicates something new; “first” 
7tim1Indicates surprise due to unexpected changes; emphasizes an additional thing being mentioned
8zaa3Indicates disapproval; “just”
9之嘛zi1 maa3“only”
10呀吓aa4 haa2Indicates disapproval, surprise, or discontentment
11mei6Used in neutral questions to inquire about whether an action has been taken or not
12me1Indicates surprise or disbelief in question form
13ne1Used in questions to soften the tone when inquiring about facts
14maa3Used in questions to soften the tone when inquiring about actions

    → Intrigued by how useful these “meaningless” final particles can be? Check out our complete guide to Cantonese final particles to learn more!

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

Did you know any of these words already, or were they all new to you? Now that you’ve learned some more advanced vocabulary, you can try and write different sentences on your own! 

    → If you want to learn more about Cantonese characters and the writing system, visit our guide on CantoneseClass101.com.

If you’re ready to move on to the next level of Cantonese after learning these intermediate Cantonese words, try out 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.

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