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Cantonese Phrases for Advanced Learners

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Are you an advanced Cantonese learner or aiming to become one? If you’ve decided to step up your game by consuming content made for native speakers, like Cantonese songs and movies, I bet you’re getting a little confused. 

Advanced Cantonese content tends to be full of idioms, slang, and proverbs that make no sense when translated literally. A traditional approach won’t cut it; you’ll have to learn not only words but also entire phrases. 

In this article, we have listed 40+ advanced Cantonese phrases and sentences for advanced learners that will help you level up. Some of them are straightforward and easy to understand, while others are heavily idiomatic and will just require memorization. 

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Learn all the advanced phrases you need!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Useful Phrases for Academics
  2. Power Phrases for Resumes and Interviews
  3. Smart Phrases for Business and Meetings
  4. Advanced Idioms, Phrases, and Proverbs for Everyday Usage
  5. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Useful Phrases for Academics

A Female Graduate Holding a Diploma and Smiling

Do you plan on attending university in Hong Kong? Then you’re going to need a specific set of advanced Cantonese vocabulary for academic settings. In this section, we’ll introduce you to phrases for academic writing and for discussions. 

Academic Writing

1 – 參考書目如下。

Romanization: caam1 haau2 syu1 muk6 jyu4 haa6.
Meaning: Please find the bibliography below.

2 – 文章冇列明任何來源。

Romanization: man4 zoeng1 mou5 lit6 ming4 jam6 ho4 loi4 jyun4.
Meaning: This article does not specify the sources.

3 – 引文格式

Romanization: jan5 man4 gaak3 sik1
Meaning: Citation format


Discussions

1 – 大家有咩意見或者諗法?

Romanization: daai6 gaa1 jau5 me1 ji3 gin3 waak6 ze2 nam2 faat3?
Meaning: Does anyone have any opinions or thoughts?

2 – 講一個你成功處理工作困難嘅例子。

Romanization: gong2 jat1 go3 nei5 sing4 gung1 cyu5 lei5 gung1 zok3 kwan3 naan4 ge3 lai6 zi2.
Meaning: Give me an example of a time when you overcame a challenge at work.


2. Power Phrases for Resumes and Interviews

One Person Extending Their Hand for a Handshake while the Other Person Stands with Crossed Arms

While crafting your resume or having an interview, it’s important that you know how to articulate your worth to the company. Here are six advanced Cantonese phrases to get you started! 

1 – Talking about your university

Chinese Character: 我喺_____畢業。
Romanization: ngo5 hai2 __________ bat1 jip6.
Meaning: I graduated from __________.

Example
Chinese Character: 我喺中文大學畢業。
Romanization: ngo5 hai2 zung1 man4 daai6 hok6 bat1 jip6.
Meaning: I graduated from The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

2 – Talking about your major

Chinese Character: 我主修_____。
Romanization: ngo5 zyu2 sau1 __________.
Meaning: I majored in __________.

Example
Chinese Character: 我主修數學。
Romanization: ngo5 zyu2 sau1 sou3 hok6.
Meaning: I majored in mathematics.

3 – Talking about your current job

Chinese Character: 直至現時為止,我係_____嘅_____。
Romanization: zik6 zi3 jin6 si4 wai4 zi2, ngo5 hai6 ______ ge3 ______.
Meaning: Until now, I have been working as ______ at ______.

Example
Chinese Character: 直⾄現時為⽌,我係ABC公司嘅會計。
Romanization: zik6 zi3 jin6 si4 wai4 zi2, ngo5 hai6 ABC gung1 si1 ge3 wui6 gai3.
Meaning: Until now, I have been working as an accountant at ABC Company.

4 – Talking about your work experience

Chinese Character: 我仲做過_____。
Romanization: ngo5 zung6 zou6 gwo3 _________.
Meaning: I also have experience as a(n) __________.

Example
Chinese Character: 我仲做過項目經理。
Romanization: ngo5 zung6 zou6 gwo3 hong6 muk6 ging1 lei5.
Meaning: I also have experience as a project manager.

5 – Talking about your desire to make the move

Chinese Character: 因為我想_____。
Romanization: jan1 wai6 ngo5 soeng2 _____.
Meaning: Because I want to _____.

Example
Chinese Character: 因為我想增值自己。
Romanization: jan1 wai6 ngo5 soeng2 zang1 zik6 zi6 gei2.
Meaning: Because I want to progress (myself).

6 – Talking about why you want to work for the company

Chinese Character: 我鍾意_____,同埋想嘗試其他嘢。
Romanization: ngo5 zung1 ji3_____, tung4 maai4 soeng2 soeng4 si3 kei4 taa1 je5.
Meaning: I like_____, and I wanted to try something else.

Example
Chinese Character: 我鍾意接受挑戰,同埋想嘗試其他嘢。
Romanization: ngo5 zung1 ji3 zip3 sau6 tiu1 zin3, tung4 maai4 soeng2 soeng4 si3 kei4 taa1 je5.
Meaning: I like challenges, and I wanted to try something else.


3. Smart Phrases for Business and Meetings

Business Diagram

Do you want to stand out in the workplace and during meetings? Here are several advanced phrases in Cantonese that you can use to make yourself heard, articulate your thoughts, and leave a good impression on your colleagues. 

1 – Giving suggestions

Chinese Character: 你應該_____。
Romanization: nei5 jing1 goi1_____.
Meaning: You should_____.

Example
Chinese Character: 你應該接受挑戰。
Romanization: nei5 jing1 goi1 zip3 sau6 tiu1 zin3.
Meaning: You should accept the challenge.

2 – Commenting on a suggestion

Chinese Character: 你嘅建議_____。
Romanization: nei5 ge3 gin3 ji5_____.
Meaning: Your suggestion_____.

Example
Chinese Character: 你嘅建議不獲採納。
Romanization: nei5 ge3 gin3 ji5 bat1 wok6 coi2 naap6.
Meaning: Your suggestion was not accepted.

3 – Expressing your opinion

Chinese Character: 我認為_____。
Romanization: ngo5 jing6 wai4 ______.
Meaning: I think ______.

Example
Chinese Character: 我認為我哋要擴展服務範圍。
Romanization: ngo5 jing6 wai4 ngo5 dei6 jiu3 kwong3 zin2 fuk6 mou6 faan6 wai4.
Meaning: I think that we should broaden our offer.9

4 – Showing your agreement

Chinese Character: 我同意_____。
Romanization: ngo5 tung4 ji3 _________.
Meaning: I agree (with) __________.

Example
Chinese Character: 我同意你嘅方案,我哋應該喺尖沙咀開分店。
Romanization: ngo5 tung4 ji3 nei5 ge3 fong1 on3, ngo5 dei6 jing1 goi1 hai2 zim1 saa1 zeoi2 hoi1 fan1 dim3.
Meaning: I agree with your proposal that we should open a branch in Tsim Sha Tsui.

5 – Showing your disagreement

Chinese Character: 我嘅諗法唔同。
Romanization: ngo5 ge3 nam2 faat3 m4 tung4.
Meaning: I have a different opinion.

Example
Chinese Character: 我嘅諗法唔同,我哋要有新嘢畀個市場。
Romanization: ngo5 ge3 nam2 faat3 m4 tung4, ngo5 dei6 jiu3 jau5 san1 je5 bei2 go3 si5 coeng4.
Meaning: I have a different opinion. We have to bring something new to the market.

6 – Providing feedback on a suggestion

Chinese Character: 聽起嚟_____。
Romanization: teng1 hei2 lei4 _________.
Meaning: Sounds like _________.

Example
Chinese Character: 聽起嚟有啲複雜。
Romanization: teng1 hei2 lei4 jau5 di1 fuk1 zaap6.
Meaning: This sounds a little bit complicated.

7 – Thanking someone for his/her support

Chinese Character: 多謝你嘅支持。
Romanization: do1 ze6 nei5 ge3 zi1 ci4.
Meaning: Thank you for your support.

Example
Chinese Character: 我哋衷心多謝你嘅支持。
Romanization: ngo5 dei6 cung1 sam1 do1 ze6 nei5 ge3 zi1 ci4.
Meaning: We sincerely appreciate your support.

8 – Asking for a meeting

Chinese Character: 我想約_____開會。
Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 joek3 _________ hoi1 wui2.
Meaning: I would like to set up a meeting for _________.

Example
Chinese Character: 我想約星期一開會。
Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 joek3 sing1 kei4 jat1 hoi1 wui2.
Meaning: I would like to set up a meeting for Monday.

9 – Asking if there’s anything else

Chinese Character: 仲有冇其他嘢?
Romanization: zung6 jau5 mou5 kei4 taa1 je5?
Meaning: Anything else?

Example
Chinese Character: 仲有冇其他嘢我可以幫到你?
Romanization: zung6 jau5 mou5 kei4 taa1 je5 ngo5 ho2 ji5 bong1 dou2 nei5?
Meaning: Is there anything else I can do to help?

10 – Letting the other person know what you’d like to discuss

Chinese Character: 我想傾下_____。
Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 king1 haa5 _____.
Meaning: I want to discuss _____.

Example
Chinese Character: 我想傾吓啲細節。
Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 king1 haa5 di1 sai3 zit3.
Meaning: I want to discuss the details.

11 – Inquiring about another person’s team at work

Chinese Character: 你條Team最近忙咩呀?
Romanization: nei5 tiu4 Team zeoi3 gan6 mong4 me1 aa3?
Meaning: What has your team been busy with recently?

Example
Chinese Character: 好耐冇見,你條Team最近忙咩呀?
Romanization: hou2 noi6 mou5 gin3, nei5 tiu4 Team zeoi3 gan6 mong4 me1 aa3?
Meaning: It’s been a while since we last met. What has your team been busy with recently?

12 – Starting a conversation with a coworker when you haven’t talked in a while

Chinese Character: 近排點呀?
Romanization: gan6 paai2 dim2 aa3?
Meaning: How’s it going recently?

Example
Chinese Character: 早晨呀,Tim,近排點呀?
Romanization: zou2 san4 aa3, Tim, gan6 paai4 dim2 aa3?
Meaning: Good morning, Tim. How’s it going recently?

13 – Telling a coworker where you’re headed

Chinese Character: 我要去_____。
Romanization: ngo5 jiu3 heoi3 ______.
Meaning: I am going to ______.

Example
Chinese Character: 我要去會議室。
Romanization: ngo5 jiu3 heoi3 wui6 ji5 sat1.
Meaning: I am going to the meeting room.

14 – Letting your coworker know that you’re leaving

Chinese Character: 我走先喇。
Romanization: ngo5 zau2 sin1 laa3.
Meaning: I have to go now.

Example
Chinese Character: 我走先喇,聽日見!
Romanization: ngo5 zau2 sin1 laa3, ting1 jat6 gin3!
Meaning: I have to go now. See you tomorrow!


4. Advanced Idioms, Phrases, and Proverbs for Everyday Usage

A Notebook, Pencil, and Blue Plastic Letters

Learn the most commonly used idioms, sayings, and proverbs in Cantonese!

As an advanced Cantonese learner, you’re expected to be familiar with the most common idioms, proverbs, sayings, and greetings for special occasions. To make things convenient for you, we have listed them below and divided them into different categories. 

Life Event Messages

1 – Birthday wishes

Chinese Character: 祝你生日快樂,心想事成!
Romanization: zuk1 nei5 saang1 jat6 faai3 lok6, sam1 soeng2 si6 sing4!
Meaning: I wish you a happy birthday and that all your wishes come true!

2 – New Year wishes

Chinese Character: 新年快樂,恭喜發財!
Romanization: san1 nin4 faai3 lok6! gung1 hei2 faat3 coi4!
Meaning: May you have a happy and prosperous New Year!

3 – Graduation

Chinese Character: 恭喜你畢業,前程錦繡!
Romanization: gung1 hei2 nei5 bat1 jip6, cin4 cing4 gam2 sau3!
Meaning: Congratulations on your graduation, and best wishes for your next adventure!

4 – New job/promotion

Chinese Character: 恭喜恭喜,鴻圖大展,步步高升!
Romanization: gung1 hei2 gung1 hei2, hung4 tou4 daai6 zin2, bou6 bou6 gou1 sing1!
Meaning: Congratulations! Wishing you successful business development and more advancements in your career!

5 – Wedding

Chinese Character: 祝你哋白頭到老,永結同心!
Romanization: zuk1 nei5 dei6 baak6 tau4 dou3 lou5, wing5 git3 tung4 sam1!
Meaning: May you have a long-lasting marriage and forever stay as one!


Compliments

1 – 你笑得好靚。

Romanization: nei5 siu3 dak1 hou2 leng3.
Meaning: Your smile is beautiful.

2 – 你嘅表現超乎我預期。

Romanization: nei5 ge3 biu2 jin6 ciu1 fu4 ngo5 jyu6 kei4.
Meaning: You’ve exceeded my expectations.

3 – 你影相影得好靚。

Romanization: nei5 jing2 soeng2 jing2 dak1 hou2 leng3.
Meaning: You are good at taking pictures.

4 – 你好有品味。

Romanization: nei5 hou2 jau5 ban2 mei6.
Meaning: You have good taste.

5 – 你係一個好出色嘅廚師。

Romanization: nei5 hai6 jat1 go3 hou2 ceot1 sik1 ge3 cyu4 si1.
Meaning: You’re an excellent cook.


Idioms and Proverbs

1 – 豬乸會上樹

Romanization: zyu1 naa2 wui5 soeng5 syu6
Literal Translation: A sow can climb trees
English Equivalent: When pigs fly
Meaning: This phrase is used to refer to something that will never happen.

2 – 掛羊頭賣狗肉

Romanization: gwaa3 joeng4 tau4 maai6 gau2 juk6
Literal Translation: Hang up a sheep’s head and sell dog meat
Meaning: Palm off; deceive

3 – 大石砸死蟹。

Romanization: daai6 sek6 zaak6 sei2 haai5.
Literal Translation: A big rock weighs down on a crab.
Meaning: This refers to being coerced into making a decision under duress, having no choice in the matter.

4 – 牛唔飲水唔撳得牛頭低。

Romanization: ngau4 m4 jam2 seoi2 m4 gam6 dak1 ngau4 tau4 dai1.
Literal Translation: If a cow doesn’t want to drink, you can’t force its head down.
English Equivalent: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.
Meaning: A person is responsible for their own actions. While you can give them advice, it doesn’t mean they’ll take it.

5 – 老貓燒鬚。

Romanization: lou5 maau1 siu1 sou1.
Literal Translation: An old cat burns its whiskers.
Meaning: We use this idiom when someone makes a careless mistake in their area of expertise.

6 – 拉牛上樹

Romanization: laai1 ngau4 soeng5 syu6
Literal Translation: To pull a cow up a tree
Meaning: This phrase refers to an impossible goal that would simply require too much effort.

7 – 騎牛搵馬

Romanization: ke4 ngau4 wan2 maa5
Literal Translation: Riding a cow looking for a horse
Meaning: This idiom refers to using one’s current job to look for a better opportunity.

8 – 扯貓尾

Romanization: ce2 maau1 mei5
Literal Translation: Pull a cat’s tail
Meaning: This refers to putting on a show or colluding.

9 – 捉到鹿唔識脫角

Romanization: zuk1 dou2 luk2 m4 sik1 tyut3 gok3
Literal Translation: Got hold of the deer but can’t remove its antlers
Meaning: This refers to being unable to make the most of an opportunity.

10 – 豬籠入水

Romanization: zyu1 lung4 jap6 seoi2
Literal Translation: Water enters a pig basket
English Equivalent: To make a fortune
Meaning: This phrase means that someone has made a lot of money.

11 – 食碗面反碗底

Romanization: sik6 wun2 min2 faan2 wun2 dai2
Literal Translation: Eat from a bowl and then turn it over
Meaning: This one refers to betraying someone.

12 – 禾稈冚珍珠

Romanization: wo4 gon2 kam2 zan1 zyu1
Literal Translation: Rice stalks covering pearls
Meaning: This refers to concealing one’s ability or wealth.

    ➜ Cantonese idioms and proverbs are fun! Many of them are related to animals, food, and even ghosts! Learn more by reading our article Cantonese Proverbs and Idioms.

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

In this guide, we covered many advanced Cantonese phrases, from academic and business expressions to the most common idioms. While these phrases will definitely help you step up your game, don’t forget that learning a language is a journey—and it’s wise to continuously invest your time and energy!

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 where you can 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 1-on-1 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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