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Basic Cantonese Conversation Starters

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Starting a conversation comes naturally to some people: they follow their instincts and just say whatever pops up in their heads. But some do find it intimidating – especially when you’re using a foreign language!

Once you are talking to someone, and you’re both engaged in an interesting topic, it’s easier to keep it going. But just like a slow and cold engine, the difficult part is to pick the right topics for conversation.  

Conversation starters in Cantonese depend on the situation: are you socializing with friends? Are you at work or at the university? Are you reconnecting with a friend? Wondering how to start a conversation in Cantonese? In any case, we got you covered!

Four Friends Chatting with Coffee Beverages

Make new friends with a nice Cantonese conversation starter!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Conversation Starters for Mingling and Socializing
  2. Conversation Starters for First Day at a New School or New Job
  3. Conversation Starters for a First Date
  4. Conversation Starters to Connect/ Reconnect with a Friend or a colleague
  5. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Conversation Starters for Mingling and Socializing 

There are lots of things you can chat about when you are with new friends or old acquaintances. As a foreign language learner, you can start your conversation by discussing languages and nationalities! Some other common topics to start a Cantonese conversation when mingling and socializing include weather, work, study, and family. 

A- Language and Nationalities

Cantonese Language

1- 你識唔識講英文*?

Romanization: nei5 sik1 m4 sik1 gong2 jing1 man2?
Meaning: Do you speak English?
Breakdown:

  • 你 (nei5) = “you”
  • 識 (sik1) = “know”
  • 唔識 (m4 sik1) = “not know”
  • 講 (gong2) = “speak”
  • 英文 (jing1 man2) = “English”

2- 我唔識講英文*

Romanization: ngo5 m4 sik1 gong2 jing1 man2.
Meaning: No, I don’t speak English.
Breakdown:

  • 我 (ngo5) = “I”
  • 唔識 (m4 sik1) = “not know”
  • 講 (gong2) = “speak”
  • 英文 (jing1 man2) = “English”

* You can change the underlined word with the language you intend to express. For a list of languages in Cantonese, visit our website, where we have listed the Top 38 Languages Spoken in the World!

3 – 你係邊度嚟㗎?

Romanization: nei5 hai6 bin1 dou6 lei4 gaa3?
Meaning: Where do you come from?
Breakdown:

  • (nei5) = “you”
  • (hai6) = “to be”
  • 邊度 (bin1 dou6) = “where”
  • (lei4) = “to come”
  • (gaa3) is a question particle.

4 – 我係美國*人。

Romanization: ngo5 hai6 mei5 gwok3 jan4.
Meaning: I am American.
Breakdown:

  • (ngo5) = “I”
  • (hai6) = “to be”
  • 美國 (mei5 gwok3) = “United States”
  • (jan4) = “person”

* You can change the underlined word with the country (not nationality!) you intend to express. For a list of countries in Cantonese, visit our page on World Countries!

B- Weather

The Sun Shining in a Blue Sky

It’s hot out there!

5 – 我覺得好熱*

Romanization: ngo5 gok3 dak1 hou2 jit6.
Meaning: I feel very hot.
Breakdown:

  • (ngo5) = “I”
  • 覺得 (gok3 dak1) = “feel”
  • (hou2) = “very”
  • (jit6) = “hot”

* You can change the underlined word with the word “凍” (dung3) if you feel cold.

6 – 天氣點呀?

Romanization: tin1 hei3 dim5 aa1?
Meaning: How’s the weather?
Breakdown:

  • 天氣 (tin1 hei3) = “weather”
  • (dim5) = “how”
  • (aa1) is a question particle.

7 – 我覺得今日好潮濕 。

Romanization: ngo5 gok3 dak1 gam1 jat6 hou2 ciu4 sap1.
Meaning: I think that it’s very humid today.
Breakdown:

  • (ngo5) = “I”
  • 覺得 (gok3 dak1) = “feel”
  • 今日 (gam1 jat6) = “today”
  • (hou2) = “very”
  • 潮濕 (ciu4 sap1) = “humid”

8- 今日太曬喇 。

Romanization: gam1 jat6 taai3 saai3 laa3.
Meaning: It is too sunny today.
Breakdown:

  • 今日 (gam1 jat6) = “today”
  • (taai3) = “too”
  • (saai3) = “sunny”
  • (laa3) is a particle.

9- 今日幾多度呀?

Romanization: gam1 jat6 gei2 do1 dou6 aa3?
Meaning: What’s the temperature today?
Breakdown:

  • 今日 (gam1 jat6) = “today”
  • 幾多 (gei2 do1) = “how many,”
  • (dou6) = “degree”
  • (aa3) is a question particle.

C- Work, Study, and Family

A Guy Smiling While Facing the Camera, with Three People in the Background

Get to know the person!

10- 你做咩架?

Romanization: nei5 zou6 me1 gaa3?
Meaning: What do you do for a living?
Breakdown:

  • (nei5) = “you”
  • (zou6) = “do”
  • (me1) = “what”
  • (gaa3) is a question particle.

11- 我係老師*

Romanization: ngo5 hai6 lou5 si1.
Meaning: I’m a teacher.
Breakdown:

  • (ngo5) = “I”
  • (hai6) = “to be”
  • 老師 (lou5 si1) = “teacher”

12- 我係學生*

Romanization: ngo5 hai6 hok6 sang1.
Meaning: I’m a student.
Breakdown:

  • (ngo5) = “I”
  • (hai6) = “to be”
  • 學生 (hok6 sang1) = “student”

* You can change the underlined word with the occupation you intend to express. For a list of occupations in Cantonese, visit 20 Common Words for Occupations.

13- 我主修數學

Romanization: ngo5 zyu2 sau1 sou3 hok6.
Meaning: I majored in mathematics.
Breakdown:

  • (ngo5) = “I”
  • 主修 (zyu2 sau1) = “major”
  • 數學 (sou3 hok6) = “mathematics”

* You can change the underlined word with the subject you intend to express. For a list of subjects in Cantonese, visit our vocabulary page for School Subjects

14- 你有冇兄弟姊妹呀?

Romanization: nei5 jau5 mou5 hing1 dai6 zi2 mui2 aa3?
Meaning: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
Breakdown:

  • (nei5) = “you”
  • (jau5) = “have”
  • (mou5) = “not have”
  • 兄弟姊妹 (hing1 dai6 zi2 mui2) = “siblings”
  • (aa3) is a question particle.

15- 我妹妹去咗英國留學。

Romanization: ngo5 mui4 mui2 heoi3 zo2 jing1 gwok3 lau4 hok6.
Meaning: My younger sister went to England to study abroad.
Breakdown:

  • (ngo5) = “I”
  • 妹妹 (mui4 mui2) = “younger sister”
  • (heoi3) = “go”
  • (zo2) indicates the past.
  • 英國 (jing1 gwok3) = “United Kingdom”
  • 留學 (lau4 hok6) = “study overseas”

2. Conversation Starters for First Day at a New School or New Job

Food and Travel are considered “safe” to discuss when you are new to a place or the people, and you don’t know much about the norm yet – they are considered less sensitive and less personal topics than some others like family, also, there are so much you can chat when it comes to these two topics and you can easily gear the conversation towards a more personal direction if you feel safe to bond!

Food and Travel

A Woman Taking Pictures While Vacationing in France

Why not start your conversation with your recent trip to France!

16- 你食咗飯未呀?

Romanization: nei5 sik6 zo2 faan6 mei6 aa3? 
Meaning: Have you eaten?
Breakdown:

  • (nei5) = “you”
  • (sik6) = “eat”
  • (zo2) indicates the past.
  • (faan6) = “rice”
  • (mei6) = “yet”
  • (aa3) is a question particle.

17- 食咗喇。

Romanization: sik6 zo2 laa3
Meaning: Yes, I have eaten.
Breakdown:

  • (sik6) = “eat”
  • (zo2) indicates the past.
  • (laa3) is a particle.

18- 你鍾唔鍾意食廣東菜?

Romanization: nei5 zung1 m4 zung1 ji3 sik6 gwong2 dung1 coi3?
Meaning: Do you like Cantonese cuisine?
Breakdown:

  • (nei5) = “you”
  • 鍾唔鍾意 (zung1 m4 zung1 ji3) = “like or not like”
  • (sik6) = “eat”
  • 廣東菜 (gwong2 dung1 coi3)  = “Cantonese cuisine”

19- 鍾意,尤其係春卷。

Romanization: zung1 ji3, jau4 kei4 hai6 ceon1 gyun2.
Meaning: Yes, I especially love spring rolls.
Breakdown:

  • 鍾意 (zung1 m4) = “like”
  • 尤其 (jau4 kei4) = “especially”
  • (hai6) = “to be”
  • 春卷 (ceon1 gyun2)  = “spring roll”

20- 你有冇去過海洋公園*

Romanization: nei5 jau5 mou5 heoi3 gwo3 hoi2 joeng4 gung1 jyun2?
Meaning: Have you ever been to Ocean Park?
Breakdown:

  • (nei5) = “you”
  • (jau5) = “have”
  • (mou5) = “not have”
  • (heoi3) = “go”
  • (gwo3) = “already”
  • 海洋公園 (hoi2 joeng4 gung1 jyun2) = “Ocean Park”

* You can change the underlined word with the place, city, or country you intend to express. For related vocabularies in Cantonese, visit our website on Cantonese Top Tourist Attractions Country, Major Cities, and World Countries!

21- 有呀,去過四次。

Romanization: jau5 aa3, heoi3 gwo3 sei3 ci3.
Meaning: Yes, I’ve been four times.
Breakdown:

  • (jau5) = “have”
  • (aa3) is a particle.
  • (heoi3) = “go”
  • (gwo3) = “already”
  • (sei3) = “four”
  • (ci3)  = “instances”

3. Conversation Starters for a First Date

Hong Kong people are generally more reserved than the West. A great way to show that you are interested and to get to know them better without getting too personal is to ask for their likes and dislikes!

Likes and Dislikes

 Likes!

22- 你鍾唔鍾意朱古力?

Romanization: nei5 zung1 m4 zung1 ji3 zyu1 gu1 lik1?
Meaning: Do you like chocolate?
Breakdown:

  • (nei5) = “you”
  • 鍾唔鍾意 (zung1 m4 zung1 ji3) = “like or not like”
  • 朱古力 (zyu1 gu1 lik1) = “chocolate””

23- 你鍾唔鍾意呢度?

Romanization: nei5 zung1 m4 zung1 ji3 ni1 dou6?
Meaning: What do you think of this place?
Breakdown:

  • (nei5) = “you”
  • 鍾唔鍾意 (zung1 m4 zung1 ji3) = “like or not like”
  • 呢度 (ni1 dou6) = “here””

24- 鍾意呀!

Romanization: zung1 ji3 aa3!
Meaning: Yes, I like it.
Breakdown:

  • 鍾意 (zung1 m4) = “like”
  • (aa3) is a particle.

25- 我唔鍾意。

Romanization: ngo5 m4 zung1 ji3.
Meaning: No, I don’t like it.
Breakdown:

  • (ngo5) = “I”
  • (m4) = “not”
  • 鍾意 (zung1 m4) = “like”

26- 我唔鍾意等人。

Romanization: ngo5 m4 zung1 ji3 dang2 jan4.
Meaning: I don’t like waiting.
Breakdown:

  • (ngo5) = “I”
  • (m4) = “not”
  • 鍾意 (zung1 m4) = “like”
  • (dang) = “to wait”
  • (jan4) = “people”

27- 我憎呢個。

Romanization: ngo5 zang1 ni1 go3.
Meaning: I hate this.
Breakdown:

  • (ngo5) = “I”
  • (zang1) = “hate”
  • 呢個 (ni1 go3) = “this”

4. Conversation Starters to Connect/ Reconnect with a Friend or a colleague

If you want to connect or reconnect with someone you haven’t seen for a while, the best way is to ask how they have been! You can also ask them what they are doing if you are not in the mood of nostalgia.

Greetings and Whereabouts

A Woman Waving Hello to Someone from a Distance

Basic greetings!

28- 好耐冇見。

Romanization: hou2 noi6 mou5 gin3.
Meaning: Haven’t seen you in a while.
Breakdown:

  • (hou2) = “good/very”
  • (noi6) = “long duration”
  • (mou5) = “not have”
  • (gin3) = “see”

29- 你最近點呀?

Romanization: nei5 zeoi3 gan6 dim2 aa3
Meaning: How’s everything?
Breakdown:

  • (nei5) = “you”
  • 最近 (zeoi3 gan6) = “recently”
  • (dim2) = “how”
  • (aa3) is a question particle.

30- 我幾好,多謝。

Romanization: ngo5 gei2 hou2, do1 ze6.
Meaning: I’m fine. Thank you.
Breakdown:

  • (ngo5) = “I”
  • (gei2) = “quite”
  • (hou2) = “good”
  • (do1) = “many”
  • (ze6) = “thanks”

31- 麻麻哋。

Romanization: maa4 maa2 dei2.
Meaning: Not so well.
Breakdown:

  • 麻麻 (maa4 maa2) = “below average”
  • (dei2) = “a bit”

32- 你做緊咩呀?

Romanization: nei5 zou6 gan2 me1 aa3?
Meaning: What are you doing?
Breakdown:

  • (nei5) = “you”
  • (zou6) = “do”
  • (gan2) indicates the continuous tense.
  • (me1) = “what”
  • (aa3) is a question particle.

33- 我溫緊書。

Romanization: ngo5 wan1 gan2 syu1.
Meaning: I am studying.
Breakdown:

  • (ngo5) = “I”
  • (zou6) = “review”
  • (gan2)  indicates the continuous tense.
  • (syu1) = “book”

34- 冇乜特別嘢。

Romanization: mou5 mat1 dak6 bit6 je5.
Meaning: I’m doing nothing special.
Breakdown:

  • (mou5) = “not”
  • (mat1) = “anything”
  • 特別 (dak6 bit6) = “special”
  • (je5) = “thing”

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

After learning the conversation starters, do you want to put more Cantonese words and phrases into your pockets so that you can manage the conversation as it develops? Do you want to advance in your Cantonese learning journey?

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, pronunciation guide Cantonese, 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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