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Archive for the 'Cantonese Culture' Category

Back To School: 30+ Cantonese Classroom Phrases

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Are you planning on studying or teaching in Hong Kong? Do you know the most common classroom phrases in Cantonese for students or teachers alike? Whether you’re about to join a university as a foreign student or to teach your native language as a teacher, you will have to learn how to communicate in the classroom.

If you’re a student, not only will you need to learn how to address your teachers, but also to understand their instructions. And vice versa if you’re in the teacher’s shoes! You will also need to learn some basic vocabulary, such as school subjects, supplies, and infrastructure.

In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know as a teacher or a student, from common phrases to vocabulary, instructions, and a list of school subjects. It will teach you how to ask questions or give instructions to save you from struggling with common classroom interactions. Get your pencil case ready, and let’s jump straight into it!

A Woman Taking Notes in a Study Book

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Classroom Greetings
  2. Teacher’s Phrases
  3. Student’s Phrases
  4. Subjects’ List
  5. Bonus: Borrowing School Supplies
  6. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Classroom Greetings

When you first meet your fellow students or teachers, the first set of phrases you will find useful are probably basic greetings and self-introductions. Until you get more experienced, your conversations might not get much further than simple salutations.

A Woman Waving

1- 早晨。 

Romanization: zou2 san4.
Literal Translation: Early morning.
Meaning: Good morning.

2- 午安 。 

Romanization: ng5 on1.
Literal Translation: Noon safe.
Meaning: Good afternoon.

3- 你好。

Romanization: nei5 hou2.
Literal Translation: You good.
Meaning: Hello.

4- 拜拜。

Romanization: baai1 baai3.
Literal Translation: Bye bye.
Meaning: Goodbye.

5- 遲啲見。 

Romanization: ci4 di1 gin3.
Literal Translation: Later see.
Meaning: See you later.

6- 聽日見。

Romanization: ting1 jat6 gin3.
Literal Translation: Tomorrow see.
Meaning: See you tomorrow.

7- 早唞 。

Romanization: zou2 tau2.
Literal Translation: Early rest.
Meaning: Good night.

    ➜ Once you feel comfortable greeting others and asking simple questions, you might want to step up your game and go further with the introductions. Why not have a look at our complete guides on how to say hello and how to introduce yourself?

2. Teacher’s Phrases

Whether you’re a student or a teacher, this section is for you! As a teacher, you need to know how to address your class, and as a student, you’d better understand what the teacher is saying. Let’s see some of the most common Cantonese teacher’s phrases.

A Teacher Smiling

1- 請回答我。 

Romanization: cing2 wui4 daap3 ngo5.
Literal Translation: Please answer me.
Meaning: Please answer me.

2- 唔該望住你嘅課本。

Romanization: m4 goi1 mong6 zyu6 nei5 ge3 fo3 bun2.
Literal Translation: Please look at your textbook.
Meaning: Please look at your textbook.

3- 請反覆聆聽。

Romanization: cing2 faan2 fuk1 ling4 ting3.
Literal Translation: Please repeat listen.
Meaning: Please listen to it repeatedly.

4- 如果你有任何問題,請發問。

Romanization: jyu4 gwo2 nei5 jau5 jam6 ho4 man6 tai4, cing2 faat3 man6.
Literal Translation: If you have any questions, please ask.
Meaning: If you have any questions, please ask.

5- 請閱讀。

Romanization: cing2 jyut6 duk6.
Literal Translation: Please read.
Meaning: Please read it.

6- 請保持安靜。

Romanization: cing2 bou2 ci4 on1 zing6.
Literal Translation: Please keep quiet.
Meaning: Please keep quiet.

7- 請打開你本書嘅第十頁。

Romanization: cing2 daa2 hoi1 nei5 bun2 syu1 ge3 dai6 sap6 jip6.
Literal Translation: Please open your book’s page 10.
Meaning: Please open your book on page 10.

8- 請寫低。

Romanization: cing2 se2 dai1.
Literal Translation: Please write down.
Meaning: Please write it down.

9- 你有冇任何問題?

Romanization: nei5 jau5 mou5 jam6 ho4 man6 tai4?
Literal Translation: You have not have questions?

10- 你做晒功課未?

Romanization: nei5 zou6 saai3 gung1 fo3 mei6?
Literal Translation: You finished homework yet?
Meaning: Did you finish your homework?”


3. Student’s Phrases

We’re spending so much time in the classes that we’re bound to face some troubles. It is not much of a problem to have an unforeseen event or an accident as long as you know how to explain it. In case you have encountered questions or things you don’t understand, all you will need to do is ask the right questions.

Question Marks Over a Woman’s Head

1- 我聽唔明。 

Romanization: ngo5 teng1 m4 ming4.
Literal Translation: I listen not understood.
Meaning: I don’t understand.

2- 唔該講多次。

Romanization: m4 goi1 gong2 do1 ci3.
Literal Translation: Please speak one more time.
Meaning: Please repeat that.

3- 你可唔可以講慢啲?

Romanization: nei5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 gong2 maan6 di1?
Literal Translation: You can not can speaker slower?
Meaning: Can you speak a little slower?

4-唔該幫我寫低。

Romanization: m4 goi1 bong1 ngo5 se2 dai1.
Literal Translation: Please help me write down.
Meaning: Please write it down for me.

5- 唔該, 嚟多一次。

Romanization: m4 goi1, lei4 do1 jat1 ci3.
Literal Translation: Please, do one more time.
Meaning: Once again, please.

6- …廣東話點講?

Romanization:  …gwong2 dung1 waa2 dim2 gong2?
Literal Translation: …Cantonese how say?
Meaning: How do you say…in Cantonese?

Example 1-

Chinese Characters: 呢個廣東話點講?
Romanization: ni1 go3 gwong2 dung1 waa2 dim2 gong2?
Literal Translation: This Cantonese how say?
Meaning: How do you say this in Cantonese?

Example 2-

Chinese Characters: “Seafood”廣東話點講?
Romanization: “Seafood” gwong2 dung1 waa2 dim2 gong2?
Literal Translation: “Seafood” Cantonese how say?
Meaning: How do you say “seafood” in Cantonese?

7- 請問…

Romanization:  cing2 man6…
Literal Translation: Please ask…
Meaning: May I ask…

Example 1-

Chinese Characters: 請問課室喺幾樓?
Romanization: cing2 man6 fo3 sat1 hai2 gei2 lau2?
Literal Translation: Please ask classroom on which floor?
Meaning: May I ask on which floor is the classroom?

Example 2-

Chinese Characters: 請問嗰個廣東話點講?
Romanization: cing2 man6 go2 go3 gwong2 dung1 waa2 dim2 gong2?
Literal Translation: Please ask that Cantonese how say?
Meaning: May I ask how do you say that in Cantonese?

8- 我可唔可以extend個deadline?

Romanization: ngo5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 extend go3 deadline?
Literal Translation: I can not can extend deadline?
Meaning: Could I get an extension on the deadline?

9- 我唔係好舒服, 我可唔可以請日假?

Romanization: ngo5 m4 hai6 hou2 syu1 fuk6, ngo5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 ceng2 jat6 gaa3?
Literal Translation: I am not very comfortable, I can not can apply day off?
Meaning: I don’t feel well. Can I be excused for the day?

10- 有人偷咗我本書。

Romanization: jau5 jan4 tau1 zo2 ngo5 bun2 syu1.
Literal Translation: Someone stole my book.
Meaning: Someone stole my books.

11- 我遲到因為等唔到巴士。

Romanization: ngo5 ci4 dou3 jan1 wai6 dang2 m4 dou2 baa1 si2.
Literal Translation: I late because wait can’t arrive bus.
Meaning: I am late because the bus did not show up.

12- 我隻狗食咗我啲功課。

Romanization: ngo5 zek3 gau2 sik6 zo2 ngo5 di1 gung1 fo3.
Literal Translation: My dog ate my homework.
Meaning: My dog ate my homework.

4. Subjects’ List

You probably already know how to talk about what you’re studying or teaching, but whenever you’re chatting with your fellow students or teachers, a variety of other subject matters may come up.

A List of Subjects
#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1數學sou3 hok6Mathematics
2化學faa3 hok6Chemistry
3生物學sang1 mat6 hok6Biology
4地理dei6 lei5Geography
5體育tai2 juk6Physical Education
6歷史lik6 si2History
7美術mei5 seot6Art
8音樂jam1 ngok6Music

Here are how you can enquire other’s or express your own favorite subject:

Question- 你最喜愛嘅科目係乜?

Romanization: nei5 zeoi3 hei2 oi3 ge3 fo1 muk6 hai6 mat1?
Literal Translation: You favorite subject is what?
Meaning: What is your favorite subject?

Answer- 我最喜愛嘅科目係…。

Romanization: ngo5 zeoi3 hei2 oi3 ge3 fo1 muk6 hai6 …
Literal Translation: My favorite subject is…
Meaning: My favorite subject is…

    ➜ To practice your pronunciation, be sure to stop by our free vocabulary list on School Subjects, with recorded words and example phrases, on CantoneseClass101.

5. Bonus: Borrowing School Supplies

Have you ever forgotten to bring your pencil case with you? No worries, this section will introduce you to some basic school supplies vocabulary, as well as how to borrow one from others.

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1鉛筆jyun4 bat1pencil
2原子筆jyun4 zi2 bat1pen
3擦膠caat3 gaau1eraser
4zi2paper
5書本 syu1 bun2book
6作業zok3 jip6homework
7課本 fo3 bun2textbook
8字典 zi6 din2dictionary

You can ask someone to lend you a pen by asking…

Chinese Characters: 唔該借你嘅原子筆畀我。
Romanization: m4 goi1 ze3 nei5 ge3 jyun4 zi2 bat1 bei2 ngo5.
Literal Translation: Please lend your pen to me.
Meaning: Please lend me your pen.

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

Graduation

After mastering Cantonese phrases to navigate schools, do you want to put more Cantonese phrases for other occasions into your pocket? 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!

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

Cantonese Restaurant Phrases

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Hong Kong is a food paradise! Not only does it have the highest density of restaurants in the world, but there is also a great variety of local dishes and mouth-watering delicacies worth trying. On top of the famous dim sum, there are other Cantonese foods, such as egg tarts and fish balls, that are too good to be missed.

Dim Sum

There’s a saying in Cantonese that reveals how much we care about food:

  • 民以食為天 (man4 ji5 sik6 wai4 tin1) – “Food is god to people.” 

Indeed, food is one of the most important aspects of life: it brings you energy and joy, and you need it every single day. To ensure that you won’t miss out on the great food in Hong Kong, we have compiled a list of Cantonese phrases for you to navigate through the local restaurants!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Before Dining
  2. During Dining
  3. After Dining
  4. Bonus: Dining etiquette in Hong Kong
  5. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Before Dining

Reserving a Table

There are lots of varieties of restaurants in Hong Kong – some require advanced bookings, and some do not. Most local inexpensive restaurants do not require advanced bookings, and you can just walk in. On the contrary, most fine dining restaurants require making reservations in advance, and sometimes you have to wait for months before you can secure a table. I strongly recommend the app OpenRice if you need to look up information about restaurants in Hong Kong. This powerful app allows you to search restaurants based on location and types of cuisines. You can view customers’ feedback as well as reserve a table through the app.

A- Reserving a table: conversation

Customer-
Chinese Character: 唔該, 我想訂枱。
Romanization: m4 goi1, ngo5 soeng2 deng6 toi2.
Meaning: Excuse me, I want to book a table.

Restaurant staff-
Chinese Character: 幾點?
Romanization: gei2 dim2?
Meaning: What time?

Customer-
Chinese Character: 八點, 唔該。
Romanization: baat3 dim2, m4 goi1.
Meaning: Eight o’clock, thank you.
Note: To say a time, state the hour followed by “點” (dim2), which means “o’clock.”

Restaurant staff-
Chinese Character: 幾多位?
Romanization: gei2 do1 wai2?
Meaning: Eight o’clock, thank you.

Customer-
Chinese Character: 四位。
Romanization: sei3 wai2.
Meaning: Four people.
Note: To respond to the above question, you can state the total number followed by the measure word for “people”, which is “位” (wai2). There is another measure word for people that is “個” (go3), but “位” (wai2) is more polite.

Cantonese number from 1 to 10 for people and time:

  • 0: 零 (ling4)
  • 1: 一 (jat1)
  • 2: 兩 (loeng5)**
  • 3: 三 (saam1)
  • 4: 四 (sei3)
  • 5: 五 (ng5)
  • 6: 六 (luk6)
  • 7: 七 (cat1)
  • 8: 八 (baat3)
  • 9: 九 (gau2)
  • 10: 十 (sap6)

** There are two ways to express “2” in Cantonese, “兩”(loeng5) should be used in describing people and time.

B- Other relevant phrases

Chinese Character: 唔該, 我想訂枱,八點,四位。
Romanization: m4 goi1, ngo5 soeng2 deng6 toi2, baat3 dim2, sei3 wai2.
Meaning: Excuse me, I want to book a table at eight o’clock for four people.

Chinese Character:  唔該, 有冇位呀?
Romanization: m4 goi1, jau5 mou5 wai2 aa3?
Meaning: Do you have a table?

Chinese Character:  要等幾耐?
Romanization: jiu3 dang2 gei2 noi6?
Meaning: How long do we have to wait?


2. During Dining

A Couple Ordering Food at a Nice Restaurant

Here’re some useful phrases inside a restaurant in case you need help communicating with waiters and waitresses.

A- Asking for menu and recommendations

Chinese Character:  唔該俾張餐牌我睇。
Romanization: m4 goi1 bei2 zoeng1 caan1 paai4 ngo5 tai2.
Meaning: Please, can I have the menu?

Chinese Character:  你有乜嘢推介?
Romanization: nei5 jau5 mat1 je5 teoi1 gaai3?
Meaning: What do you recommend?

Chinese Character:  呢度有乜嘢食出名呀?
Romanization: ni1 dou6 jau5 mat1 je5 sik6 ceot1 ming2 aa3?
Meaning: What’s your house specialty?

Chinese Character:  呢碟餸叫咩名?
Romanization: ne1 dip6 sung3 giu3 me1 meng2?
Meaning: What’s the name of this dish?

B- Ordering drinks: conversation

Waiter/Waitress-
Chinese Character:  想飲啲咩呀?
Romanization: soeng2 jam2 di1 me1 aa3?
Meaning: What do you want for drinks?

Customer-
Chinese Character:  我想飲咖啡。
Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 jam2 gaa3 fe1.
Meaning: I would like a coffee.
Note: You can replace “咖啡” (meaning: coffee; romanization: gaa3 fe1) with the beverages you desire.

C- Ordering food

Chinese Character:  今日嘅湯係咩?
Romanization: gam1 jat6 ge3 tong1 hai6 me1?
Meaning: What is the soup of the day?

Chinese Character:  你哋有冇糯米雞
Romanization: nei5 dei2 jau5 mou5 lo6 mai5 gai1?
Meaning: Do you have any steamed glutinous rice with chicken?
Note: You may replace “糯米雞” (lo6 mai5 gai1) with the name of whatever food you want to inquire about.

Chinese Character:  我想要多士。
Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 jiu3 do1 si2.
Meaning: I want a toast.
Note: You may replace “多士” (do1 si2) with the name of whatever food you want.

Examples of food that you can replace “糯米雞” (lo6 mai5 gai1) and “多士” (do1 si2) with include:



Chinese Character:  我食素。
Romanization: ngo5 sik6 sou3.
Meaning: I’m a vegetarian.

Chinese Character:  我對堅果敏感。
Romanization: ngo5 deoi3 gin1 gwo2 man5 gam2.
Meaning: I am allergic to nuts.

Chinese Character:  唔該,我可唔可以要多份?
Romanization: m4 goi1, ngo5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 jiu3 do1 fan6?
Meaning: Can I get one more serving, please?

Chinese Character:  你哋有冇甜品?
Romanization: nei5 dei2 jau5 mou5 tim4 ban2?
Meaning: Do you have any desserts?

D- Other relevant phrases

Chinese Character:  洗手間喺邊呀?
Romanization: sai2 sau2 gaan1 hai2 bin1 aa3?
Meaning: Where’s the washroom?

Chinese Character:  唔該, 呢度可唔可以食煙?
Romanization: m4 goi1 ni1 dou6 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 sik6 jin1?
Meaning: Excuse me, is smoking allowed here?
Note: There are two replies to this question on whether or not you can smoke. The affirmative answer is “可以” (ho2 ji5). The negative answer is “唔可以” (m4 ho2 ji5).

3. After Dining

Wallet with Money

Check out the below phrases to end your meal happily and elegantly with Cantonese.

A- Check please: conversation

Customer-
Chinese Character:  唔該埋單。
Romanization: m4 goi1 maai4 daan1.
Meaning: Check, please.

Waiter/Waitress-
Chinese Character:  現金定碌咭呀?
Romanization: jin6 gam1 ding6 luk1 kaat1 aa3?
Meaning: Cash or card?

Customer-
Chinese Character:  現金。
Romanization: jin6 gam1.
Meaning: Cash.

B- Other relevant phrases

Chinese Character:  收唔收信用卡?
Romanization: sau1 m4 sau1 seon3 jung6 kaat1?
Meaning: Do you take credit cards?

Chinese Character:  去邊度埋單呀?
Romanization: heoi3 bin1 dou6 maai4 daan1 aa3?
Meaning: Where can I pay the bill?

Chinese Character:  找錯錢呀!
Romanization: zaau2 co3 cin2 aa3!
Meaning: The change is wrong!

Chinese Character:  唔駛找喇!
Romanization: m4 sai2 zaau2 laa3!
Meaning: Keep the change.

4. Bonus: Dining etiquette in Hong Kong

Chinese Restaurant

If you’re going to dine at a traditional Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong, tables will typically be large and round to accommodate a group of friends or family. Most dishes are shared instead of à la carte, and they’re placed in the center of the table where everyone gets to take a portion of the dishes.

A- General Food Manners & Restaurant Etiquette in Hong Kong

  • DON’T put your hand below or above someone else’s hand while taking the food from a serving plate. 
    DO wait until the other person finishes grabbing his or her food before you start taking yours.
  • DON’T take food from the serving plates and put it into your mouth directly. 
    DO put it into your bowl first before you eat.
  • If you like only a part of the dish, DON’T look for your favorite part on the serving plate. 
    DO this only while it’s in your bowl.
  • DO leave bits of food on your plate to show that you were satisfied. 
    DON’T leave your plate empty because the host may think you didn’t have enough food.
  • DON’T spin your table counterclockwise; always spin it clockwise. 

B- Chopsticks

  • DON’T point at someone or something with your chopsticks.
  • DON’T use your own chopsticks to grab food from the serving plate. 
    DO use “public chopsticks” (chopsticks that are placed at the center of the table for grabbing the food).
  • DO place your chopsticks on the rest provided if you’re not using them. 
  • DON’T shake your chopsticks if they’re wet from soup.
  • DON’T place your chopsticks across each other.
  • DON’T put your chopsticks in your rice bowl in an upright position; this is only done at funerals.

C- Tea

  • DO open the lid of the teapot or place the lid upside-down if you would like to request more tea.
  • DON’T take the first sip; wait for the senior host to do so first.

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

After mastering Cantonese phrases to navigate Hong Kong restaurants, do you want to put more Cantonese phrases for other occasions into your pocket? 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!

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

Learn the Names of Animals in Cantonese

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What’s your favorite animal? Do you have any pets? 

Questions like these make great conversation starters. Animals are a topic of interest for many people, and we sure do love our pets! What better way to break the ice and get to know someone than by asking about their favorite furry, scaly, or feathery creatures?

A Couple Walking on the Beach with Their Dog

Fancy putting some Cantonese animal words in your pocket? In this article, you’ll learn many animal names in Cantonese for different categories: pets, farm animals, wild beasts, sea creatures, birds, and all sorts of tiny bugs. We’ll spice it up with some animal proverbs and the “Twelve Zodiac Animals” story. Read on!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. At Home (Pets)
  2. On the Farm (Farm Animals)
  3. In the Wild / Forest / Safari (Land Animals)
  4. In the Ocean (Aquatic / Marine Animals)
  5. Bugs and Insects
  6. Birds, Reptiles & Amphibians
  7. Animal Body Parts
  8. Animal Proverbs
  9. Bonus: The Twelve Zodiac Animals
  10. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. At Home (Pets)

Compared to the rest of the world, Hong Kong is home to very few pets. According to a global survey, 64% of Hongkongers do not own pets—this makes Hong Kong the country with the second-highest rate of non-pet owners among the 22 countries surveyed. Among those who do own pets, dogs and fish are the most common, with each one accounting for 14% of all pets in Hong Kong. And from my own (unscientific) observation, I spotted approximately ten dogs walking along the street while writing this article.

With this in mind, let me introduce you to the Cantonese words for “dog,” “goldfish,” and several other less popular pets.

Goldfish

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1gau2dog
2金魚gam1 jyu2  goldfish
3maau1cat
4倉鼠cong1 syu2hamster   
5兔仔tou3 zai2rabbit 
6鸚鵡jing1 mou5parrot
7天竺鼠tin1 zuk1 syu2guinea pig
8刺蝟ci3 wai6 hedgehog

2. On the Farm (Farm Animals)

As one of the most densely populated cities on Earth, farming in Hong Kong has long been considered a sunset industry. Most Hongkongers opt for the bustling city life and dedicate themselves to other industries like Business and Finance. At the same time, the amount of agricultural land has been dwindling. As a result, we rely heavily on imports.

Below, you’ll find the names of several animals in Cantonese that you might find on a farm.

Livestock

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1maa5horse
2gai1chicken
3火雞fo2 gai1turkey
4綿羊min4 joeng2sheep / lamb
5母牛mou5 ngau4cow
6zyu1pig
7aap3duck 
8ngo2goose
9lou4donkey
10山羊saan1 joeng4goat


3. In the Wild / Forest / Safari (Land Animals)

Hong Kong does not have many wild animals, nor does it have a forest—but it’s still worthwhile to learn some land animal names in Cantonese so that you can use them in conversations or understand them in documentaries!

Forest

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1長頸鹿coeng4 geng2 luk2giraffe
2zoeng6elephant
3long4wolf
4獅子si1 zi2lion
5老虎lou5 fu2tiger
6箭豬zin3 zyu1porcupine
7hung4bear
8大灰熊daai6 fui1 hung4grizzly bear
9北極熊bak1 gik6 hung4polar bear
10樹熊syu6 hung4koala
11熊貓 hung4 maau1panda
12鹿luk2deer
13大鹿daai6 luk2   moose
14馴鹿 seon4 luk2reindeer
15松鼠cung4 syu2squirrel
16袋鼠doi6 syu2kangaroo
17臭鼬cau3 jau6skunk 
18花栗鼠 faa1 leot6 syu2chipmunk
19浣熊wun2 hung4raccoon
20馬騮maa5 nau1monkey 
21大猩猩  daai6 sing1 sing1gorilla 
22黑猩猩haak1 sing1 sing1chimpanzee 
23花豹faa1 paau3leopard
24paau3panther
25獵豹lip6 paau3 cheetah
26捷豹zit6 paau3jaguar
27斑馬baan1 maa5zebra
28河馬ho4 maa5hippopotamus
29犀牛sai1 ngau4rhinoceros
30蝙蝠pin1 fuk1bat

4. In the Ocean (Aquatic / Marine Animals)

Did you know that Hong Kong is surrounded by sea? One of the most picturesque tourist spots in Hong Kong is Victoria Harbour! Hong Kong is also famous for its abundance of seafood (and thus, seafood restaurants).

Seafood

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1haai5crab
2jyu2fish
3龍蝦lung4 haa1lobster
4海狗hoi2 gau2seal
5水母seoi2 mou5jellyfish
6海豚hoi2 tyun4dolphin
7鯨魚king4 jyu4whale
8魷魚jau4 jyu2squid
9鯊魚saa1 jyu2shark
10八爪魚baat3 zaau2 jyu4octopus
11海獅hoi2 si1sealion  
12海象hoi2 zoeng6walrus
13海獺hoi2 caat3sea otter
14海膽hoi2 daam2sea urchin
15河豚ho4 tyun4puffer fish
16sin5eel


5. Bugs and Insects

The smothering humidity in Hong Kong is beloved by bugs and insects—especially mosquitoes. Check out the table below for the Cantonese names of common bugs and insects in Hong Kong.

Ladybug

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1甲蟲gaap3 cung4ladybug
2蜻蜓cing1 ting4dragonfly 
3蝴蝶wu4 dip2butterfly
4蜜蜂mat6 fung1bee
5螞蟻maa5 ngai5ant
6蜘蛛zi1 zyu1spider
7烏蠅wu1 ying1fly
8man1mosquito 
9黃蜂wong4 fung1wasp
10毛蟲mou4 cung4caterpillar

6. Birds, Reptiles & Amphibians

According to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of Hong Kong, the most common birds in Hong Kong’s urban areas are: 

  • Eurasian Tree Sparrow
  • Oriental Magpie Robin
  • Eurasian Magpie
  • Black-crowned Night Heron
  • Red-whiskered Bulbul

In wetlands, you’ll commonly find the White-throated Kingfisher and Little Egret.

Sparrow

Here, we’ve listed the more common vocabulary words for birds, reptiles, amphibians, and similar animals to get you started:

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1zoek3bird
2烏鴉wu1 aa1crow / raven
3白鴿bat6 gap2dove
4麻雀maa4 zoek2sparrow
5jing1eagle
6貓頭鷹maau1 tau4 jing1owl
7鸚鵡jing1 mou5parrot 
8海鷗hoi2 au1seagull
9企鵝kei5 ngo2penguin
10蝸牛wo1 ngau4snail
11青蛙cing1 waa1frog
12se4snake
13鱷魚ngok6 jyu4crocodile / alligator
14烏龜           wu1 gwai1turtle

7. Animal Body Parts

Now that you know the names of several animals in Cantonese, you’ll benefit from learning what to call their most defining body parts. Here, we’ve listed ten common Cantonese words for you.

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1觸角zuk1 gok3antenna
2fui3beak 
3zaau2 claw / paw
4羽毛jyu5 mou4feather
5gok3horn
6mou4fur
7leon4scale 
8尾巴mei5 baa1tail 
9觸鬚zuk1 sou1tentacle
10翅膀ci3 pong4wing


8. Animal Proverbs

There are so many Cantonese animal proverbs! Below are our top five picks:

1 – 豬乸會上樹

Romanization: zyu1 naa2 wui5 soeng5 syu6
Literal Translation: “A sow (a female pig) can climb trees”

More about the proverb – 

  • Meaning / Equivalent Proverb: “When pigs fly”
  • Example Scenario: When Martin is really bad at math, but he claims that he will get full marks on the upcoming calculus exam, you might reply with this phrase.

A Cute Pig

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”

More about the proverb – 

  • Meaning / Equivalent Proverb: “Palm off”
  • Example Scenario: When Lucy claims that the designer bags she is selling are real (but they are indeed fake), you may say this phrase.
  • Additional notes: Hong Kong prohibits the slaughter of dogs or cats for the use of food. You won’t actually find shops selling dog meat!

3 – 大石砸死蟹

Romanization: daai6 sek6 zaak6 sei2 haai5
Literal Translation: “A big rock weighs down on a crab”

More about the proverb – 

  • Meaning / Equivalent Proverb: Overpowered by an overwhelming force
  • Example Scenario: Imagine your boss asks you to perform a task that’s totally out of your job description, and you have to do it because of his dominating power in the workplace. You may express your frustration with this phrase.

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.”

More about the proverb – 

  • Meaning / Equivalent Proverb: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” It implies that one should take full responsibility for his or her own actions.
  • Example Scenario: Imagine that Christy enters a relationship with a guy whom she knows is in love with someone else, and then she claims to be the victim when she gets hurt. In this situation, you could say this phrase. 

5 – 老貓燒鬚

Romanization: lou5 maau1 siu1 sou1
Literal Translation: “An old cat burns its whiskers.”

More about the proverb – 

  • Meaning / Equivalent Proverb: We use this expression in reference to an expert who makes a careless mistake in their area of expertise.
  • Example Scenario: Let’s say that Rick makes a silly grammatical mistake when he is giving an English lesson. If you catch the mistake, you might say this phrase in response. 

9. Bonus: The Twelve Zodiac Animals

Unlike the Western zodiac, which takes twelve months to cycle through the constellation signs, the Chinese zodiac cycle is twelve years long and assigns an animal to each year. 

According to legend, the Jade Emperor held a race for the animals. He declared that the calendar years would be named for each animal in the order they arrived at the goal.

Chinese Zodiac

This race involved a river crossing, and the ox almost won since it was the strongest swimmer. However, it came in second because the rat, who had secretly jumped onto the ox’s back to be carried across the river, leaped out ahead of him. Next came the tiger, the rabbit, and the dragon. The horse should have come next, but the snake hidden in its hoof jumped out and scared him after they had crossed the river, so the snake managed to finish before the horse. The goat, monkey, and rooster made their way across by working together and finished at the same time. The dog could have finished earlier, but stopped to frolic and bathe in the water. The pig had stopped to rest halfway through, and thus came in last.

With that, our 12-year cycle is as follows:

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1syu2rat
2ngau4ox / cow
3fu2tiger
4tou3rabbit
5lung4dragon
6se4snake
7maa5horse
8joeng4sheep
9hau4monkey
10gai1rooster
11gau2dog
12zyu1pig

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

What’s your favorite animal? Do you remember its name in Cantonese? 

At this stage in your learning journey, you should focus on continuing to build your vocabulary and starting to familiarize yourself with key grammar points. 

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 service.

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

How to Say “I Love You,” in Cantonese

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Love is quite an unexplainable matter—it can cause you to feel happy, excited, and a number of other emotions. Considering the vast breadth of feelings you’re experiencing, how can you properly express your love in Cantonese to that special someone? 

In this article, we’ll not only cover the most common love phrases like “I miss you,” and “I love you,” in Cantonese, but we’ll also teach you how to express your interest and affection during each stage of your relationship. As a bonus, we’ll share some love quotes at the end (but we don’t recommend using them in your dating life unless you want to sound…cheesy).

Do note that most Hongkongers (and other people living in the Cantonese-speaking regions) are more subtle and reserved when it comes to love and dating compared to Westerners. So pay attention to the cultural differences, practice patience, and be gentle. 

By the way: If you want to keep things casual at first, there are many dating apps out there for you to try. 

Without further ado, our list of love phrases in Cantonese for every dating stage.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Before a Date
  2. On a Date
  3. After a Date
  4. Fall in Deeper: “I Love You,” and More
  5. Take it One Step Further: “Will You Marry Me?” and More
  6. Bonus: Endearment Terms and Love Quotes
  7. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Before a Date

Valentine’s Day

You just saw your crush! Now’s the time to gather your courage and talk to him or her. 

We’ve compiled a list of phrases that could help you express your interest and finally ask your crush out. You shouldn’t feel too uncomfortable making your move, as having lunch or dinner with someone of the opposite sex is quite normal in Hong Kong.

Are you free this weekend?

Chinese Characters: 你今個禮拜尾得唔得閒?
Romanization: nei5 gam1 go3 lai5 baai3 mei5 dak1 m4 dak1 haan4

Would you like to hang out with me?

Chinese Characters: 我哋去玩好唔好?
Romanization: ngo5 dei6 heoi3 waan2 hou2 m4 hou2

Would you like to go out to dinner with me?

Chinese Characters: 賞面同我食餐飯嗎?
Romanization: soeng2 min2 tung4 ngo5 sik6 caan1 faan6 maa3

I know a good place.

Chinese Characters: 我知道一個好地方。
Romanization: ngo5 zi1 dou3 jat1 go3 hou2 dei6 fong1

What time shall we meet tomorrow?

Chinese Characters: 我哋聽日約幾點?
Romanization: ngo5 dei6 ting1 jat6 joek3 gei2 dim2

Where shall we meet?

Chinese Characters: 我哋喺邊度等?
Romanization: ngo5 dei6 hai2 bin1 dou6 dang2


2. On a Date

A Couple Having Dinner

Hurray! You guys are on your first date and having a great time. And what better way to make a great date even better than by offering him or her some genuine compliments? Here are some phrases you can use:

You’re so handsome.

Chinese Characters: 你好靚仔。
Romanization: nei5 hou2 leng3 zai2
Additional Note: This is only to be said to males.

You’re so beautiful. 

Chinese Characters: 你好靚。
Romanization: nei5 hou2 leng3
Additional Note: This is only to be said to females.

You look great today.

Chinese Characters: 你今日好精神。
Romanization: nei5 gam1 jat6 hou2 zing1 san4

That jacket looks nice on you.

Chinese Characters: 件外套好襯你。
Romanization: gin6 ngoi6 tou3 hou2 can3 nei5

You have a great sense of humor.

Chinese Characters: 你好幽默。
Romanization: nei5 hou2 jau1 mak6

Your smile is beautiful.

Chinese Characters: 你嘅笑容好靚。
Romanization: nei5 ge3 siu3 jung4 hou2 leng3

You have good taste.

Chinese Characters: 你好有品味。
Romanization: nei5 hou2 jau5 ban2 mei6

You have a way with words.

Chinese Characters: 你好識得講嘢。
Romanization: nei5 hou2 sik1 dak1 gong2 je5

You are cute.

Chinese Characters: 你好可愛。
Romanization: nei5 hou2 ho2 oi3


3. After a Date

A Cute Couple Looking into Each Other’s Eyes

You guys had a blast! You want to end the date well and leave a good impression—and you hope to see them more. Here are some phrases you can use: 

That was a great evening.

Chinese Characters: 今晚好開心。
Romanization: gam1 maan5 hou2 hoi1 sam1

I will drive you home.

Chinese Characters: 我車你返屋企。
Romanization: ngo5 ce1 nei5 faan1 uk1 kei2

What do you think of this place?

Chinese Characters: 你覺得呢度點?
Romanization: nei5 gok3 dak1 ni1 dou6 dim2

Can I see you again?

Chinese Characters: 我可唔可以再約你?
Romanization: ngo5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 zoi3 joek3 nei5

When can I see you again?

Chinese Characters: 幾時可以再見你?
Romanization: gei2 si4 ho2 ji5 zoi3 gin3 nei5

I’ll call you.

Chinese Characters: 我打畀你。
Romanization: ngo5 daa2 bei2 nei5

4. Fall in Deeper: “I Love You,” and More

A Couple Being Intimate

Your relationship has progressed well since your first date. In fact, you’ve completely fallen for him or her! Try using the following love expressions in Cantonese to show how much you adore them.

I like you.

Chinese Characters: 我鍾意你。
Romanization: ngo5 zung1 ji3 nei5

I love you.

Chinese Characters: 我愛你。
Romanization: ngo5 ngoi3 nei5

Note that Cantonese speakers rarely use the exact phrase for “I love you,” as it’s considered too formal. Instead, we use the first phrase—我鍾意你 (ngo5 zung1 ji3 nei5), or “I like you”—to express our love. The word 鍾意 conveys a feeling of fondness without coming across as too strong. In fact, we can also use this phrase to talk about some of our favorite things. For example: 

我鍾意食蛋撻 (ngo5 zung1 ji3 sik6 daan6 taat1) – “I like egg tarts.”

I miss you.

Chinese Characters: 我好掛住你。
Romanization: ngo5 hou2 gwaa3 zyu6 nei5

You made me a better person.

Chinese Characters: 你令我成為一個更好嘅人。
Romanization: nei5 ling6 ngo5 sing4 wai4 jat1 go3 gang3 hou2 ge3 jan4


5. Take it One Step Further: “Will You Marry Me?” and More

A Wedding

Things have been going so well, and you know that he or she is the one. How do you tell them that you want to spend your life with them? Check out the proposal lines and other romantic phrases below!

Let’s spend the rest of our lives together.

Chinese Characters: 我想同你過埋下半世。
Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 tung4 nei5 gwo3 maai4 haa6 bun3 sai3

I want to grow old with you.

Chinese Characters: 我想同你白頭到老。
Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 tung4 nei5 baak6 tau4 dou3 lou5

I can’t imagine my life without you. / I can’t afford to lose you.

Chinese Characters: 我唔可以冇咗你。
Romanization: ngo5 m4 ho2 ji5 mou5 zo2 nei5

Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?

Chinese Characters: 你願唔願意做我老婆?
Romanization: nei5 jyun6 m4 jyun6 ji3 zou6 ngo5 lou5 po4

I want to be with you forever.

Chinese Characters: 我想永遠同你一齊。
Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 wing5 jyun5 tung4 nei5 jat1 cai4

Will you marry me?

Chinese Characters: 你願唔願意嫁俾我嗎?
Romanization: nei5 jyun6 m4 jyun6 ji3 gaa3 bei2 ngo5

Having you by my side completes me.

Chinese Characters: 有你喺我身邊,我嘅世界先算完整。
Romanization: jau5 nei5 hai2 ngo5 san1 bin1, ngo5 ge3 sai3 gaai3 sin1 syun3 jyun4 zing2


6. Bonus: Endearment Terms and Love Quotes

A Lovely Kiss

There are two common endearment terms you can use to address your boyfriend or girlfriend:

  • BB (bi4 bi1) – “Babe” [can be used in both text messages and face-to-face conversations]
  • 傻豬 (so4 zyu1) “Silly”

And if you two are married, you may call each other:

  • 老婆 (lou5 po4) – “Wifey”
  • 老公 (lou5 gung1) “Hubby”

To conclude the article, we would like to share our favorite Cantonese love quotes:

Love is great….

1 – 人世間所有嘅相遇,都係久別重逢。

Romanization: jan4 sai3 gaan1 so2 jau5 ge3 soeng1 jyu6, dou1 hai6 gau2 bit6 cung4 fung4 
Literal Translation: All encounters in life are reunions after long times apart.

More about the quote

  • Meaning: The quote explains Yuanfen, a concept similar to Karma. The message behind it is that we should cherish the ones we love, but if we’ve tried our very best and still end up being separated, all we can do is accept the fact. 
  • Elaboration: It’s a famous quote from The Grandmaster, a movie directed by the internationally renowned Hong Kong film director Wong Kar-Wai. We use the quote to console a friend who is having relationship issues.
  • Additional Notes: The Grandmaster is Wong’s most expensive production to date—watch the trailer of the movie here!

…and yes, you may get hurt a few times…

2 – 成世人流流長,總會愛上幾個人渣。

Romanization: seng4 sai3 jan4 lau4 lau4 coeng4, zung2 wui5 oi3 soeng5 gei2 go3 jan4 zaa1
Literal Translation: Life is long, no wonder we would fall in love with a few scoundrels in our lifetimes.

More about the quote

  • Elaboration: It’s a famous quote from the movie Love in the Puff. We use this quote to console a friend who has been betrayed by her lover.
  • Additional Notes: You can learn more about love and relationships in Hong Kong by watching the sequel to this movie, Love in the Buff—you can view its trailer here!
  • Equivalent Quote: “We are all fools in love.” (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen)

…but you need to be brave, for love is the greatest thing in the world!

3 – 世界上最遙遠嘅距離,唔係生同死,而係我企喺你面前,你卻唔知道我愛你。

Romanization: sai3 gaai3 soeng6 zeoi3 jiu4 jyun5 ge3 keoi5 lei4, m4 hai6 sang1 tung4 sei2, ji4 hai6 ngo5 kei5 hai2 nei5 min6 cin4, nei5 koek3 m4 zi1 dou3 ngo5 oi3 nei5 
Literal Translation: The furthest distance in this world is not life and death. It is that I am standing in front of you, but you don’t know I love you.

More about the quote

  • Elaboration: This quote is from Hong Kong author Amy Cheung. We use this quote to encourage a friend to express his or her love.
  • Additional Notes: Amy Cheung is one of Hong Kong’s most popular writers, and she’s very well-known in Chinese communities for her books on love and relationships. She was named one of the ten richest Chinese authors in 2013!
  • Equivalent Quote: If you love someone, tell them. For hearts are often broken by words left unspoken. (Stephanie Roogle)

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

By now, you should be well-equipped to express your love in the Cantonese language! Which of these phrases or quotes is your favorite? Let us know in the comments! 

After mastering these love phrases, would you like to pick up even more Cantonese to better communicate with your lover? 

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!

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!

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

Why learn Cantonese? Here are 10 compelling reasons.

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Considering the huge number of languages in the world, why learn Cantonese?

You might already be aware of how different Cantonese is compared to Western languages. After all, Cantonese is a tonal language with its own writing system based on 3000-4000 Chinese characters

Even though Cantonese sounds complicated, it’s not that hard to master when you’re using the right tools and approach. Plus, learning Cantonese can open up lots of opportunities and enable you to fully experience the local culture.

Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

Still not convinced? Let CantoneseClass101.com share with you our top 10 reasons why you should learn Cantonese!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Knowing Cantonese will unlock more career options.
  2. It will help you navigate the city.
  3. Learning the language will broaden your horizons.
  4. Cantonese will connect you with others.
  5. It will enable you to try out local (and delicious) dishes.
  6. Cantonese will enrich your travel experience.
  7. Knowing Cantonese will facilitate friendships with the locals.
  8. It will make Cantonese movies and songs more enjoyable.
  9. Learning a new language trains your brain.
  10. Cantonese is easy to learn.
  11. Why is CantoneseClass101 Great for Learning Cantonese?

1. Knowing Cantonese will unlock more career options.

Did you know that Hong Kong ranks third as a global financial center (after New York and London), and it’s the richest city in the world?

Not only is Hong Kong an important financial hub in Asia, but it also has the highest Financial Development Index score and was ranked as the world’s most competitive economy. Most international institutions and businesses have footprints—or even their Asian headquarters—in Hong Kong. Being familiar with the Cantonese language, culture, and business environment can be key in settling important negotiations, making major deals, or even opening up new career opportunities.

2. It will help you navigate the city.

Have you ever struggled to find a place while you travel? It will help a lot if you know the local language so that you can ask for directions!

Victoria Peak, Hong Kong

Even though English is widely spoken in Hong Kong, learning Cantonese can still be of great benefit to you. Not only will it help you navigate through the world’s greatest city better (check out our top 30 Cantonese travel phrases), but it can also serve as a conversation starter with the locals and help you understand the culture better. 

3. Learning the language will broaden your horizons.

Hong Kong’s “East meets West” culture is unique:

Hong Kong became a British colony in 1842 and was handed back over to China in 1997 under the “one country, two systems” arrangement. Under this arrangement, Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China—it enjoys a greater freedom of speech, a separate legal and judicial system, and has its own government, customs, and currency. Even mainland Chinese have to go through Immigration checks upon arriving in Hong Kong.

20 Hong Kong Dollar Notes

A long-lived entrepot and once a colony of the British empire, Hong Kong has a diverse mix of culture that has fascinated travelers and attracted expats from around the globe. You can find people of all races and religions in Hong Kong, and they’re all treated equally with respect. From Central to Chungking Mansion, you can see how people of different races interact, work together, and build friendships. We pride ourselves in religious liberty, freedom of speech, and diversity. 

The interesting cultural dynamic here is rare and worth experiencing for yourself, through traveling, working, or even living in Hong Kong. And learning Cantonese is the way to go!

4. Cantonese will connect you with others.

Students Pointing at a Globe

Cantonese is the oldest and most popular Chinese dialect spoken in Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macau, and some neighboring areas around the eastern part of Guangxi. It’s the official language in Hong Kong and Macau, and is historically the most popular form of Chinese spoken outside of mainland China.

I’m not kidding about Cantonese being spoken everywhere. It’s the most widely spoken dialect among Chinese communities in Canada, the United States of America, and Australia, as well as Europe and Southeast Asia.

5. It will enable you to try out local (and delicious) dishes.

Hong Kong is a food paradise! Not only does it have the highest density of restaurants in the world and all types of international cuisines, but there are also a great variety of local dishes and mouth-watering delicacies worth trying. On top of the famous dim sum, other Cantonese foods and snacks like egg tarts and fish balls are also too good to miss.

Dim Sum

Knowing Cantonese will make your visits to local food stalls and restaurants more enjoyable—you’ll know how to order! Many of the more local food stalls are operated by the older generation who might not know English, so learning how to pronounce 雞蛋仔 (meaning: egg waffle; romanization: gai1 daan6 zai2) and order 魚蛋 (meaning: fish ball; romanization: jyu4 daan2) will surely help! 

6. Cantonese will enrich your travel experience.

Hong Kong is a colorful city with lots to offer. With a breathtaking skyline, numerous shopping arcades and markets, and a great deal of bustling bars, this tiny city has it all. This crowded city also attracts millions of visitors every year (we are 293 times smaller than Norway with 1.4 times the population). The robust and cosmopolitan nightlife has also seduced the hearts of many foreigners and expats. 

But there’s more to that! 

Hong Kong is also culturally rich with its own unique history. If you’re culturally curious and enjoy in-depth travel, learning Cantonese will make your travel experience much more enjoyable. You can really explore and get to know the city, and immerse yourself culturally. It will also unlock so many cool local places and hidden gems that most travelers would find difficult to get to!

7. Knowing Cantonese will facilitate friendships with the locals.

Want to make local friends and know more about the everyday life of Hong Kongers? Even though English is one of the official languages in Hong Kong, Cantonese is the go-to language in the everyday lives of locals. Not to mention the fact that people from the more rural areas may not even speak English at all.

A Group of Friends

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! And you’ll be able to make new local friends along the way and hone your friendships (or even a new romance!) with the local language.

8. It will make Cantonese movies and songs more enjoyable.

Another reason why you should learn Cantonese is that it will allow you to enjoy movies and other media in the native language.

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

There are many movies, dramas, and songs created in Hong Kong that are loved by people all over the world. 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.

9. Learning a new language trains your brain.

Studies have shown that studying another language can improve memory and keep one’s brain in good condition. This, in turn, may prevent the early onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia, giving the language-learner up to five additional years of quality life to live!

Plus, because Cantonese has nine tones, it trains your musical abilities too! 

10. Cantonese is easy to learn.

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 does, 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: “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. 

11. Why is CantoneseClass101 Great for Learning Cantonese?

Excited to embark on your Cantonese journey, but wondering where to learn Cantonese online?

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 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! 

Before you go, let us know in the comments if you’re convinced yet! Also feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns you have about the language, and we’ll be glad to get back to you.

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

Cantonese Proverbs and Idioms

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Proverbs allow us to articulate our ideas and ways of thinking in a fun way! Like quotes, they provide us with wisdom and insight—they can even serve as a window into other cultures!

Inspiration - a Woman with a Light Bulb above Her Head

Do you want to put some Cantonese proverbs and idioms in your pocket? Without further delay, let’s review our top thirty selections!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Animal-Related Idioms
  2. Ghost-Related Sayings
  3. Food-Related Sayings
  4. Sayings About People
  5. Tree-Related Proverbs
  6. Other Sayings
  7. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Animal-Related Idioms

An Elephant

There are plenty of Cantonese proverbs and idioms featuring animals. Below, we’ll introduce you to our favorites! 

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.

Imagine that Martin is really bad at math, but claims that he’ll get full marks on the upcoming calculus exam. In this situation, you might reply with this phrase. 

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
  • Additional Notes: Hong Kong prohibits the slaughtering of dogs or cats for use as food; you won’t actually find shops selling dog meat!

If Lucy claims that the designer bags she’s selling are real (but they are indeed fake), you might say this phrase.

大石砸死蟹

  • Romanization: daai6 sek6 zaak6 sei2 haai5
  • Literal Translation: A big rock weighs down on a crab
  • Meaning: To be overpowered by overwhelming force

Imagine that Nick asks you to perform a task that’s totally outside the realm of your job responsibilities, but you still have to do it because he’s a powerful member of the company. You could then express your frustration with this phrase.

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. 

Imagine that Christy entered a relationship knowing full well that the guy is in love with someone else. She later complains to you that she is the victim, to which you reply with this phrase. 

老貓燒鬚

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

You might use this phrase after Rick (who’s an English teacher) makes a silly grammatical mistake while giving a lesson. 

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. 

You could use this phrase after being tasked with helping an ignorant coworker become a high-flyer. 

企喺城樓睇馬打交

  • Romanization: kei5 hai2 sing4 lau4 tai2 maa5 daa2 gaau1
  • Literal Translation: Standing on a fort and watching horses fight each other
  • Meaning: This one refers to keeping oneself out of a serious matter.

Imagine that James initiates a fight, but then walks away from it immediately while others continue to argue. This would be the perfect occasion to use this idiom! 

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.

You might say this phrase when Shirley accepts a job offer for a position she doesn’t really like, because she needs a stepping stone toward something better. 

扯貓尾

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

Imagine that Anthony knows his project is going to fail, but his friend Ivan covers for him so that everything looks smooth. You could describe the situation with this phrase.

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.

When Sunny knows the answer to a question but fails to speak up, you could describe her situation with this phrase.

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. 

You could use this phrase after your friend Gary makes a huge gain in the stock market. 

打蛇隨棍上

  • Romanization: daa2 se4 ceoi4 gwan3 soeng5
  • Literal Translation: Hit a snake and it crawls up the stick
  • Meaning: This phrase means to exploit a situation to one’s advantage.

Imagine that Denise learns her colleague is in a rift with their shared boss, and she volunteers to help out in hopes of getting promoted. This phrase would perfectly describe the situation.  

邊有咁大隻蛤乸隨街跳

  • Romanization: bin1 jau5 gam3 daai6 zek3 gaap3 naa2 ceoi4 gaai1 tiu3
  • Literal Translation: Why would there be such a big frog hopping around the street?
  • Meaning: This is a rhetorical question suggesting that a deal is too good to be true.

When Johnny offers you a million dollars for no apparent reason, you could question his intentions with this phrase.

2. Ghost-Related Sayings

A Ghost

Ghosts come up surprisingly often in Cantonese sayings. Here are just a few examples. 

有錢使得鬼推磨

  • Romanization: jau5 cin2 sai2 dak1 gwai2 teoi1 mo4
  • Literal Translation: If you have money, you can make a ghost push a millstone.
  • English Equivalent: Money makes the world go round.

You and Ian are discussing the importance of money, and this phrase comes up during the conversation. 

多個香爐多隻鬼

  • Romanization: do1 go3 hoeng1 lou4 do1 zek3 gwai2
  • Literal Translation: An extra incense burner would attract an extra ghost.
  • Meaning: This saying refers to inviting losses through giving someone the chance to share in your profit. 

When Jeff asks Michelle whether they should invite Raymond to the meeting, Michelle says no because Raymond is not on the same team. She then backs up her decision by saying this phrase.

鬼揞眼

  • Romanization: gwai2 am2 ngaan5
  • Literal Translation: A ghost covers one’s eyes.
  • Meaning: This phrase refers to a Freudian slip, where a person misspeaks and thus reveals their subconscious thoughts or mindset. 

Imagine that you and Michael are talking, when he accidentally says he’s going to the bar. But you know that he actually needs to go back to work. By using this phrase, you would be implying that what he wants to do is go to the bar. 

呃鬼食豆腐

  • Romanization: aak1 gwai2 sik6 dau6 fu6
  • Literal Translation: Cheating the ghost to eat bean curd
  • Meaning: This refers to tricking someone or luring them into a trap.

You might use this phrase when Ben tells you he loves you, but you know he’s been lying to and exploiting you.

3. Food-Related Sayings

A Table of Food

Considering the significance of food in Cantonese culture (and really, any culture), it should come as no surprise that many Cantonese sayings reference food!

食鹽多過你食米

  • Romanization: sik6 jim4 do1 gwo3 nei5 sik6 mai5
  • Literal Translation: Ate more salt than rice
  • Meaning: This idiom refers to someone who is more experienced at something than another person is.

When Felix says he’s a relationship expert but has only dated once, you might reply with this phrase if you’re more experienced than he is.

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.

You could use this phrase when Teddy promises you that he’ll come back, but he never does.

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.

You could say this after Celia shys away from a swimming contest even though she’s the best swimmer in town.

4. Sayings About People

A Group of People

No two people are exactly alike, but we all share some similar life experiences. Here are a few Cantonese idioms and proverbs on the topic! 

和尚擔遮

  • Romanization: wo4 soeng2 daam1 ze1
  • Literal Translation: Monk holding an umbrella
  • Meaning: This means to do whatever one pleases.

When Arthur teases a woman without consent and walks away just because he’s powerful, you could say this in response. 

一竹篙打一船人

  • Romanization: jat1 zuk1 gou1 daa2 jat1 syun4 jan4
  • Literal Translation: Hitting everyone on a boat with a punt pole
  • English Equivalent: Tarred with the same brush

When Queenie claims that Sally is bad just because Sally is friends with Stephen, you could use this phrase.

醜婦終須見家翁

  • Romanization: cau2 fu2 zung1 seoi1 gin3 gaa1 jung1 
  • Literal Translation: An ugly woman still has to meet her husband’s father
  • Meaning: This saying means that one needs to deal with an outstanding issue eventually, even if they don’t want to. 

You might use this phrase when your friend Sophie confides in you that her ex is dating someone new, but she doesn’t want to yet. 

皇帝唔急太監急

  • Romanization: wong4 dai3 m4 gap1 taai3 gaam1 gap1
  • Literal Translation: The emperor is not in a hurry, but the eunuchs are.
  • Meaning: This refers to being more anxious about someone’s business than the person concerned is.

Imagine that Victor has homework to do but is currently relaxing. Kelvin keeps urging him to finish his work, which would be an example of someone being anxious over another’s work. 

5. Tree-Related Proverbs

A Tree

People often look to nature for wisdom and to seek out correlations with our own lives. Here are a couple of Cantonese proverbs that use trees as a metaphor! 

樹大有枯枝

  • Romanization: syu6 daai6 jau5 fu1 zi1
  • Literal Translation: A big tree has some dead branches.
  • Meaning: There are good and bad people in every group.

Sam assumes that all higher-ups within an institution are competent, but you comment otherwise using this saying. 

刀仔鋸大樹

  • Romanization: dou1 zai2 geoi3 daai6 syu6
  • Literal Translation: Use a little knife to saw down a tree.
  • Meaning: This phrase refers to using little capital to make a big profit.

You might say this when Sarah invests money in a stock, and its value increases fivefold. 

6. Other Sayings

To wrap up, here are just a few more Cantonese sayings on a variety of topics. 

打橫行

  • Romanization: daa2 waang4 haang4
  • Literal Translation: Walking across
  • Meaning: This means to do whatever one pleases.

When Richard fires a lady just because she doesn’t brownose, you might describe his action with this phrase. 

過橋抽板

  • Romanization: gwo3 kiu4 cau1 baan2
  • Literal Translation: Pull up the planks after crossing the bridge
  • Meaning: This means to betray one’s friends once the crisis is over, or to abandon one’s friends once one is safe. 

Imagine that you’ve helped Nicky a lot in tough times, but she cuts ties with you once she meets someone richer without any explanation. This phrase would describe her action. 

摸門釘

  • Romanization: mo2 mun4 deng1
  • Literal Translation: Scrape the door nails
  • Meaning: This refers to trying to visit someone, but not being able to find him or her at their place.

Imagine that Simon goes to visit Tony, but Tony isn’t at home. This phrase could be used to describe the situation. 

風水輪流轉

  • Romanization: fung1 seoi2 leon4 lau4 zyun2
  • Literal Translation: The wheel of fortune turns.
  • Meaning: Just because someone is successful now, doesn’t mean they will be in the future. 

You might say this when Rex and Nicholas brag about their achievement and behave cruelly to their teammates.

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

Cantonese proverbs and idioms are interesting, aren’t they? Do you want to dive deeper into Cantonese after learning these popular sayings?

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

10 Places to Visit in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong is a colorful city with lots to offer. With a breathtaking skyline, numerous shopping arcades and markets, a great deal of bustling bars, and the highest concentration of restaurants offering both international and local cuisines, this tiny city has it all.

Can’t wait to visit Hong Kong and see one of the world’s greatest cities? Then dive into this Hong Kong travel guide from CantoneseClass101.com for practical travel tips, a list of places you just have to see, and some survival phrases in Cantonese to help you make the most of your trip!

Hong Kong Skyline

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Before You Go
  2. Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip
  3. Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)
  4. Personal Picks
  5. Cantonese Survival Phrases
  6. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Before You Go

Are you visiting Hong Kong for the first time? Then you’ll greatly benefit from becoming familiar with this magical city and learning how to best prepare for your trip. To give you a head start, here are some quick facts and travel tips for you! 

Quick Facts

Let’s start with a few basic facts you should know…

  • Currency: HKD (the thirteenth most traded currency in the world) 
  • Official Languages: Cantonese and English
  • Ethnicities: Han Chinese (92%), Ethnic Minorities (8%, mostly Filipino or Indonesian)
  • Climate: Subtropical climate zone

Hong Kong is located at the eastern Pearl River Delta of the South China Sea in Southeast Asia. With a land mass of 1,104 km2 and a population of 7 million people, Hong Kong is the world’s most densely populated city. Hong Kong is also highly developed and ranks fourth on the UN Human Development Index.

This city is known for its strong role in the trade, business, and tourism industries, and it ranks third as a global financial center (after New York and London). It’s the richest city in the world.

Hong Kong can be broken down into four main parts: 

  • Hong Kong Island: This island is labeled “the heart of Hong Kong,” and this is where you’ll find the majority of its businesses. You can also find lots and lots of skyscrapers, luxury hotels, and quite a few tourist attractions (including the Victoria Peak).
  • Kowloon: This is where you can find most of the museums and markets.
  • The New Territories: This area is known for its wetland parks and temples.
  • Outlying Islands: Hong Kong also has a couple hundred outlying islands. One such island is Lantau Island, which is home to Ngong Ping (where you can find the Giant Buddha and Po Lin Monastery) and Hong Kong Disneyland.

Background

In 1842, the British made Hong Kong a crown colony; the city was under British rule and influence for over 150 years. Hong Kong was released back to China in 1997, under the “one country, two systems” structure. Today, Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China.

Considering its history, Hong Kong is very different from China socially, culturally, politically, and economically:

  • Socially, Hong Kong enjoys greater freedom of speech. The usage of social media such as Facebook and Twitter are allowed.
  • Culturally, the dominating language in Hong Kong is Cantonese (with Traditional Chinese), as opposed to Mandarin (with Simplified Chinese) in China. Hong Kong also has its own education and legal systems adopting the common law.
  • Politically, Hong Kong has its own government and parliament. It also has its own immigration system, so even people from mainland China have to go through immigration checks upon arriving in Hong Kong.
  • Economically, Hong Kong embraces economic freedom and allows the free flow of capital.

Several HKD10 Bills

Travel Tips

Planning a trip to Hong Kong can be a stressful task, especially if you’ve never been before. Here are a few travel tips to help you plan and make your visit a lot more enjoyable. 

Best Time to Visit 

Hong Kong is situated in the subtropical climate zone and has four seasons: a very humid spring, a rainy summer, an amiable autumn, and a cool winter. Hong Kong is subjected to tropical cyclones from May to September. The average annual temperature is 23°C (73.4°F).

Based on the weather, many would agree that the best time to visit Hong Kong is during the months of October and November, when the temperature is pleasant with ample sunshine. 

Transportation

The transportation system of Hong Kong is highly developed and has great coverage. Most signs are in both Traditional Chinese and English, and you can conveniently access most places via:

  • Mass Transit Railway (or MTR) – This is Hong Kong’s railway system that links Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and New Territories. Trains come in every minute during rush hour.
  • Buses and minibuses
  • Tramways (only on Hong Kong Island)
  • Ferries (between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, and to the Outlying Islands) 
  • Taxis

If you plan to stay overnight in Hong Kong, you can buy an Octopus card. It can be used to pay for almost all public transport (plus many convenience stores and supermarkets).

A Sign Showing the Name of a MTR Station

Cost

How expensive is it to visit Hong Kong? 

You should plan to spend around HKD1,085 (USD 140) per day. This is just an average, and your own expenses will vary based on your dining, transportation, and lodging preferences. On average, people spend…

  • …HKD205 (USD 26) on meals per day.
  • …HKD55 (USD 7.04) on local transportation per day.
  • …HKD959 (USD 124) on hotels per night (for a couple). 

Other

  • Hong Kong is quite safe to travel to.
  • Many shops in Hong Kong close late, and some are even open twenty-four hours (fast food shops, convenience stores,certain supermarkets, etc.). 
  • There are many bars and clubs, so you can look forward to Hong Kong’s vibrant nightlife. 
  • Hong Kong is a Cantonese-speaking society, but most people do speak basic English because English is compulsory in school. Also, due to historical reasons, English is one of the official languages in Hong Kong. 

2. Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip

If you’re only visiting Hong Kong for a day or two, you may want to prioritize the most popular attractions. Here are our recommendations for a shorter trip. 

1 – Victoria Peak (太平山)

Located on Hong Kong Island, Victoria Peak is not only the island’s highest point but also one of the city’s top attractions. From the top, you gain a whimsical view of the cityscape and Victoria Harbour—if you can, visit in the evening for an even more spectacular sight!

Victoria Peak

How to get there: Take MTR to Central Station and exit at Exit J2. Then, cross the Chater Garden and walk along Garden Road. You’ll see the Peak Tram Terminus on your left. Take the tram to get to the peak.

2 – Mong Kok (旺角)

This is one of the more local parts of the city, famous for shopping and food. The streets of Mong Kok are always crammed with people, especially at night. The area’s unique dynamic blends old shops with new ones, and fashionable restaurants with street stalls. You can find everything from clothes and cosmetics to electronics, sports equipment, and more.

Mong Kok

How to get there: Take MTR to Mong Kok Station and exit at Exit B2 or B3.

3 – Star Ferry (天星小輪)

If you want a great view of Victoria Harbour, take the Star Ferry from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui (or vice-versa). It costs only HKD3.7 (~USD 0.5) and takes less than ten minutes. The ferry is also a great place to take a short rest from the bustling metropolitan area of Hong Kong.

Victoria Harbour

How to get there: Take MTR to Central Station/Hong Kong Station and walk to Central Pier 7. Alternatively, you can take MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui Station/East Tsim Sha Tsui Station and walk to the Tsim Sha Tsui Ferry Pier on Salisbury Road.

4 – Ngong Ping / The Giant Buddha (昂坪 / 天壇大佛)

Located on the more relaxing Lantau Island, the Giant Buddha is one of the world’s largest bronze statues of Buddha, at 34 meters tall. Visitors who want to reach the Buddha must climb up a couple hundred steps or take a drive up the road that leads to it. After such a climb, visitors can walk around and rest at Ngong Ping Village and Ngong Ping Tea House.

Ngong Ping 360

How to get there: Take MTR to Tung Chung Station and then take bus no. 23. Alternatively, you can take the cable car Ngong Ping 360 to better enjoy the scenic view of Lantau Island. 

3. Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)

Will you be staying in Hong Kong a little longer? Great! This will give you ample time to see even more of this beautiful city. Here are the places we recommend you visit during a longer stay. 

5 – Ocean Park (海洋公園)

Ocean Park is a marine-life theme park that offers rides, shows, tours, and family-friendly attractions and activities. One of its main attractions is a roller coaster ride that “dives into the sea”! The theme park is also located in a more scenic part of Hong Kong, and you can enjoy a great seaview in the cable car.

How to get there: Take MTR to Ocean Park Station.

6 – Stanley (赤柱)

Stanley is a beautiful little fishing town by the bay. It’s not very big, but it has tons of small shops and a lovely beach. You can suntan on the beach, take a walk through the trees’ shade, and enjoy a great view of the romantic mansions. To unwind, you can also grab a drink at a coffee shop, check out the food markets, or grab a souvenir for your loved ones.

How to get there: Take MTR to Central Station and exit at Exit D, then take bus no. 6, 6A, 6X, 66, or 260 at Central (Exchange Square) Bus Terminus.

7 – Avenue of Stars & Symphony of Lights (星光大道 / 幻彩詠香江)

The Avenue of Stars showcases Hong Kong’s film industry—you can find the names, signatures, and handprints of the city’s greatest stars on the promenade. There’s even a bronze statue of the legendary Bruce Lee!

Another reason to visit the Avenue of Stars is the Symphony of Lights. This is a light show at Victoria Harbour which incorporates a dazzling array of colorful lights accompanied by music, featuring 44 of Hong Kong’s skyscrapers—both in Kowloon and on the Hong Kong Island side of Victoria Harbour. 

How to get there: Take MTR to East Tsim Sha Tsui Station and exit at Exit J. 

8 – Lan Kwai Fong / Central (蘭桂坊 / 中環)

Central is the core of Hong Kong’s finances and businesses (and where you can find the most skyscrapers per capita). Lan Kwai Fong is located in Central and it’s the place to go for a taste of Hong Kong’s nightlife. All the bars on the street are fairly small, but they have great music, colorful lights, and a great atmosphere. Many of the people who work in Central go there to enjoy some drinks and socialize with friends.

How to get there: Take MTR to Central Station and exit at Exit D2, then walk along D’Aguilar Street to Lan Kwai Fong.

4. Personal Picks

Although Hong Kong is a bustling city full of high rises, almost 70% of Hong Kong is covered by natural or forested areas. Below are my personal picks for those who enjoy nature and want to explore the less “city” side of Hong Kong!

9 – Dragon’s Back (龍脊)

Dragon’s Back is the last leg of the Hong Kong Trail. The path on Dragon’s Back is widely deemed as one of the best urban hikes in Hong Kong. It has a sightseeing platform that provides truly spectacular views of Hong Kong Island and its shoreline

How to get there: Take MTR to Shau Kei Wan Station and exit at Exit A3, then take bus no. 9 at the Shau Kei Wan Bus Terminus.

10 – Tai O (大澳)

With roots going back to the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644 A.D.), Tai O Fishing Village is full of history and heritage. Tai O is home to the Tanka, a stilt-house community. You can find boats navigating the channel between houses, cafes offering a relaxing afternoon, and restaurants offering fresh seafood. 

How to get there: Take MTR to Tung Chung Station and then take bus no. 11.

5. Cantonese Survival Phrases

Here are some of the most useful words and phrases for your travels in Hong Kong! 

1. Hello.

Chinese Character: 你好
Romanization: nei5 hou2

2. Thank you.

Chinese Character: 唔該 (when someone offers to help you)
Romanization: m4 goi1

OR

Chinese Character: 多謝 (when someone presents a gift)
Romanization: do1 ze6

3. Bye.

Chinese Character: 再見
Romanization: zoi3 gin3

4. Sorry.

Chinese Character: 對唔住 (to express apology and remorse)
Romanization: deoi3 m4 zyu6

OR

Chinese Character: 唔好意思 (to apologize for minor things or to grab someone’s attention)
Romanization: m4 ho2 ji3 si3

5. Good.

Chinese Character:
Romanization: hou2

6. I don’t understand.

Chinese Character: 我唔明
Romanization: ngo5 m4 ming4

7. Where is the washroom?

Chinese Character: 廁所喺邊呀?
Romanization: ci3 so2 hai2 bin1 aa3

8. How much is this?

Chinese Character: 幾多錢呀?
Romanization: gei2 do1 cin2 aa3

9. I want this.

Chinese Character: 我想要呢個
Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 jiu3 ni1 go3 

10. Help!

Chinese Character: 救命!
Romanization: gau3 ming6

Additional Notes:

You can call either 112 or 999 when you encounter an emergency. These are the most common emergency telephone numbers that can be dialed, free of charge, from most mobile telephones—even if they’re locked.

How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

Would you like to learn a bit more Cantonese before traveling to Hong Kong? 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 which Hong Kong locations you want to visit the most, and why! We look forward to hearing from you.

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

A Brief Overview of Hong Kong Culture

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Hong Kong is truly an amazing place—it’s one of the world’s greatest cities and boasts a unique “East meets West” culture. Wondering why this crowded, tiny city (we’re 293 times smaller than Norway with 1.4 times the population) attracts millions of visitors every year? Or would you like to know a bit more about Hong Kong’s culture before settling here? In either case, you’ve come to the right place. In this lesson from CantoneseClass101, we’ll give you a practical overview of Cantonese culture, so read on!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Core Values and Beliefs
  2. Arts
  3. Food
  4. Holidays
  5. Bonus: Our Everyday Lives
  6. Why is CantoneseClass101 the Best Place to Learn Cantonese?

1. Core Values and Beliefs

Common Belief

A key element in understanding the culture of Hong Kong is to become familiar with the values and beliefs of its people. In this section, we’ll talk about what Hong Kongers believe and how this affects their daily lives.

A- The Harmony of East Meets West

A long-time entrepot and once a colony of the British empire, Hong Kong has a diverse mix of cultures that has fascinated travelers from around the globe. You can find people of all races and religions in Hong Kong, and they’re all treated equally with respect. From Central Hong Kong to Chungking Mansion, you can see how people of different races interact, work together, and build friendships. We pride ourselves in our religious liberty, freedom of speech, and diversity. 

The interesting cultural dynamics behind Hong Kong’s mixed culture scene is rare and worth experiencing yourself through traveling, working, and living in Hong Kong. The robust and cosmopolitan nightlife has also seduced the hearts of many foreigners and expats. Read more at CNN Travel and Time Out Hong Kong to see what our vibrant city has to offer. 

B- Family-Oriented

Even though many locals have adopted Western ways of living, Chinese concepts like “family solidarity” and “family glory” are still prevalent. It’s also common for adults to live with their family or parents, partly due to the sky-rocketed property prices and rent, as well as the strong emphasis on family bonding in Hong Kong.

Many HongKongers live in nuclear families, usually with only one or two children, as most living spaces in Hong Kong are small. The traditional role of a mother is to take care of the family, though many HongKongers choose to hire a housemaid to carry out the domestic duties so that the mother can work full-time. 

In Cantonese family culture, age determines hierarchal seniority within a family. Everyone is expected to respect their elders in accordance with filial piety, a deeply rooted virtue in many Southeast Asian countries. HongKongers usually worship their ancestors at least twice a year, which stems from the belief that children are eternally indebted to their parents. This respect for seniority can also be observed through language; for example, the word “brother” can be further divided into the words “elder brother” and “younger brother.”

2. Arts

Hong Kong is well-known for its various art forms, especially in regards to its film, music, and television industries. Many of these Cantonese popular culture items are also popular around the globe. Let’s take a look!

A- Movie & Film

Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Stephen Chow… Even though Hong Kong is a really small city, it’s given birth to quite a few good movies and movie stars!

The movie industry in Hong Kong has been one of the most successful worldwide, especially during the second half of the twentieth century. It remains prominent in Hong Kong despite a severe slump starting in the mid-1990s. Local martial artists and stars, such as Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, are known globally. Many Hong Kong actors have transitioned to Hollywood over the years as well, including Chow Yun Fat and John Woo. Hong Kong cinema has also received international recognition through the work of director Wong Kar Wai, whose 2046 is one of the best films of the last ten years.

Our all-time favorite Cantonese movie: In the Mood for Love (2000). In the Mood for Love is arguably one of the best Hong Kong movies in centuries. Directed by the internationally renowned filmmaker Kar-Wai Wong, the movie paints the love story of two middle-aged Hong Kongers in the 1960s, starring the handsome Tony Leung Chiu-wai and the elegant Maggie Cheung Man-yuk. Both betrayed by their partners, the lonely next-door neighbors are eager to seek comfort in each other—but are hesitant to go further.

B- Music

Cantopop is a colloquialism for “Cantonese pop music” or “Hong Kong popular music.” This well-loved gem of Hong Kong’s pop culture is a strong representation of local Cantonese music. In addition to Cantopop, Hong Kongers also listen to Mandopop from Taiwan and China. Most artists are essentially multilingual these days and sing in both Cantonese and Mandarin.

One popular singer in recent years is Eason Chan Yik-Shun, a male singer from Hong Kong. He has been described as a blast of fresh air in the Hong Kong music scene, and his album U87 has been recommended by Time Magazine as one of the five best Asian albums worth buying.

C- Television

Hong Kong’s main broadcast television stations include RTHK, HKOpenTV, ViuTV, and TVB. The last one, launched in 1967, is currently the most popular television station in Hong Kong and is known for having been Hong Kong’s first commercial station that was free to air. Many Hong Kong households also use paid cable and satellite television. 

Soap operas, comedies, and variety shows produced in Hong Kong now reach mass audiences throughout the Chinese-speaking world. Many international and pan-Asian broadcasters (including News Corporation’s STAR TV) are based in Hong Kong because of its position as a hub broadcaster. Hong Kong’s terrestrial commercial TV networks are also making inroads into mainland China.

Someone pointing a remote at a TV

Recommended Cantonese TV show: Best Selling Secrets (2007).

This famous 364-episode sitcom series revolves around complex office and family politics amongst the characters. Wong Ka Nam, a smart and confident lady, left her son and husband behind for the States. After her husband died in an airplane crash in search of her, their son, Luk Chit, was taken into her mother-in-law’s custody. 

Eighteen years have passed since then, and Ka Nam wants to see her son again. But she’s forbidden by her mother-in-law, as Ka Nam was blamed for the death of her husband. Amusingly, Chit and Ka Nam soon become friends and colleagues. 

The story evolves and touches on the rivalry, friendship, and romance within the office and household.


3. Food

Hong Kong is a food paradise! Not only does it have the highest density of restaurants in the world and all types of international cuisines, but there’s also a great variety of local dishes and mouth-watering delicacies worth trying. On top of the famous dim sum, other Cantonese foods and snacks like egg tart and fish balls are also too good to be missed.

Below are our top five picks for the best Cantonese dishes and snacks:

A- Dim Sum

The most famous Cantonese-style cuisine element has got to be dim sum!

Dimsum

 點心 (romanization: dim2 sam1)

In case you didn’t know, dim sum refers to bite-sized portions of food served in small bamboo baskets or on a small plate. You need to visit a Cantonese teahouse in order to try dim sum dishes. In Hong Kong, we call the action of going to a Cantonese teahouse for dim sum 飲茶” (jam2 caa4), which means “drink tea,” as Chinese tea is usually served with dim sum dishes.

B- Roasted Goose

Roasted Goose

燒鵝 (romanization: siu1 ngo2) – Photo by Simon Law, under CC BY-SA 2.0

Roasted goose is a type of siu mei (Cantonese-style Charcuterie). It has a crispy outer skin with moist meat inside. Coated with flavorful sauce, roasted goose has a unique barbecue flavor that will surely amaze you.

C- Clay Pot Rice

Clay Pot Rice

煲仔飯  (romanization: bou1 zai2 faan6)

Although this dish may look simple—steamed rice in a clay pot with toppings (and of course, a great sauce)—it’s totally worth a try, especially for the slightly burnt rice at the bottom of the clay pot. Common toppings for clay pot rice include pork, chicken, beef, and Chinese sausages.

D- Wonton Noodles

Wonton Noodles

雲吞麵  (romanization: wan4 tan1 min6) – Photo by Alpha, under CC BY-SA 2.0

Wontons are Chinese dumplings filled with shrimp or meat. Served with clear broth along with thin egg noodles, this common Hong Kong dish is a must-try. 

E- Egg Tarts

Egg Tarts

蛋撻  (romanization: daan6 taat1)

This delicious pastry is filled with sweet egg and best served hot. You can find egg tarts in both Cantonese teahouses and local bakeries.


4. Holidays

As a city where East meets West, we celebrate both Chinese and Western holidays. Here are our most celebrated holidays:

A- Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year is the longest celebration on the Chinese calendar, lasting from the final day of the last month to the beginning of the Lantern Festival. During this holiday, it’s common to gather with family, eat rice cakes, and give children red packets filled with money.

B- Christmas

A Christmas Tree

Christmas is celebrated as a major festival and public holiday in Hong Kong. It’s also the best time to do some shopping with all the discounts the shops are offering!

C- Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival takes place on the fifth day of the fifth month on the Chinese calendar. Its origins relate to the suicide of Qu Yuan in 278 BCE. He was a poet and statesman of the Chu Kingdom during the Warring States period. Traditionally, we eat rice dumplings on this date.

D- Mid-Autumn Festival

A Mooncake

The Mid-Autumn Festival takes place on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar, during a full moon. It’s the time to get some traditional mooncakes or snowy mooncakes!

5. Bonus: Our Everyday Lives

Fancy to learn more about how a local HongKonger lives? We’ve selected three Hong Kong culture facts to give you a better picture of what life in Hong Kong is like! 

A- Tai Chi

Martial Arts

Tai Chi is considered an internal Chinese martial art. It’s practiced for self defense as well as its potential health benefits. If you were to walk the streets or parks of Hong Kong in the morning, you would see a lot of elderly people doing Tai Chi. 

B- Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine refers to various medical practices passed down from Ancient China, many of which are still popular today. Some examples include acupuncture, some types of massage, and dietary therapy.

C- Protest

Hong Kong’s protest culture is very much alive, and there are protests in Hong Kong almost every other week. Most of them are led by the Civil Human Rights Front, a Chinese organization which focuses on political issues in Hong Kong. 

6. Why is CantoneseClass101 the Best Place to Learn Cantonese?

CantoneseClass101.com

One important element of the Cantonese culture is, of course, the Cantonese language! 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 Cantonese culture compares to that in your country. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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

Must-Try Cantonese Foods, Dishes, and Snacks!

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Hong Kong is a food paradise! Not only does it have the highest density of restaurants in the world, but there is also a great variety of local dishes and mouth-watering delicacies worth trying. On top of the famous dim sum (which we have an entire section on later), there are other Cantonese foods, such as egg tarts and fish balls, that are too good to be missed.

A Happy Face

There’s a saying in Cantonese that reveals how much we care about food:

  • 民以食為天 (man4 ji5 sik6 wai4 tin1) – “Food is god to people.” 

Indeed, food is one of the most important aspects of life: it brings you energy and joy, and you need it every single day. It’s also a great way to experience another culture and it makes for a lovely conversation starter. 

Can’t wait to learn more? Let’s get started!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Let's Cook in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. The Top 5 Must-Try Dishes
  2. The Top 8 Dim Sum Dishes
  3. At the Restaurant
  4. The Top 5 Hong Kong Snacks
  5. Bonus: The Top 5 “Bizarre” Foods
  6. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. The Top 5 Must-Try Dishes

Visiting Hong Kong soon? Then you need to try these delectable Cantonese dishes!

1 – Char siu egg rice

Made famous by Stephen Chow’s movie The God of Cookery, char siu egg rice is now one of Hong Kong’s signature dishes. The combined texture and flavor of runny eggs, tender char siu (flavored barbecued pork), and soy sauce is a heavenly pleasure.

2 – Roasted goose

Roasted Goose

燒鵝 (siu1 ngo2) – Photo by Simon Law, under CC BY-SA 2.0

Roasted goose is a type of siu mei (Cantonese-style charcuterie). It has a crispy outer skin with moist meat inside. Coated with flavorful sauce, roasted goose has a unique barbecue flavor that will surely amaze you.

3 – Stir-fried beef with flat rice noodles

Stir-fried beef with flat rice noodles

乾炒牛河  (gon1 caau2 ngau4 ho2) – Photo by N509FZ, under CC BY-SA 4.0

Made with soy sauce, onions, bean sprouts, and rice noodles, this classic dish is a bit oily but super-delicious. A great dish to have after a day of hard work.

 4 – Clay pot rice

Clay Pot Rice

煲仔飯  (bou1 zai2 faan6)

Although this dish may look simple—steamed rice in a clay pot with toppings (and of course, a great sauce)—it’s totally worth a try, especially the slightly burnt rice at the bottom of the clay pot. Common toppings for clay pot rice include pork, chicken, beef, and Chinese sausages.

5 – Wonton noodles

Wonton Noodles

雲吞麵  (wan4 tan1 min6) – Photo by Alpha, under CC BY-SA 2.0

A staple of Cantonese cuisine, wontons are Chinese dumplings filled with shrimp or meat. Served with clear broth along with thin egg noodles, this is a must-try Hong Kong dish. 

2. The Top 8 Dim Sum Dishes

The most famous Cantonese-style cuisine has got to be dim sum, or 點心 (dim2 sam1)! 

In case you didn’t know, dim sum refers to bite-sized portions of food served in small bamboo baskets or on a small plate. You need to go to Cantonese tea houses for dim sum dishes. In Hong Kong, we call the action of going to a Cantonese tea house for dim sum 飲茶 (jam2 caa4), which means “drink tea.” This is because Chinese tea is usually served with dim sum dishes.

1 – Roasted pork buns

Roasted Pork Buns

叉燒包  (caa1 siu1 baau1) – Photo by Takeaway, under CC BY-SA 3.0

The roasted pork bun is one of the most popular dim sum dishes, consisting of fluffy bread with flavored barbecued pork (char siu) inside. Traditionally we steam the bun, but baked buns are getting more and more popular. 

2 – Steamed shrimp dumplings

Steamed Shrimp Dumplings

蝦餃 (haa1 gaau2) – Photo by Simon Law, under CC BY-SA 2.0

Steamed shrimp dumplings is another signature dim sum dish in Hong Kong. The wrapper of a good steamed shrimp dumpling must be thin yet strong enough to withstand being picked up with chopsticks. The shrimp inside should be fresh with a little juice.

3 – Rice noodle rolls

Rice Noodle Rolls

腸粉 (coeng2 fan2) – Photo by Ewan Monro, under CC BY-SA 2.0

Rice noodle rolls consist of a sheet made of rice filled with things like beef, shrimp, or char siu inside. We eat it with soy sauce.

4 – Pork dumplings

Pork Dumplings

燒賣  (siu1 maai2) – Photo by Geoffreyrabbit, under CC BY-SA 4.0

Pork dumplings is one of the best dim sum dishes, featuring pork and mushroom wrapped in a thin yellow skin and topped with crab roe.

5 – Turnip cake

Made with turnips, mushrooms, and meat (usually Chinese sausages), turnip cakes are great steamed, pan-fried, or stir-fried with XO sauce.

6 – Spring rolls

Spring rolls are one of the best Cantonese cuisine items, and one you’re probably familiar with. A spring roll consists of vegetables and sometimes meat rolled inside a sheet of dough and deep-fried until crispy (but still juicy inside). Who wouldn’t want one?

7 – Steamed beef tripe

Steamed Beef Tripe

牛柏葉  (ngau4 paak3 jip6) – Photo by gigijin, under CC BY-SA 2.0

Steamed beef tripe is a common dim sum dish in Hong Kong, but it’s less well-known internationally compared to the ones above. It’s prepared by steaming the omasum of a cow in small slices of garlic and ginger. The unique appearance and texture of this dish wows many foreigners.

8 – Dumpling soup

Dumpling Soup

灌湯餃  (gun3 tong1 gaau2) – Photo by Kent Wang, under CC BY-SA 2.0

A prime example of Cantonese-style cuisine, this is simply a large dumpling filled with meat, shrimp, dried scallops, and mushrooms, served with broth. It’s a pricier dim sum dish, but the complex texture and flavor make it worth a try.

3. At the Restaurant

Now that you’re good and hungry for some exquisite Cantonese cuisine, it’s time to learn some phrases you can use at the restaurant!

  •  Phrase 1: 你有乜嘢好介紹呀? 
    • Romanization: nei5 jau5 mat1 je5 hou2 gaai3 siu6 aa3
    • Meaning: What do you recommend?
  •  Phrase 2: 我可唔可以睇下menu?
    • Romanization: ngo5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 tai2 haa5 menu
    • Meaning: Can I see the menu? 
  •  Phrase 3: 我想要呢個,唔該。
    • Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 jiu3 ni1 go3, m4 goi1
    • Meaning: I will have this one, please. 
  •  Phrase 4: 我可唔可以要杯水?
    • Romanization: ngo5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 jiu3 bui1 seoi2
    • Meaning: Can I have a glass of water, please?
  •  Phrase 5: 呢道菜有啲咩? 
    • Romanization:  ni1 dou6 coi3 jau5 di1 me1 
    • Meaning: What does this dish contain?
  •  Phrase 6: 呢道菜有冇肉?
    • Romanization: ni1 dou6 coi3 jau5 mou5 juk6
    • Meaning: Does it contain meat? 

4. The Top 5 Hong Kong Snacks

Hong Kong street food is my personal favorite! You can easily find these snacks at food stalls on the streets of Hong Kong.

1 – Fish balls

Fish balls are a typical Hong Kong snack made of fish. They can be found in almost every food stall on the street and are sold with either spicy (curry) sauces or soy sauce.

2 – Egg tarts

Egg Tarts

蛋撻  (daan6 taat1)

This delicious pastry is filled with sweet egg and best served hot. You can find egg tarts in both Cantonese tea houses and local bakeries.

3 – Egg waffle

This snack goes by many names: egg waffles, eggettes, egglets… This sweet egg-based snack is available in several flavors, including chocolate and berry. Some people even eat it with ice cream!

4 – Pineapple bun

The combination of sugar, eggs, flour, and lard makes pineapple bun one of the most beloved foods in Hong Kong. There’s no pineapple, though—it’s named for its surface, which looks like a pineapple. Pineapple bun has a crispy skin and soft bread inside, and can be found in nearly every bakery in the city.

5 – Roasted sweet potatoes and chestnuts

Roasted sweet potatoes and chestnuts are great snacks. You can find street carts selling both items side by side during winter. They smell good and taste even better. Grabbing a bag of roasted sweet potatoes and chestnuts during the freezing winter is just heartwarming. Most of these vendors sell salt-baked quail eggs, too.

5. Bonus: The Top 5 “Bizarre” Foods

To wrap up, let’s look at a few Cantonese food dishes that may surprise you!

1 – Steamed chicken feet

Steamed Chicken Feet

鳳爪  (fung6 zaau2) – Photo by Bryan, under CC BY-SA 2.0

Many foreigners avoid this dish, shocked by the idea of eating chicken feet. But steamed chicken feet are actually quite delicious in black bean sauce. You can find this dish in Cantonese tea houses.

2 – Snake soup

Snake Soup

蛇羹 (se4 gang1) – Photo by Shankar S., under CC BY 2.0

Yes, snake soup is made with snake. But don’t worry: you won’t see anything that resembles a snake in the soup bowl. Snake soup is a delicacy in Hong Kong, famous for its medicinal benefits (from the perspective of Chinese medicine, it “warms up” your body) and its high nutritional value. 

3 – Beef entrails

A beef entrails dish is prepared by stewing good-quality beef with its entrails (such as the tripe and liver) for a couple of hours. You can spot it in most food stalls on the streets of Hong Kong.

 4 – Soy-braised cuttlefish or chicken’s kidney

It may look a little weird, but it’s surely delicious! The cuttlefish and chicken’s kidneys are boiled quickly before being dipped in a soy-based sauce. They’re spongy and chewy, and taste best with mustard.

5 – Stinky tofu

Although it doesn’t smell good, the mixture of creamy tofu and the crisp outer skin is a delight. If you can stand the smell, make sure you try some in Hong Kong! 

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

Amazed by Cantonese food and want to pick up some Cantonese before traveling to Hong Kong?

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 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 which Cantonese food you most want to try. We look forward to hearing from you.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Let's Cook in Cantonese

The 20+ Best Cantonese Quotes for Learners

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Quotes can be a great tool to help you stay motivated. They also offer cultural insight, provide universal words of wisdom, and tastefully season a pleasant conversation.

Do you want to put some Cantonese quotes in your pocket? We’ve compiled some of the greatest Cantonese quotes with English translations and equivalents, handpicked just for you!

Without further delay, here are the top twenty quotes in Cantonese.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Quotes About Life
  2. Quotes About Love
  3. Quotes About Wisdom
  4. Quotes About Success
  5. Bonus: Quotes About Language Learning
  6. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Quotes About Life

A Woman Gazing

What is life all about, and how should a person live? These are questions people have been trying to answer for a very long time. Here are some Cantonese quotes about life to give you some cultural perspective on the topic!  

1. 做人如果無夢想,同條鹹魚有咩分別呀?

Romanization: zou6 jan4 jyu4 gwo2 mou5 mung6 soeng2, tung4 tiu4 haam4 jyu2 jau5 me1 fan1 bit6 aa3
Literal Translation: “If we don’t have any dreams in life, what can distinguish us from a salted fish?”

More about the quote – 

  • Meaning / Equivalent quote: “A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” (John Barrymore)
  • Elaboration: This is a famous quote from Shaolin Soccer, a movie directed by the renowned Hong Kong filmmaker Stephen Chow. We might use this quote, for example, to encourage a friend to chase after his or her dream.
  • Additional notes: Shaolin Soccer is one of the most well-known movies in Hong Kong. Watch the trailer on YouTube!

2. 認真你就輸了

Romanization: jing6 zan1 nei5 zau6 syu1 liu5
Literal Translation: “You lose when you get serious.”

More about the quote – 

  • Meaning / Equivalent quote: “Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.” (Elbert Hubbard)
  • Elaboration: This quote is from the title of a book written by novelist Lin Su of Mainland China. It became popular in Hong Kong starting in 2009, and we use it to remind one another not to get too serious or care too much about results.
  • Additional notes: The famous Hong Kong singer Ava released a song, sung in Mandarin, featuring this quote as a title. Check it out!

3. 即使沒有別人給你理由,生命依然值得堅持。

Romanization: zik1 si2 mut6 jau5 bit6 jan4 kap1 nei5 lei5 jau4, sang1 ming6 ji1 jin4 zik6 dak1 gin1 ci4
Literal Translation: “Even if there is no reason to, life is still worth living.”

More about the quote – 

  • Meaning/ Equivalent quote: “Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.” (William James)
  • Elaboration: This is a famous quote from the award-winning movie, A Simple Life. We use the quote to console a friend who is a bit down.
  • Additional notes: Deanie Ip, the leading actress of this movie, was awarded for her amazing performance with the Best Actress Award at the 68th Venice International Film Festival. Watch the trailer on YouTube!

4. 仍然自由自我,永遠高唱我歌,走遍千里。

Romanization: jing4 jin4 zi6 jau4 zi6 ngo5, wing5 jyun5 gou1 coeng3 ngo5 go1, zau2 pin3 cin1 lei5
Literal Translation: “Be free, sing your own song, walk your own life.”

More about the quote – 

  • Meaning / Equivalent quote: Be yourself.
  • Elaboration: These are some lyrics from the famous song Boundless Oceans, Vast Skies, sung by the Hong Kong rock band Beyond. We use this quote to encourage someone to be his or her true self.
  • Additional notes: Beyond is the most influential Cantopop band from Hong Kong, prominent in overseas Chinese communities and East Asian countries including Japan and Singapore. In fact, Boundless Oceans, Vast Skies is a must-know song for any HongKonger!

5. 對人誠懇,做事負責,多結善緣,自然多得人的幫助。淡泊明志,隨遇而安,不作非分之想, 心境安泰,必少許多失意之苦。

Romanization: deoi3 jan4 sing4 han2, zou6 si6 fu6 zaak3, do1 git3 sin6 jyun4, zi6 jin4 do1 dak1 jan4 dik1 bong1 zo6. daam6 bok6 ming4 zi3, ceoi4 jyu6 ji4 on1, bat1 zok3 fei1 fan6 zi1 soeng2, sam1 ging2 on1 taai3, bit1 siu2 heoi2 do1 sat1 ji3 zi1 fu2
Literal Translation: “Be sincere, responsible, and nice; you will naturally get help from others. Live a simple life, go with the flow, don’t overthink, be calm and present; you will suffer less when you fail.”

More about the quote – 

  • Meaning / Equivalent quote: The message behind this quote is that a good life will follow naturally if you’re nice and kind, and if you go with the flow.
  • Elaboration: This is a famous quote from Hong Kong’s business tycoon Li Ka-Shing, one of the richest men in the world. We can use this quote to motivate ourselves.
  • Additional notes: Li Ka-Shing is a magnificent businessman—he rose from humble beginnings, built and grew his own business when Hong Kong was still dominated by the Brits, and became Asia’s wealthiest man for many years.

6. 進退怎能隨人潮跌墮,重燃那漸冷卻的火,青春瘋過痛過先不會枉過。 

Romanization: zeon3 teoi3 zam2 nang4 ceoi4 jan4 ciu4 dit3 do6, cung4 jin4 naa5 zim6 laang5 koek3 dik1 fo2, cing1 ceon1 fung1 gwo3 tung3 gwo3 sin1 bat1 wui5 wong2 gwo3
Literal Translation: “We cannot just follow others. Let’s light the dimmed fire, for life is meant to be a roller-coaster ride.”

More about the quote – 

  • Meaning / Equivalent quote: 
      Hope when the moment comes,
      You’ll say
      I, I did it all
      I, I did it all
      I owned every second that this world could give
      I saw so many places, the things that I did
      Yeah with every broken bone
      I swear I lived
      (I Lived, OneRepublic)
  • Elaboration: These are lyrics from the song Queen G by Hong Kong songwriter Gloria Tang. We can use this quote to encourage others to follow their heart.
  • Additional notes: Gloria Tang, also known as G.E.M., is a talented Hong Kong singer-songwriter. She was the only Asian artist featured in the Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2016. Listen to one of her most popular songs, Light Years Away!

2. Quotes About Love

A Heart

Are you madly in love with someone? Or maybe you’re a hopeless romantic? Either way, we think you’ll love these Cantonese love quotes!

7. 人世間所有的相遇,都是久別重逢。

Romanization: jan4 sai3 gaan1 so2 jau5 dik1 soeng1 jyu6, dou1 si6 gau2 bit6 cung4 fung4 
Literal Translation: “All encounters in life are reunions after long times apart.”

More about the quote – 

  • Meaning / Equivalent quote: This quote explains Yuanfen, a concept similar to Karma. The message behind it is that we should cherish those we love, but we must also accept separation from them should it occur.
  • Elaboration: This is a famous quote from The Grandmaster, a movie directed by the internationally renowned Hong Kong film director Wong Kar-Wai. We use the quote to console a friend who is having relationship issues.
  • Additional notes: The Grandmaster is Wong’s most expensive production to date. You can watch the trailer of the movie on YouTube!

8. 人生就像一場舞會,教會你最初舞步的人卻未必能陪你走到散場。

Romanization: jan4 sang1 zau6 zoeng6 jat1 coeng4 mou5 wui2, gaau3 wui5 nei5 zeoi3 co1 mou5 bou6 dik1 jan4 koek3 mei6 bit1 nang4 pui4 nei5 zau2 dou3 saan3 coeng4 
Literal Translation: “Life is like a ball, the one who teaches you how to dance may not be able to accompany you until the end.”

More about the quote – 

  • Meaning / Equivalent quote: Life is full of ups and downs, and your first love may not be your last.
  • Elaboration: This quote is from Eileen Chang, a famous Chinese-born American essayist, novelist, and screenwriter. We use this quote to offer condolence to a friend who has just broken up with their first love.
  • Additional notes: Chang is one of the best female Chinese writers of all time. Read her books to gain insight on the Chinese view of love and romance!

9. 不如我哋從頭嚟過。

Romanization: bat1 jyu4 ngo5 dei6 cung4 tau4 lei4 gwo3
Literal Translation: “How about we start over again?”

More about the quote – 

  • Meaning / Equivalent quote: The message behind this quote is to never take anything for granted.
  • Elaboration: It’s from the movie Happy Together, directed by the famous filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai and featuring the handsome Leslie Cheung. In the movie, the main character lost the love of his life because he did not cherish him when he had the chance to. We may use this quote to try reconciling with an ex, for example.
  • 10. 成世人流流長,總會愛上幾個人渣。

    Romanization: seng4 sai3 jan4 lau4 lau4 coeng4, zung2 wui5 oi3 soeng5 gei2 go3 jan4 zaa1
    Literal Translation: “Life is long, no wonder we would fall in love with a few scoundrels in our lifetimes.”

    More about the quote – 

    • Meaning / Equivalent quote: “We are all fools in love.” (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen)
    • Elaboration: This is a famous quote from the movie Love in the Buff. We use this quote to console a friend who was betrayed by her lover.
    • Additional notes: You can learn more about love and relationships from a HongKonger’s perspective in the movie Love in the Buff. Check out its trailer!

    11. 世界上最遙遠的距離,不是生與死,而是我站在你面前,你卻不知道我愛你。

    Romanization: sai3 gaai3 soeng6 zeoi3 jiu4 jyun5 dik1 keoi5 lei4, bat1 si6 sang1 jyu5 sei2, ji4 si6 ngo5 zaam6 zoi6 nei5 min6 cin4, nei5 koek3 bat1 zi1 dou3 ngo5 oi3 nei5 
    Literal Translation: “The furthest distance in this world is not life and death. It is that I am standing in front of you, but you don’t know I love you.”

    More about the quote – 

    • Meaning / Equivalent quote: “If you love someone, tell them. For hearts are often broken by words left unspoken.” (Stephanie Roogle)
    • Elaboration: This quote is from Hong Kong author Amy Cheung. We use this quote to encourage a friend to express his or her love.
    • Additional notes: Amy Cheung is one of Hong Kong’s most popular writers, and she’s very well-known for her books on love and relationships. She was one of China’s ten richest authors in 2013!

    12. 情場不是超級市場,請勿薄利多銷。

    Romanization: cing4 coeng4 bat1 si6 ciu1 kap1 si5 coeng4, cing2 mat6 bok6 lei6 do1 siu1
    Literal Translation: “The realm of love is not a supermarket; please don’t sell with small profit for quick turnover.”

    More about the quote – 

    • Meaning / Equivalent quote: Love is priceless. / Quality over quantity.
    • Elaboration: This is a famous quote from Cantopop lyricist Richard Lam. We use this quote to encourage one to cherish love.

    CantoneseClass101.com has a vocabulary list dedicated to love quotes. Check it out for more bittersweet words on romance! 


    3. Quotes About Wisdom

    Light Bulbs

    What does it mean to be wise, and how is wisdom attained? Here are some Cantonese quotes on the topic to inspire and enlighten you.

    13. 出嚟行,遲早要還 。

    Romanization: ceot1 lei4 haang4, ci4 zou2 jiu3 waan4
    Literal Translation: “This is expected.”

    More about the quote – 

    • Meaning / Equivalent quote: What goes around comes around.
    • Elaboration: This is a famous quote from the movie Infernal Affairs. We use the quote to let our friends know that we have been expecting the consequences of our actions.
    • Additional notes: Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, was actually a remake of Infernal Affairs!

    14. 是非只因強出口,煩惱只為強出頭 。

    Romanization: si6 fei1 zi2 jan1 koeng5 ceot1 hau2, faan4 nou5 zi2 wai6 koeng5 ceot1 tau4
    Literal Translation: “Gossip comes from the mouth, trouble comes from the head.”

    More about the quote – 

    • Meaning / Equivalent quote: Both gossip and trouble are usually self-created.
    • Elaboration: This is from the famous novel The Smiling, Proud Wanderer, written by Hong Kong Wuxia novelist Louis Cha. These words remind us to stay out of others’ business.
    • Additional notes: Louis Cha is Hong Kong’s most famous writer and his Wuxia novels are well-known in every Chinese community. He’s sold over 100 million copies of his works worldwide, excluding pirated copies. He even has an asteroid named after him!

    15. 就算一張廁紙、一條底褲,都有佢本身嘅用處 。

    Romanization: zau6 syun3 jat1 zoeng1 ci3 zi2, jat1 tiu4 dai2 fu3, dou1 jau5 keoi5 bun2 san1 ge3 jung6 cyu3 
    Literal Translation: “Even toilet paper and an undergarment have their own values.”

    More about the quote – 

    • Meaning / Equivalent quote: Everyone is of value.
    • Elaboration: This quote is from Hong Kong filmmaker Stephen Chow’s movie From Beijing with Love. We use the quote to promote the idea of self-worth.
    • Additional notes: This movie is a spoof of the James Bond films, and it contains lots of cultural and satirical elements. 

    16. 和諧唔係一百個人講同一番說話,和諧係一百個人有一百句唔同說話之餘,又互相尊重。 

    Romanization: wo4 haai4 m4 hai6 jat1 baak3 go3 jan4 gong2 tung4 jat1 faan1 syut3 waa6, wo4 haai4 hai6 jat1 baak3 go3 jan4 jau5 jat1 baak3 geoi3 m4 tung4 syut3 waa6 zi1 jyu4, jau6 wu6 soeng1 zyun1 zung6 
    Literal Translation: “Harmony is not 100 people saying the same thing; it is about 100 people saying different things while respecting each other.”

    More about the quote – 

    • Meaning / Equivalent quote: “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” (Bryant H. McGill)
    • Elaboration: This quote is from the Cantonese drama When Heaven Burns. We use the quote to defend ourselves when someone forces his/her opinion on us. We can also use it to encourage someone to embrace new ideas.
    • Additional notes: When Heaven Burns is a unique Cantonese drama in many ways. It centers around the spirit of Rock ‘N’ Roll, humanity, religion, and politics. It gained a strong cult following instantly and was very popular among the younger generation.

    17. 寧可哭得理直氣壯,也不願意笑得鬼鬼祟祟。

    Romanization: ning4 ho2 huk1 dak1 lei5 zik6 hei3 zong3, jaa5 bat1 jyun6 ji3 siu3 dak1 gwai2 gwai2 seoi6 seoi6
    Literal Translation: “I’d rather cry boldly than laugh sneakily.”

    More about the quote – 

    • Meaning / Equivalent quote: The message behind this quote is that we should stand firm for justice.
    • Elaboration: It’s a famous quote from Hong Kong’s award-winning lyricist Albert Leung. We use it to encourage others to embrace and defend justice and righteousness.
    • Additional notes: Almost all HongKongers know at least a few songs written by Albert Leung. He has written over 3500 song lyrics!

    4. Quotes About Success

    A Man Climbing Up a Mountain

    Do you have big plans for the future or concerns about an upcoming project? Maybe one of these Cantonese quotes about success can motivate and encourage you. 

    18. 三個臭皮匠,勝過一個諸葛亮。

    Romanization: saam1 go3 cau3 pei4 zoeng6, sing3 gwo3 jat1 go3 zyu1 got3 loeng6
    Literal Translation: “Three cobblers with their wits combined exceed that of Zhuge Liang.”

    More about the quote – 

    • Meaning / Equivalent quote: Two heads are better than one.
    • Elaboration: Zhuge Liang was a very famous military strategist in the Three Kingdoms period (220-280 AD). His work is often compared to that of Sun Tzu, who wrote The Art of War. We use this quote to promote teamwork.
    • Additional notes: Zhuge Liang is the hero in Romance of the Three Kingdoms, one of Chinese literature’s Four Great Classical Novels. It’s a great historical novel written in the fourteenth century—highly recommended!

    19. 賺錢靠機遇,成功靠信譽。

    Romanization: zaan6 cin2 kaau3 gei1 jyu6, sing4 gung1 kaau3 seon3 jyu6
    Literal Translation: “Earning money depends on luck; success depends on trust.”

    More about the quote – 

    • Meaning / Equivalent quote: “Honesty is the first chapter of the book Wisdom.” (Thomas Jefferson)
    • Elaboration: This is a famous quote from Hong Kong’s business tycoon Li Ka-Shing, one of the richest men in the world. We can use this quote to emphasize the importance of trust and reputation in achieving ultimate success.
    • Additional notes: As mentioned before, Li Ka-Shing is a magnificent businessman. He’s also very generous in sharing his tips to success!

    20. 當你放下面子賺錢的時候,說明你已經懂事了。當你用錢賺回面子的時候,說明你已經成功了。

    Romanization: dong1 nei5 fong3 haa6 min6 zi2 zaan6 cin2 dik1 si4 hau6, syut3 ming4 nei5 ji5 ging1 dung2 si6 liu5. dong1 nei5 jung6 cin2 zaan6 wui4 min6 zi2 dik1 si4 hau6, syut3 ming4 nei5 ji5 ging1 sing4 gung1 liu5 
    Literal Translation: “When you earn money by letting go of your Face (ego), you have become mature. When you earn your Face (ego) with money, you succeed.”

    More about the quote – 

    • Meaning / Equivalent quote: When ego is lost, limitations are lost.
    • Elaboration: Yet another quote from Hong Kong’s most successful businessman, Li Ka-Shing. We can use this quote to remind someone to let go of their ego.
    • Additional notes: Face,” or in Chinese 面 (min2), is a unique concept in Chinese society. This concept of cultural etiquette in Hong Kong describes one’s status, dignity, and integrity. “Face” can also be thought of as the feeling of being respected and honored by others. 

    See our vocabulary list of success quotes for even more inspiring words! 

    5. Bonus: Quotes About Language Learning

    Fancy diving deeper into Cantonese after learning these interesting and insightful quotes? Then let us share a few language learning quotes with you, too!

    Bonus Quote 1 –

    Chinese Character: 新語言就係新生命。
    Romanization: san1 jyu5 jin4 zau6 hai6 san1 sang1 ming6
    Meaning: A new language is a new life.

    Bonus Quote 2 –

    Chinese Character: 我嘅語言界限就係我個世界嘅界限。
    Romanization: ngo5 ge3 jyu5 jin4 gaai3 haan6 zau6 hai6 ngo5 go3 sai3 gaai3 ge3 gaai3 haan6
    Meaning: The limits of my language are the limits of my world.

    Bonus Quote 3 –

    Chinese Character: 識多一個語言,就擁有多一個靈魂。
    Romanization: sik1 do1 jat1 go3 jyu5 jin4, zau6 jung2 jau5 do1 jat1 go3 ling4 wan4
    Meaning: To have another language is to possess a second soul.

    And of course, we have a list of more language learning quotes for you to study. 

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

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    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 which of these quotes is your favorite, and why! We look forward to hearing from you.

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