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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

Improve Your Cantonese Conversation Skills in 2022

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Have you ever started a conversation only to blurt out a bunch of inarticulate words? Or have you asked a question, but when the other person answered, you couldn’t make anything out of it?

This guide will teach you how to improve your Cantonese conversation skills, not just general Cantonese-speaking skills but specifically how to deal with Cantonese conversations: It all starts with making your own unique conversation “language profile cheat sheet”, then identifying the words and sentences YOU need the most.

The Art of conversation is one you can’t learn from academic teaching and books. You need to learn about specific ‘oral’ tricks such as filler words, reaction phrases, or conversation starters. 

Once you’ve got it all lined up, there will be nothing stopping you from making new friends and starting conversations with fellow students, coworkers, or random strangers in Cantonese.

Four Friends Chatting with Coffee Drinks

Make new friends by polishing your Cantonese conversation skills!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Make Your Own Language Profile
  2. Learn Cantonese Reactions and Replies
  3. Learn Cantonese Filler Words
  4. Learn Common Cantonese Questions and Answers
  5. Learn Cantonese Conversation Starters
  6. Bonus: How to Improve Conversation Skills
  7. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Make Your Own Language Profile

1- What’s a language profile?

A language profile is your cheat sheet with all of the relevant phrases you need, based on who you are and what you’re interested in.

There is no one-size-fits-all ready-made cheat sheet that you’d find online, and you certainly won’t find one in this article. We’re talking about something personal that you will assemble based on your background, age, lifestyle, and interests.

2- Why would I need one?

We all introduce ourselves and talk about ourselves when meeting new people. There is a reason why writing a self-introduction is typically one of the first things you should do when you start learning a new language. 

But it doesn’t stop there! Being able to answer questions about your story, hobbies, and what motivates you to learn the language will go a long way in building relationships. 

Not only will it make the conversation smoother if you’re already prepared and know the vocabulary that’s relevant to what you have to say, but it will also make you more confident when meeting people: confident in your ability to answer personal questions.

3- How do I make one?

Every conversation cheat sheet is unique. If you’re 40 years old, with family and kids, working toward buying your house, and a lover of electronic music, your conversation cheat will be very different from a 20 years old photography student who loves traveling and watching horror movies.

You can start with writing your own self-introduction, then quickly write about your hobbies and interests. Here’s an example of what it could look like:

你好,我個名係米高。我二十七歲,嚟自香港。我係老師。我其中一個嗜好係睇書。
nei5 hou2, ngo5 go3 meng2 hai6 mai5 gou1. ngo5 ji6 sap6 cat1 seoi3, lei4 zi6 hoeng1 gong2. ngo5 hai6 lou5 si1. ngo5 kei4 zung1 jat1 go3 si3 hou3 hai6 tai2 syu1.
“Hello, my name is Michael. I’m 27 years old and I’m from Hong Kong. I’m a teacher. One of my hobbies is reading.

Then, you can elaborate on individual parts and imagine how you would answer specific questions by gathering phrases and words specifically tailored to your needs:

  • 我喺香港住咗兩年。 
    • Romanization: ngo5 hai2 hoeng1 gong2 zyu6 zo2 loeng5 nin4.
    • Meaning: “I’ve been living in Hong Kong for 2 years.”
  • 我鍾意食牛肉。
    • Romanization: ngo5 zung1 ji3 sik6 ngau4 juk6.
    • Meaning: “I like eating beef.”
  • 我學咗廣東話十年。 
    • Romanization: ngo5 hok6 zo2 gwong2 dung1 waa2 sap6 nin4.
    • Meaning: “I’ve been learning Cantonese for 10 years.”

4- Getting off to a good start

If you’re a beginner, this might look like a daunting task, but it’s not! There are plenty of resources you can use, depending on your level:

  1. Online translators are still carrying a bad reputation, but nowadays, they’re truly doing wonders. They can occasionally struggle with slang and idiomatic expressions, but for your first draft, they’ll do just fine. Google translate is the most popular option, but I’d personally recommend DeepL.

  2. Other online tools such as Reverso context can help you with idioms and expressions. They’re really not flawless but still a nice resource to tap into.

  3. CantoneseClass101 has tons of free content, blog articles, and vocabulary lists you can use. The lists are especially useful if you’re looking for a specific topic, as they’ll provide sentences and vocabulary that suit your specific needs. For example, if you want to know more about Hong Kong food, you can check this one out.

  4. A personal teacher is the ultimate weapon for learning fast and hard. Your teacher can guide you through the process of writing your conversation cheat sheet and fix any tiny mistakes. Be sure to check our private coaching service from our Premium PLUS offer.

2. Learn Cantonese Reactions and Replies

In this section, we’ll learn how you can react to a statement and express enthusiasm, annoyance, curiosity, or disbelief.

On your road to fluency, being able to express interesting and nuanced reactions rather than just saying yes or no is a great step that will add a lot of flavor to your conversations.

A Little Toddler Making the What Gesture

What?

Here are 8 common lower intermediate reaction phrases you can use for everyday conversations:

  • When someone wrongly accuses you of stealing his/her phone, you can say…

1- 你錯喇!

Romanization: nei5 co3 laa3!
Meaning: You’re wrong!
Literal translation: You wrong!

  • When someone does not believe his/her best friend is dating, you can say…

2- 係真㗎! 

Romanization: hai6 zan1 gaa3!
Meaning: That’s true!
Literal translation: Is true!

  • When someone enquires if your best friend is out of town that you haven’t heard of, you can say…

3- 我諗唔係。

Romanization: ngo5 lam2 m4 hai6.
Meaning: I don’t think so.
Literal translation: I think no.

  • When you are leaving a house party, you can say…

4- 今晚好開心。 

Romanization: gam1 maan5 hou2 hoi1 sam1.
Meaning: That was a great evening.
Literal translation: Tonight very happy.

  • When someone asks if your aloof roommate is heartbroken, you can say…

5- 我都唔肯定。 

Romanization: ngo5 dou1 m4 hang2 ding6.
Meaning: Well, I’m not sure.
Literal translation: I too not sure.

  • When someone praises a man you are highly approved of, you can say…

6- 係呀,你講得啱

Romanization: hai6 aa3, nei5 gong2 dak1 aam1.
Meaning: Yes, you’re right.
Literal translation: Yes, you speak right.

  • After an “all-you-can-eat” dinner at your favourite restaurant, you can say…

7- 好爽!

Romanization: hou2 song2!
Meaning: That’s great!
Literal translation: very cool!

  • After watching a captivating movie, you can say…

8- 正!

Romanization: zeng3!
Meaning: Awesome!
Literal translation: straight!

    ➜ Want to stay positive? Learn The Top 20 Words For Positive Emotions with CantoneseClass101’s positive emotion list!

3. Learn Cantonese Filler Words

Um… Hmm… Well…

Have you ever heard or used these words in a conversation? In linguistics, they’re called “filler words.” While they may seem meaningless, and while many associate them with uncertainty and nervousness, filler words can actually be useful. For example, they can help your speech sound more genuine and diplomatic and even help you jump into a conversation.

Woman Thinking about Something

1 – 即係 (zik1 hai6)

Function / Indication: “like” [used to add emphasis]

Example Dialogue

Person A:

  • Chinese: 唔知點解會搞成咁。
  • Romanization: m4 zi1 dim2 gaai2 wui5 gaau2 seng4 gam2.
  • Meaning: I don’t know why it will end this way.

Person B:

  • Chinese: 衰咗咪認囉,即係你又唔係第一次。
  • Romanization: seoi1 zo2 mai6 jing6 lo1, zik1 hai6 nei5 jau6 m4 hai6 dai6 jat1 ci3.
  • Meaning: You should just admit it if you’ve made a fool of yourself, like it’s not the first time.

2 – 誒 (e6)

Function / Indication: “oh” [indicates hesitation]

Example Dialogue

Person A:

  • Chinese: 邊個食咗我啲朱古力?
  • Romanization: bin1 go3 sik6 zo2 ngo5 di1 zyu1 gu1 lik1?
  • Meaning: Who ate my chocolate?

Person B:

  • Chinese: 誒,係我呀。
  • Romanization: e6, hai6 ngo5 aa3.
  • Meaning: Oh… it was me.

3 – 咁 (gam2)

Function / Indication: “if that’s the case,” “then” [indicates that you understood the other party; use it before replying or making suggestions based on what they’ve just said]

Example Dialogue

Person A:

  • Chinese: 我唔想食牛肉麵。
  • Romanization: ngo5 m4 soeng2 sik6 ngau4 juk6 min6.
  • Meaning: I don’t want beef noodles.

Person B:

  • Chinese: 咁一係我哋食雲吞
  • Romanization: gam2 jat1 hai6 ngo5 dei6 sik6 wan4 tan1?
  • Meaning: Then how about wonton?

4 – 咁呀 (gam2 aa4)

Function / Indication: indicates you’re thinking (the “aa4” sound is usually prolonged)

Example Dialogue

Person A:

  • Chinese: 我唔想食燒鵝
  • Romanization: ngo5 m4 soeng2 sik6 siu1 ngo2.
  • Meaning: I don’t want to get roast goose.

Person B:

  • Chinese: 咁呀,不如我哋食日本菜?
  • Romanization: gam2 aa4, bat1 jyu4 ngo5 dei6 sik6 jat6 bun2 coi3?
  • Meaning: Well…how about Japanese (cuisine) then?

5 – 其實呢 (kei4 sat6 ne1)

Function / Indication: “well”

Example Dialogue

Person A:

  • Chinese: 我使唔使再減肥?
  • Romanization: ngo5 sai2 m4 sai2 zoi3 gaam2 fei4?
  • Meaning: Do you think I need to lose more weight?

Person B:

  • Chinese: 其實呢唔使太誇張,唔係暴飲暴食我覺得無問題。
  • Romanization: kei4 sat6 ne1 m4 sai2 taai3 kwaa1 zoeng1, m4 hai6 bou6 jam2 bou6 sik6 ngo5 gok3 dak1 mou5 man6 tai4.
  • Meaning: Well, don’t exaggerate. I think you will be fine as long as you don’t eat like a horse.


4. Learn Common Cantonese Questions and Answers

Just imagine: You’re going out with a group of native Cantonese speakers. This is the perfect opportunity to make friends and practice your Cantonese in a real-life situation! But how do you break the ice? What should you say if you run out of topics or if your Cantonese isn’t solid enough to fuel the conversation?

The universal answer is: ask questions!

A Man Flirting with a Lady

1. What’s your name?

Q: 你叫咩名?

“What’s your name?” has to be the most common conversation starter of all. Make sure you keep it in your pocket list!

Romanization: nei5 giu3 me1 meng2

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
nei5 You
giu3 Call
me1 What
meng2Name

A: 我叫

The answer to this question is pretty straightforward. You either state your name directly or add the words 我叫before your name and make it “我叫.”

Romanization: ngo5 giu3 .

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
ngo5I
giu3 Call

See some examples of how to answer this question in Cantonese below!

Example 1
Chinese Characters: 我叫欣怡。
Meaning: My name is Yan-yee.
Romanization: ngo5 giu3 jan1 ji4

Example 2
Chinese Characters: 我叫俊傑。
Meaning: My name is Chun-kit.
Romanization: ngo5 giu3 zeon3 git6

Example 3
Chinese Characters: 我叫詠珊。
Meaning: My name is Wing-shan.
Romanization: ngo5 giu3 wing6 saan1

Example 4
Chinese Characters: 我叫偉文。
Meaning: My name is Wai-man.
Romanization: ngo5 giu3 wai5 man4

2. Where are you from?

Q: 你邊度嚟㗎?

This Cantonese question opens up a lot of possible conversation topics, such as cultural differences and must-see places, for you and your new Cantonese friends!

Romanization: nei5 bin1 dou6 lei4 gaa3

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
nei5 You
邊度bin1 dou6Where
lei4Come
gaa3a Cantonese question particle that indicates a question or doubt

A: 我嚟嘅。

There are two ways you can answer this question. The first is by answering directly with your city or country: 

  • 香港 (hoeng1 gong2) – “Hong Kong”

You may also add the word 我 before “Hong Kong” and 嚟嘅 after it: 我香港嚟嘅.

Romanization: ngo5 lei4 ge3

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
ngo5I
lei4To come
ge3a final particle that implies assertion with emphasis

Here are some examples:

Example 1
Chinese Characters: 我美國嚟嘅。
Meaning: I’m from the U.S.
Romanization: ngo5 mei5 gwok3 lei4 ge3

Example 2
Chinese Characters: 我英國嚟嘅。
Meaning: I’m from England.
Romanization: ngo5 jing1 gwok3 lei4 ge3

Example 3
Chinese Characters: 我中國嚟嘅。
Meaning: I’m from China.
Romanization: ngo5 zung1 gwok3 lei4 ge3

Example 4
Chinese Characters: 我德國嚟嘅。
Meaning: I’m from Germany.
Romanization: ngo5 dak1 gwok3 lei4 ge3


3. Do you speak Cantonese?

Q: 你識唔識講

This is one of those basic Cantonese questions that you may be asked when you meet new friends in Hong Kong!

Romanization: nei5 sik1 m4 sik1 gong2

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
nei5 You
識唔識sik1 m4 sik1To know or not
gong2Speak

Here’s an example:

Chinese Characters: 你識唔識講廣東話?
Meaning: Do you speak Cantonese?
Romanization: nei5 sik1 m4 sik1 gong2 gwong2 dung1 waa2

A: Varies

Depending on how well you know the language, you can answer with one of the below phrases!

AnswerRomanizationMeaning
識少少。sik1 siu2 siu2Yes, I speak a little.
識一啲。sik1 jat1 di1Yes, I speak some.
識啲啲。sik1 di1 di1Yes, I speak a little bit.
識好多。sik1 hou2 do1Yes, I speak quite a lot.

4. Have you been to [country/city]?

Q: 你有冇去過

Another great conversation starter. You can share your travel stories and learn more about your Cantonese friends’ adventures!

Romanization: nei5 jau5 mou5 heoi3 gwo3

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
nei5 You
有冇jau5 mou5 To have or to not have
去過heoi3 gwo3Have been

Here’s an example:

Chinese Characters: 你有冇去過香港?
Meaning: Have you been to Hong Kong?
Romanization: nei5 jau5 mou5 heoi3 gwo3 hoeng1 gong2

A: Varies

AnswerRomanizationMeaning
有呀,去過兩次。jau5 aa3, heoi3 gwo3 loeng5 ci3Yes, I’ve been twice.
有呀,去過四次。jau5 aa3, heoi3 gwo3 sei3 ci3Yes, I’ve been four times.
有呀,去過一次。jau5 aa3, heoi3 gwo3 jat1 ci3Yes, I’ve been once.
冇呀。mou5 aa3No. (I have never been.)

5. How are you?

Q: 你好嗎?

This is one of the most useful Cantonese questions to know, especially once you’ve made some good friends and want to inquire about their well-being.

Romanization: nei5 hou2 maa3

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
nei5 You
hou2Good
maa3a Cantonese question particle

A: Varies 

AnswerRomanizationMeaning
我幾好。ngo5 gei2 hou2I’m fine.
我好好。ngo5 hou2 hou2I’m great.
我非常好。ngo5 fei1 soeng4 hou2I’m very good.
我唔係幾好。ngo5 m4 hai6 gei2 hou2I’m not so well.


6. What are you doing?

Q: 你做緊咩?

Are you curious about what your new bestie is up to? Ask them in Cantonese! 

Romanization: nei5 zou6 gan2 me1

Breakdown:

Character RomanizationMeaning
nei5 You
做緊zou6 gan2 Doing
me1What

A: Varies 

AnswerRomanizationMeaning
我諗緊嘢。ngo5 nam2 gan2 je5I’m thinking.
我食緊嘢。ngo5 sik6 gan2 je5I’m eating.
我做緊嘢。ngo5 zou6 gan2 je5I’m working.
我畫緊嘢。ngo5 waak6 gan2 je5I’m drawing.


5. Learn Cantonese Conversation Starters

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

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

A Car Salesman Shaking Hands with a Woman

Meeting someone new can be exciting!

1- 你識唔識講英文*?

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

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

2- 我唔識講英文*。

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

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

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

3 – 天氣點呀?

Romanization: tin1 hei3 dim2 aa3?
Meaning: How’s the weather?
Breakdown:

  • 天氣 (tin1 hei3) = “weather”
  • (dim2) = “how”
  • (aa3) is a question particle.

4 – 我覺得好*。

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

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

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

5- 你做咩架?

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

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

6- 我係老師*。

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

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

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

6. Bonus: How to Improve Conversation Skills

1- Learn the romanization system.

Pronunciation might be hard, but with the romanization system, you’ll be able to learn the correct pronunciation of a word. This way, you don’t have to keep guessing and going over your vocabulary nonstop! 

Literacy in Cantonese requires the memorization of thousands of components and characters, which can be quite daunting for new Cantonese learners. To start learning the sounds of Cantonese without the baggage of characters, Cantonese jyutping (also referred to as Cantonese romanization) comes in. This is essentially a way to help translate Cantonese pronunciation into English pronunciation.

2-  Focus on speaking.

Many Cantonese beginners find it tempting to learn both reading and writing at the same time. But we believe that it may be better to start learning how to speak before you get into reading and writing at all! This will keep you from using up all of your mental energy and getting burned out at the beginning of your studies and provide a more solid base for your language studies.

As mentioned earlier, there are thousands of Cantonese characters, and they were created based on abstract ideas. It takes a long time to gradually memorize and become familiar with all of them. Instead, focus on speaking first. Master it. This will also give you a chance to practice speaking with locals! 

3- Practice makes perfect.

The truth is that the only way you’re going to get a standard accent, well-ordered sentences, and a better understanding of tones is by speaking. So just get out there and practice! Even if you make a mistake, Cantonese people can usually guess what you’re saying, especially when there’s context. And if they can’t understand, there’s always charades. 

4- Immersion.

Immersion is truly the best way to learn a language, whether it’s deep immersion like living/working/studying in the local country or soft immersion like watching Netflix/TV/movies in your target language. Immersion is helpful because it’s much more authentic, and you can observe how the language is being used in different scenarios—the underlying rules of the language. Over time, you’ll also know much more about the language and culture. If you’re engaging in deep immersion, you can make local friends too!

5- Get some feedback.

Practicing is one thing, but getting valuable feedback is even better. Without feedback, we always run the risk of getting stuck in our mistakes and never being able to spot and correct them.

Finding a language partner (online or in person) is one way to go. If your partner is interested in your native language, you’ll both benefit from the relationship, and it could quickly flourish into a lasting friendship. 

Language coaches are also very effective, as a private teacher will be able to set you on the right path, guide you toward fluency and correct your grammar mistakes or your pronunciation. You can likely find a private teacher or classroom-based sessions in your area or subscribe to an online service such as our Premium PLUS coaching on CantoneseClass101.

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

After reading the above, do you want to put more Cantonese words and phrases into your pockets so that you can manage the conversation well with expressive words?

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

Basic Cantonese Conversation Starters

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

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

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

Four Friends Chatting with Coffee Beverages

Make new friends with a nice Cantonese conversation starter!

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

1. Conversation Starters for Mingling and Socializing 

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

A- Language and Nationalities

Cantonese Language

1- 你識唔識講英文*?

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

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

2- 我唔識講英文*

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

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

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

3 – 你係邊度嚟㗎?

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

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

4 – 我係美國*人。

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

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

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

B- Weather

The Sun Shining in a Blue Sky

It’s hot out there!

5 – 我覺得好熱*

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

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

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

6 – 天氣點呀?

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

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

7 – 我覺得今日好潮濕 。

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

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

8- 今日太曬喇 。

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

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

9- 今日幾多度呀?

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

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

C- Work, Study, and Family

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

Get to know the person!

10- 你做咩架?

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

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

11- 我係老師*

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

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

12- 我係學生*

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

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

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

13- 我主修數學

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

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

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

14- 你有冇兄弟姊妹呀?

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

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

15- 我妹妹去咗英國留學。

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

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

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

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

Food and Travel

A Woman Taking Pictures While Vacationing in France

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

16- 你食咗飯未呀?

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

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

17- 食咗喇。

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

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

18- 你鍾唔鍾意食廣東菜?

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

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

19- 鍾意,尤其係春卷。

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

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

20- 你有冇去過海洋公園*

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

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

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

21- 有呀,去過四次。

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

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

3. Conversation Starters for a First Date

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

Likes and Dislikes

 Likes!

22- 你鍾唔鍾意朱古力?

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

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

23- 你鍾唔鍾意呢度?

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

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

24- 鍾意呀!

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

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

25- 我唔鍾意。

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

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

26- 我唔鍾意等人。

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

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

27- 我憎呢個。

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

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

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

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

Greetings and Whereabouts

A Woman Waving Hello to Someone from a Distance

Basic greetings!

28- 好耐冇見。

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

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

29- 你最近點呀?

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

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

30- 我幾好,多謝。

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

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

31- 麻麻哋。

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

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

32- 你做緊咩呀?

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

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

33- 我溫緊書。

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

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

34- 冇乜特別嘢。

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

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

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

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

With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want through mobile apps, desktop software, and our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture.

Until now, we’ve delivered more than 750,000,000 lessons to thousands of happy students from all around the globe. You can learn Cantonese with over 1060 audio and video lessons delivered by our knowledgeable and energetic hosts, detailed PDF lesson notes, pronunciation guide Cantonese, an abundance of vocabulary learning tools, spaced repetition flashcards, and a lively community to discuss the lessons with fellow learners. What are you waiting for? Download our lessons, enjoy our audio and video files, and start learning now!

And keep in mind that if you prefer a one-on-one learning approach and want to further accelerate your Cantonese learning, you can take advantage of our MyTeacher program!

Know that your hard work will pay off, and before you know it, you’ll be speaking Cantonese like a native!

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

Cantonese Phrases for Advanced Learners

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

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

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

A Woman Taking Notes in a Study Book

Learn all the advanced phrases you need!

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

1. Useful Phrases for Academics

A Female Graduate Holding a Diploma and Smiling

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

Academic Writing

1 – 參考書目如下。

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

2 – 文章冇列明任何來源。

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

3 – 引文格式

Romanization: jan5 man4 gaak3 sik1
Meaning: Citation format


Discussions

1 – 大家有咩意見或者諗法?

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

2 – 講一個你成功處理工作困難嘅例子。

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


2. Power Phrases for Resumes and Interviews

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

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

1 – Talking about your university

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

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

2 – Talking about your major

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

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

3 – Talking about your current job

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

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

4 – Talking about your work experience

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

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

5 – Talking about your desire to make the move

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

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

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

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

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


3. Smart Phrases for Business and Meetings

Business Diagram

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

1 – Giving suggestions

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

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

2 – Commenting on a suggestion

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

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

3 – Expressing your opinion

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

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

4 – Showing your agreement

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

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

5 – Showing your disagreement

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

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

6 – Providing feedback on a suggestion

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

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

7 – Thanking someone for his/her support

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

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

8 – Asking for a meeting

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

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

9 – Asking if there’s anything else

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

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

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

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

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

11 – Inquiring about another person’s team at work

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

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

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

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

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

13 – Telling a coworker where you’re headed

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

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

14 – Letting your coworker know that you’re leaving

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

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


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

A Notebook, Pencil, and Blue Plastic Letters

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

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

Life Event Messages

1 – Birthday wishes

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

2 – New Year wishes

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

3 – Graduation

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

4 – New job/promotion

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

5 – Wedding

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


Compliments

1 – 你笑得好靚。

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

2 – 你嘅表現超乎我預期。

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

3 – 你影相影得好靚。

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

4 – 你好有品味。

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

5 – 你係一個好出色嘅廚師。

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


Idioms and Proverbs

1 – 豬乸會上樹

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

2 – 掛羊頭賣狗肉

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

3 – 大石砸死蟹。

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

4 – 牛唔飲水唔撳得牛頭低。

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

5 – 老貓燒鬚。

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

6 – 拉牛上樹

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

7 – 騎牛搵馬

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

8 – 扯貓尾

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

9 – 捉到鹿唔識脫角

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

10 – 豬籠入水

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

11 – 食碗面反碗底

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

12 – 禾稈冚珍珠

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

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

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

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

With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through mobile apps, desktop software, and our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture.

Until now, we’ve delivered more than 750,000,000 lessons to thousands of happy students from all around the globe. You can learn Cantonese with over 1060 audio and video lessons delivered by our knowledgeable and energetic hosts, detailed PDF lesson notes, an abundance of vocabulary learning tools, spaced repetition flashcards, and a lively community where you can discuss the lessons with fellow learners. What are you waiting for? Download our lessons, enjoy our audio and video files, and start learning now!

And keep in mind that if you prefer a 1-on-1 learning approach and want to further accelerate your Cantonese learning, you can take advantage of our MyTeacher program!

Know that your hard work will pay off, and before you know it, you’ll be speaking Cantonese like a native!

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

Cantonese Phrases for Intermediate Learners

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Are you having trouble jumping the gap from beginner Cantonese to an intermediate level? It can feel daunting to leave the comfort of simple sentence structures and common words, and even more so to start treading the uncharted grounds of complex ideas and subtle feelings. But once you’ve made the initial move toward learning intermediate Cantonese, you’ll find a lot of satisfaction in honing your skills on the more challenging aspects of the language. 

In this article, you’ll find 30+ intermediate Cantonese phrases covering different aspects of life, from making recommendations to putting your best foot forward in business or social settings. 

What are you waiting for? Let’s dive in!

A Group of Runners on a Running Track

Let’s get going!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Talking About Past Events
  2. Making and Changing Plans
  3. Explaining and Listing Reasons
  4. Recommendations and Complaints
  5. Reaction Phrases for Everyday Conversations
  6. Etiquette Phrases for Social and Business Settings
  7. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Talking About Past Events

Cantonese is considered a tenseless language. In contrast to European languages like English or French, it has neither conjugation nor the concept of tense. We don’t modify verbs to express when an action took place; instead, we use additional words to serve this function when necessary. That said, we can usually tell from the context whether an event happened in the past, present, or future.


A Woman Throwing a Bowling Ball

I had fun last night!

Here are five intermediate phrases in Cantonese you can use when talking about past events: 

1 – 你去咗邊呀?

Romanization: nei5 heoi3 zo2 bin1 aa3?
Meaning: Where did you go?
Literal translation: You went where?

2 – 你尋日做咩?

Romanization: nei5 cam4 jat6 zou6 me1?
Meaning: What did you do yesterday?
Literal translation: You yesterday do what?

3 – 佢哋頭先走咗。

Romanization: keoi5 dei6 tau4 sin1 zau2 zo2. 
Meaning: They just left.

4 – 尋日我去公園。

Romanization: cam4 jat6 ngo5 heoi3 gung1 jyun2.
Meaning: Yesterday I went to the park.
Literal translation: Yesterday I went the park.

5 – 頭先同班兄弟踢波。

Romanization: tau4 sin1 tung4 baan1 hing1 dai6 tek3 bo1.
Meaning: I was playing soccer with my friends just now.
Literal translation: Just now with my friends playing soccer.

2. Making and Changing Plans

Now that you have a better grasp on talking about the past, let’s jump back to the future.

Usually, mentioning the date of an event is enough for the other person to understand you’re talking about the future. Sometimes, you don’t even need to mention the date—people will gather that it’s a future event from the context.

Making Plans

Here are six basic Cantonese phrases for making and changing plans: 

1 – 我打畀你。 

Romanization: ngo5 daa2 bei2 nei5.
Meaning: I’ll call you.
Literal translation: I call you.

2 – 我哋聽日幾點見? 

Romanization: ngo5 dei6 ting1 jat6 gei2 dim2 gin3?
Meaning: What time shall we meet tomorrow?
Literal translation: We tomorrow when meet?

3 – 你鍾唔鍾意呢度? 

Romanization: nei5 zung1 m4 zung1 ji3 ni1 dou6?
Meaning: What do you think of this place?
Literal translation: You like or not like this place?

4 – 不如我哋去第二度? 

Romanization: bat1 jyu4 ngo5 dei6 heoi3 dai6 ji6 dou6?
Meaning: Shall we go somewhere else?
Literal translation: How about we go elsewhere?

5 – 我哋一齊去玩好嗎? 

Romanization: ngo5 dei6 jat1 cai4 heoi3 waan2 hou2 maa3?
Meaning: Would you like to hang out with me?
Literal translation: We together play good?

6 – 你今個禮拜尾得唔得閒? 

Romanization: nei5 gam1 go3 lai5 baai1 mei5 dak1 m4 dak1 haan4?
Meaning: Are you free this weekend?
Literal translation: You this weekend free or not free?

3. Explaining and Listing Reasons

Stating facts or describing things that you’ve done is a great start. But your conversations will get much more interesting once you’re able to explain the reasoning behind your actions and understand people’s motivations. This could be as simple as saying that you don’t want dessert because you’re full, or as complex as elaborating on your tastes in music or movies.

Describing your reasons is quite straightforward in Cantonese. You’ll just need to know a few key words and structures before you can talk about causes and consequences. These words are:

  • 因為 (jan1 wai6) – because
  • 唔怪得之 (m4 gwaai3 dak1 zi1) – no wonder
  • 由於 (jau4 jyu1) – due to

Looking for more connecting words like these? Check out our complete guide to Cantonese conjunctions and connecting words!

Here are six intermediate Cantonese phrases for explaining and listing reasons:

1 – 我因為結婚要買樓。 

Romanization: ngo5 jan1 wai6 git3 fan1 jiu3 maai5 lau2.
Meaning: I need to buy a flat because I am getting married.
Literal translation: I because marriage need buy flat.

2 – 你着咁少衫,唔怪得之會感冒。 

Romanization: nei5 zoek3 gam3 siu2 saam1, m4 gwaai3 dak1 zi1 wui2 gam2 mou6.
Meaning: You’re wearing so little. No wonder you’ve got a cold.
Literal translation: You wear so little, no wonder you got cold.

3 – 我鍾意端午節,因為可以食糭。

Romanization: ngo5 zung1 ji3 dyun1 ng5 zit3, jan1 wai6 ho2 ji3 sik6 zung2.
Meaning: I like the Dragon Boat Festival because I can eat rice dumplings.
Literal translation: I like dragon boat festivals, because I can eat rice dumplings.

4 – 你亂咁食嘢,唔怪得之會肚痛啦。

Romanization: nei5 lyun2 gam3 sik6 je5, m4 gwaai3 dak1 zi1 wui2 tou5 tung3 laa3.
Meaning: You’re eating so irregularly. No wonder you’ve got a stomachache.
Literal translation: You random eat, no wonder you got stomachache.

5 – 由於特殊嘅原因,飛機將會馬上掉頭。

Romanization: jau4 jyu1 dak6 syu4 ge3 jyun4 jan1, fei1 gei1 zoeng1 wui5 maa5 soeng6 diu6 tau4.
Meaning: For exceptional reasons, the plane will fly back to the departure airport shortly.
Literal translation: Because of exceptional reasons, the plane will immediately turn around.

6 – 好多鹿都因為佢哋嘅鹿角而俾人獵殺。

Romanization: hou2 do1 luk2 dou1 jan1 wai6 keoi5 dei6 ge3 luk2 gok3 ji4 bei2 jan4 lip6 saat3.
Meaning: Many species of deer are hunted for their antlers.
Literal translation: Many deers because of their antlers then get hunted.

4. Recommendations and Complaints

Sharing our opinions and insights helps us create bonds and allows us to learn from each other’s experiences. Whether you want to make a complaint at a shop or ask for restaurant recommendations from your friends, you’ll find some of the most useful phrases below.


A Couple Ordering Food at a Nice Restaurant

Which one should I choose?

1 – Office好熱。 

Romanization: office hou2 jit6.
Meaning: The office is hot.
Literal translation: Office very hot.

2 – 呢度有撻漬。 

Romanization: ni1 dou6 jau5 daat3 zik1. 
Meaning: There is a stain here.
Literal translation: Here have stain.

3 – 邊間餐廳好呀?

Romanization: bin1 gaan1 caan1 teng1 hou2 aa1?
Meaning: Which restaurant is good?
Literal translation: Which restaurant good?

4 – 電視有咩好睇?

Romanization: din6 si6 jau5 me1 hou2 tai2?
Meaning: What’s good on TV?
Literal translation: TV have what good watch?

5 – 呢度至好食係乜?

Romanization: ni1 dou6 zi3 hou2 sik6 hai6 mat1?
Meaning: What is the best food here?
Literal translation: Here best food what?

6 – 我啱啱收到啲貨,但係同我買嘅嘢唔同嘅。

Romanization: ngo5 aam1 aam1 sau1 dou2 di1 fo3, daan6 hai6 tung4 ngo5 maai5 ge3 je5 m4 tung4 ge2.
Meaning: I just had my shopping delivered, but this is not what I ordered.
Literal translation: I just received goods, but with my purchased goods not same.

5. Reaction Phrases for Everyday Conversations

Let’s change the tempo with some examples of conversational phrases. In this section, you’ll learn how to react to statements with different emotions. On your road to fluency, learning to express interesting and nuanced reactions (rather than just saying “yes” or “no”) is a great step forward that will add a lot of flavor to your conversations.

A Little Girl Holding Her Arms Up in the What? Gesture

What?

1 – 你錯喇!

Romanization: nei5 co3 laa3!
Meaning: You’re wrong!
Literal translation: You wrong!

2 – 係真㗎! 

Romanization: hai6 zan1 gaa3!
Meaning: That’s true!
Literal translation: Is true!

3 – 我諗唔係。

Romanization: ngo5 lam2 m4 hai6.
Meaning: I don’t think so.
Literal translation: I think no.

4 – 今晚好開心。 

Romanization: gam1 maan1 hou2 hoi1 sam1.
Meaning: That was a great evening.
Literal translation: Tonight very happy.

5 – 我都唔肯定。 

Romanization: ngo5 dou1 m4 hang2 ding6.
Meaning: Well, I’m not sure.
Literal translation: I too not sure.

6 – 係呀,你講得啱。

Romanization: hai6 aa3, nei5 gong2 dak1 aam1.
Meaning: Yes, you’re right.
Literal translation: Yes, you speak right.

6. Etiquette Phrases for Social and Business Settings

Manners Maketh Man. 

Courtesy is the lubricant that makes society run smoothly. It helps ease the friction between people of different backgrounds and acts as a framework for peaceful social interactions. Below, you’ll find a few intermediate Cantonese phrases that will help you be polite and courteous in a variety of situations.


A Car Salesman Shaking Hands with a Woman and Smiling

Make a good impression.

1 – 慢慢食。

Romanization: maan6 maan2 sik6.
Meaning: Courtesy phrase used at the beginning of a meal
Literal translation: Slow slow eat.

2 – 一路順風。

Romanization: jat1 lou6 seon6 fung1.
Meaning: Bon voyage.
Literal translation: All the way smooth.

3 – 旅途愉快。

Romanization: leoi5 tou4 jyu6 faai3.
Meaning: Happy journey.
Literal translation: Journey happy.

4 – 唔使拘謹。 

Romanization: m4 sai2 keoi1 gan2.
Meaning: Please make yourself at home.
Literal translation: No need prudish.

5 – 我車你返屋企。  

Romanization: ngo5 ce1 nei5 faan1 uk1 kei5.
Meaning: I will drive you home.
Literal translation: I drive you back home.

6 – 我期待聽日嘅來臨。

Romanization: ngo5 kei4 doi6 ting1 jat6 ge3 loi4 lam4.
Meaning: I look forward to tomorrow.
Literal translation: I look forward tomorrow coming.

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

We hope you enjoyed this article and learned some practical phrases that you’ll be able to start using right away. Let us know in the comments if we missed any essential Cantonese phrases for the intermediate level, or if there’s a situation we didn’t cover. We’d be glad to help! 

Can’t wait to continue your Cantonese journey after mastering the intermediate phrases? We know that learning a new language can be tiresome or even lonely, but with the right tools, you can master Cantonese without all the struggling. 

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 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

Level Up Your Cantonese with Cantonese Podcasts

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Do you know the average amount of time people in Hong Kong spend commuting on public transport each weekday? 73 minutes! Not to mention how crowded public transport is here during peak hours—you can barely use your phone. Imagine all those hours wasted on the commute if you didn’t engage in anything productive or fun!

Metro

What if I told you that you could actually use those hours to efficiently practice your Cantonese with hardly any effort? 

By listening to Cantonese podcasts, you can expand your knowledge of the language without going through the tedious grind of flashcards and grammar exercises. This is not a life hack. In fact, it’s the same thing that happens whenever you watch movies or series in your target language! If you find something interesting enough, you’ll start tuning in on a regular basis and eventually become absorbed in it—and having fun through natural exposure like this is the best way to learn anything. 

In this article, we’ll talk about how you can learn Cantonese by regularly listening to podcasts. We’ll also introduce you to the best Cantonese podcasts for learning new words, picking up idioms, solidifying your knowledge of grammar structures, and more. 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Why learn Cantonese from podcasts?
  2. Recommended Cantonese Podcasts for Beginners
  3. Recommended Cantonese Podcasts for Intermediate Students
  4. Recommended Cantonese Podcasts for Advanced Students
  5. How to Make the Most out of Cantonese Podcasts
  6. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Why learn Cantonese from podcasts?

A Woman Listening to a Podcast

The best way to learn Cantonese is to fully immerse yourself: travel to Hong Kong and forbid yourself from speaking any other language until it becomes second nature. I’m sure you’ve heard that before, right?

This is good advice, for sure, but what if it’s not an option? Maybe you need to reach a specific level before your trip to Hong Kong in order to pass an exam or land a job. In any case, when full immersion is not on the table, it leaves you with a few other options. 

Taking classes, learning grammar from textbooks, and going through the usual tedium of vocabulary lists and “fill in the blank” exercises have proven to be reasonable approaches. But in this day and age, why not take advantage of everything the internet has to offer? Streaming, YouTube videos, vlogs, online radio, and, of course, podcasts.

1 – The Benefits of Passive Learning

Practice makes perfect, and the more exposure you get, the better. 

On top of whatever method or academic program you’re following, the simple habit of listening to Cantonese every day in your car, on the bus, or while doing the dishes will foster a slew of benefits: 

  • Improving your listening skills
  • Reinforcing your pronunciation, especially early on
  • Consolidating your grammar as you hear the structures in context
  • Enriching your vocabulary on the topics of your choice
  • Learning something new (in addition to Cantonese), depending on your podcast of choice

2 – Different Levels, Different Perks

As a beginner, listening to Cantonese podcasts early on will give you a good sense of how the language sounds and allow you to tackle the pronunciation as early as possible. Fixing pronunciation mistakes further down the line would be significantly more difficult.

Intermediate learners always experience the effect of diminishing returns. Simply put, it takes more work to achieve the same level of progress than it did when you had just started. Through consistent exposure, you’ll expand your grammar knowledge, learn new vocabulary, and get more comfortable with Cantonese—all without putting too much pressure on yourself.

Advanced students may benefit the most from podcasts, especially when they’re getting fluent enough to choose from the massive amount of content for native speakers. Suddenly, you’ll be able to listen to hundreds of podcasts on any topic imaginable and keep making progress along the way.

2. Recommended Cantonese Podcasts for Beginners

The Blocks ABC Resting on the Edges of Books to Resemble Steps

As easy as ABC!

1 – Cantonese for Travel and Beginners – Real Life Language

This podcast covers the basic vocabulary words and phrases you might need when traveling. The series covers everything from talking about drinks to letting someone know your luggage is lost. If you’re just thinking about putting some Cantonese words in your pocket for a trip to Hong Kong or another Cantonese-speaking region, this podcast may be extremely helpful!

2 – CantoneseClass101*

CantoneseClass101 offers a range of podcasts covering all learning levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Beginners will start with podcasts that are very basic, and they can work their way up through the materials at their own pace. Even if you’re just looking to acquire a little vocabulary for a business or leisure trip, you’ll find suitable podcast episodes here!

*While this site is helpful for beginners, there are lessons tailored for intermediate and advanced students as well.

3. Recommended Cantonese Podcasts for Intermediate Students

Several English Words Typed on Small Pieces of Paper

From ABC to words, and beyond…

1 – RTHK: Naked Cantonese

This is a very fun Cantonese podcast hosted by Cecilia Gamst Berg (a Norwegian Cantonese teacher) and Sarah Passmore (a producer for RTHK). There are more than 200 lessons covering everything from beer to rugby. It’s a pity that the program ended in 2011, but the content is still valid and enjoyable!

2 – Learn Cantonese Daily

Learn Cantonese Daily is a weekly podcast that helps you build your Cantonese vocabulary. It covers a wide range of topics, from art-related expressions in Cantonese to the difference between 返 (faan1), 翻 (faan1), and 番 (faan1). The content is more well-suited to intermediate learners who already know a bit of Cantonese and want to polish their language skills further.

4. Recommended Cantonese Podcasts for Advanced Students

Newspapers

1 – SBS Cantonese – SBS廣東話節目

The SBS Cantonese podcast is produced by the Special Broadcasting Service, and it covers worldwide news and political insight in Cantonese. As worldwide news is easily accessible in almost all languages, this is a nice way to learn Cantonese since you can also listen to the news in your native tongue to compare. 

2 – RTHK: Podcast One

Would you like to find Cantonese podcasts produced by native Cantonese speakers that center around your interests? RTHK: Podcast One is the place to go! It features a wide range of podcasts in Cantonese, covering topics ranging from culture and drama to finance and the latest Hong Kong local news. These podcasts are all prepared by RTHK, the public broadcasting service in Hong Kong. 

5. How to Make the Most out of Cantonese Podcasts

Study Hard

1 – Pick a podcast for your level.

What might sound really obvious can also be challenging when you’re somewhere between levels. I would recommend starting with something on the easier side so you don’t get discouraged. Then, if you feel like you’re ready for more, you can always move on to some more challenging content later.

2 – Select the right topic for you.

The best podcasts for learning Cantonese are those that will fascinate and engage you! Especially if you’re at an advanced level and have the luxury of choice, I strongly believe you should choose your listening material based on the topic over any other consideration. While it may take some trial and error to figure it out, listening to something you’re passionate about will keep you invested and coming back for more.

3 – Listen to several podcasts and place value on diversity.

You don’t have to find the perfect program from Day One; in fact, keeping your options open is often the smart choice. This is also a good way to expose yourself to more than one voice and accent.

4 – Practice makes perfect.

On beginner podcasts, you’ll often find some listen & repeat exercises—and I’d encourage you to take them seriously. Especially if you’re at home or in the comfort of your car, you can go wild and repeat as much as you want. This is the best possible way to practice your pronunciation.

5 – Daily exposure is key.

If you can find the time for a daily podcast session by setting up a routine, this consistency will take you a long way. Commuting time is a popular option, but any downtime can be transformed into progress, as long as your ears and brain are fully available (don’t multitask too much!).

6 – Don’t forget to mix it up.

Although it might be possible to learn solely through passive learning, you’ll achieve the best results by mixing things up. I’d recommend using podcasts as a complementary activity, accompanied by some classic grammar and vocabulary work.

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

We know that learning a new language can be tiresome or even lonely, but with the right tools, you can master the Cantonese language without all the struggling. 

With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have you+r 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 for discussing 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

Cantonese Phrases for Beginners

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Do you find Cantonese intimidating? Sure, the nine Cantonese tones can be challenging at first, and the Chinese characters are a bit complicated. But there are various ways you can conquer these hurdles. One is to practice using and recognizing the most common Cantonese phrases for beginners right from the start. 

In this article, you’ll find 40+ phrases every Cantonese beginner must know. This includes everything from simple greetings to useful phrases for other common situations, such as shopping, eating out, asking for help, and getting directions.

The Letters ABC Sitting Atop a Notebook that Has Writing in It

Learn Cantonese with these beginner phrases!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Greetings and Self-introductions
  2. Courtesy Phrases & Social Expressions
  3. Dining & Shopping Phrases
  4. Asking for Help
  5. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Greetings and Self-introductions

When one starts learning a foreign language, the first set of beginner phrases they usually learn consists of basic greetings and self-introductions. Until you get more experienced, your conversations might not get much further than simple salutations.

    → 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?

A Woman Waving

We have listed the top ten Cantonese greetings and self-introduction phrases below:

1 – 哈囉。

Romanization: haa1 lo3.
Meaning: Hello. (informal, for speech)

2 – 你好。

Romanization: nei5 hou2.
Meaning: Hello. (formal, for both speech and writing)
Literal translation: You good.

3 – 你好嗎?

Romanization: nei5 hou2 maa3?
Meaning: How are you? (formal, for both speech and writing)

4 – 早晨。

Romanization: zou2 san4.
Meaning: Good morning. (formal, for both speech and writing)

5 – 午安。

Romanization: ng5 on1.
Meaning: Good afternoon. (formal, for both speech and writing)
Literal translation: Noon safe.

6 – 晚安。

Romanization: maan5 on1.
Meaning: Good evening (formal, for both speech and writing)
Literal translation: Night safe.

7 – 喂。

Romanization: wai2.
Meaning: Yo. / Hello. (informal, for phone calls only)

8 – 我叫____。

Romanization: ngo5 giu3____. 
Meaning: My name is ____.
Literal translation: I called ____.

9 – 你叫咩名? 

Romanization: nei5 giu3 me1 meng2?
Meaning: What is your name?
Literal translation: You called what name?

10 – 我係美國人。

Romanization: ngo5 hai6 mei5 gwok3 jan4.
Meaning: I am American.
Note: You may replace “美國” with your own country. Here are some examples:

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

2. Courtesy Phrases & Social Expressions

Manners Maketh Man. 

Courtesy is the lubricant that makes society run smoothly. It helps ease the friction between people with different backgrounds and acts as a framework for peaceful social interactions.

    → A simple “sorry” might not be enough if you’ve really messed up, but you’ll find everything you need for a meaningful apology in our extensive guide on how to say sorry in Cantonese.

Handshake

Here are ten simple phrases in Cantonese that will help you be polite and courteous in your daily interactions:

1 – 唔該。

Romanization: m4 goi1.
Meaning: Thank you. (When someone offers to help you)

2 – 多謝。

Romanization: do1 ze6.
Meaning: Thank you. (When someone presents a gift)
Literal translation: Many thanks.

3 – 唔使客氣。

Romanization: m4 sai2 haak3 hei3.
Meaning: You’re welcome.
Literal translation: No need (to be) courteous.

4 – 對唔住。

Romanization: deoi3 m4 zyu6.
Meaning: Sorry.

5 – 唔好意思。

Romanization: m4 ho2 ji3 si3.
Meaning: Excuse me. / Sorry.

6 – 好。

Romanization: hou2.
Meaning: Good. / Fine. / Yes. / Alright.

7 – 再見。

Romanization: zoi3 gin3.
Meaning: Bye.

8 – 遲啲見。

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

9 – 保重。

Romanization: bou2 zung6.
Meaning: Take care.

10 – 唔緊要。

Romanization: m4 gan2 jiu3.
Meaning: No worries. / Never mind.
Literal translation: Not important.

3. Dining & Shopping Phrases

As you travel through Hong Kong, you’ll soon enough surrender to the temptation of the many shops, markets, restaurants, food stalls, and bakeries. Ordering from unsuspecting clerks with limited English skills will give you the perfect opportunity to practice your Cantonese.

    → If you’re going to the market, make sure you synchronize your grocery list and your flashcards! Let’s start with a list of fruits and vegetables with example sentences and recordings.

Dim sum

Below, you’ll find several Cantonese beginner phrases to use as you dine and shop in Hong Kong. 

1 – 幾多錢呀?

Romanization: gei2 do1 cin2 aa3?
Meaning: How much is this?

2 – 你哋有冇糯米雞?

Romanization: nei5 dei2 jau5 mou5 lo6 mai5 gai1?
Meaning: Do you have any lo mai gai (steamed glutinous rice with chicken)?
Note: You may replace “糯米雞” with the name of whatever thing you want to inquire about. For example:


3 – 我想要點心。

Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 jiu3 dim2 sam1.
Meaning: I want dim sum.
Note: You may replace “點心” with the name of the dish or item you want to order. For example:

  • Dumplings: 餃子 (gaau2 zi2)
  • Mooncake: 月餅 (jyut6 beng2)
  • Egg roll: 蛋卷 (daan6 gyun2)
  • Peking duck: 北京烤鴨 (bak1 ging1 haau1 aap2)
  • Ball pen: 原子筆 (jyun4 zi2 bat1)
  • Coffee beans: 咖啡豆 (gaa3 fe1 dau2)
  • Fruit: 水果 (seoi2 gwo2)
  • Salt: 鹽 (jim4)

4 – 太貴喇。

Romanization: taai3 gwai3 laa3.
Meaning: It’s too expensive.

5 – 我俾唔起。

Romanization: ngo5 bei2 m4 hei2.
Meaning: I can’t afford it.

6 – 我可唔可以退貨?

Romanization: ngo5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 teoi3 fo3?
Meaning: Can I return the goods? / Can I get a refund?

7 – 我可唔可以退款?

Romanization: ngo5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 teoi3 fun2?
Meaning: Can I get a refund?

8 – 可唔可以俾個袋我呀? 

Romanization: ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 bei2 go3 doi2 ngo5 aa3?
Meaning: Can I have a bag?

9 – 你找錯錢。

Romanization: nei5 zaau2 co3 cin2.
Meaning: You gave me the wrong change.

10 – 我可唔可以用信用卡找數?

Romanization: ngo5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji3 jung6 seon3 jung6 kaat1 zaau2 sou3?
Meaning: Can I pay with a credit card?

11 – 可唔可以換細一個碼?

Romanization: ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 wun6 sai3 jat1 go3 maa5?
Meaning: Can you exchange it for a smaller size?

4. Asking for Help

Since you’re reading these beginner phrases, chances are you’re not yet fluent in Cantonese. As a result, there might be times during your travels when you get a little lost and confused. This is perfectly fine, as long as you can explain the situation and move on.

Maybe you want to say that you don’t speak Cantonese very well, that you don’t understand, or that you’d like the other party to repeat what they said. It’s better to use Cantonese in these situations because the longer you keep the conversation going, the more you’ll progress!

    → Asking for directions isn’t always as simple as locating the bathroom. If you’re traveling to Hong Kong, make sure you come prepared! We recommend checking out our list of must-know Cantonese travel phrases.

Question Marks Over a Woman’s Head

Here are the most useful phrases in Cantonese for beginners who aren’t yet confident in their speaking or listening skills:

1 – 我可以點去巴士站呀?

Romanization: ngo5 ho2 ji5 dim2 heoi3 baa1 si2 zaam6 aa3?
Meaning: How do I get to the bus stop?
Note: You may replace “巴士站” with the name of whatever place you want to inquire about. For example:

  • Airport: 機場 (gei1 coeng4)
  • Hotel: 酒店 (zau2 dim3)
  • Mall: 商場 (soeng1 coeng4)
  • Supermarket: 超級市場 (ciu1 kap1 si5 coeng4)
  • Bank: 銀行 (ngan4 hong4)
  • Hospital: 醫院 (ji1 jyun2)
  • Post office: 郵局 (jau4 guk2)
  • Library: 圖書館 (tou4 syu1 gun2)

2 – 便利店喺邊呀?

Romanization: bin6 lei6 dim3 hai2 bin1 aa3?
Meaning: Where is the convenience store?
Note: You may replace “便利店” with the name of whatever place you want to inquire about. For example:

  • Bakery: 餅店 (beng2 dim3)
  • Police station: 警局 (ging2 guk2)
  • Pharmacy: 藥房 (joek6 fong4)
  • Movie theater: 戲院 (hei3 jyun2)
  • Restaurant: 餐廳 (caan1 teng1)
  • Barbershop: 飛髮舖 (fei1 faat3 pou2)
  • Bookstore: 書局 (syu1 guk2)
  • Florist: 花店 (faa1 dim3)

3 – 我唔識講廣東話。

Romanization: ngo5 m4 sik1 gong2 gwong2 dung1 waa2.
Meaning: I can’t speak Cantonese.

4 – 你識唔識講英文呀?

Romanization: nei5 sik1 m4 sik1 gong2 jing1 man2 aa3?
Meaning: Do you speak English?

5 – 我唔明。

Romanization: ngo5 m4 ming4.
Meaning: I don’t understand.

6 – 唔該幫我叫醫生。

Romanization: m4 goi1 bong1 ngo5 giu3 ji1 saang1.
Meaning: Please call a doctor for me.

7 – 救命!

Romanization: gau3 meng6!
Meaning: Help!

8 – 可唔可以喺張地圖度,指俾我睇呀?

Romanization: ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 hai2 zoeng1 dei6 tou4 dou6, zi2 bei2 ngo5 tai2 aa3?
Meaning: Can you show me on the map?

9 – 呢班車去邊度㗎?

Romanization: ni1 baan1 ce1 heoi3 bin1 dou6 gaa3?
Meaning: Where does this bus go?

10 – 請講多一次。

Romanization: cing2 gong2 do1 jat1 ci3.
Meaning: Once again, please.

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

Can’t wait to continue your Cantonese journey after mastering these beginner phrases? We know that learning a new language can be tiresome or even lonely, but with the right tools, you can master this beautiful language without all the struggling. 

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 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

Max Out with These Advanced Cantonese Words

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We’ve already compiled guides on Cantonese words for beginners and intermediate learners for those who are dedicated to acquiring this fantastic language. And now, for those who have persevered and made it to the advanced level, we have also put together this advanced Cantonese words guide. If you’re looking to become a master in Cantonese and are wondering what vocabulary words you should learn next, this one’s for you!

A Woman Marking Up a Study Book

Learn the advanced Cantonese words you need!

In this article, we’ll list the most important Cantonese words for advanced learners so that you can communicate, understand, and express situations more accurately. Keep reading!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Academic Words
  2. Business Words
  3. Medical Words
  4. Legal Words
  5. General Advanced Words
  6. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Academic Words

Graduation

Our first set of advanced Cantonese vocabulary words comprises terms related to academia. These words will be essential if you plan to study in Hong Kong

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaningExample
1學術 (adj.)hok6 seot6academic近年學術文章嘅出版數量增加。
gan6 nin4 hok6 seot6 man4 zoeng1 ge3 ceot1 baan2 sou3 loeng6 zang1 gaa1.
The number of academic writings being published has increased in recent years.
2意見 (n.)ji3 gin3opinion大家有咩意見或者諗法?
daai6 gaa1 jau5 me1 ji3 gin3 waak6 ze2 lam2 faat3?
Does anyone have any opinions or thoughts?
3參考書目 (n.)caam1 haau2 syu1 muk6bibliography參考書目如下。
caam1 haau2 syu1 muk6 jyu4 haa6.
Please find the bibliography below.
4結論 (n.)git3 leon6conclusion結論係令讀者留下好印象嘅最後機會。
git3 leon6 hai6 ling6 duk6 ze2 lau4 haa6 hou2 jan3 zoeng6 ge3 zeoi3 hau6 gei1 wui3.
The last chance to impress the readers is through the conclusion.
5論文 (n.)leon6 man2thesis個教授要求寫一篇三十頁嘅論文啊。
go3 gaau3 sau6 jiu1 kau4 se2 jat1 pin1 saam1 sap6 jip6 ge3 leon6 man2 aa3.       
The professor asked for a thirty-page thesis.
6隱喻 (n.)jan2 jyu6metaphor隱喻令讀者發揮想像力。
jan2 jyu6 ling6 duk6 ze2 faat3 fai1 soeng2 zoeng6 lik6.
Metaphors encourage readers to imagine.
7抄襲 (n.)caau1 zaap6plagiarism抄襲係一個好嚴重嘅罪行。
caau1 zaap6 hai6 jat1 go3 hou2 jim4 zung6 ge3 zeoi6 hang6.
Plagiarism is a serious crime.
8結構 (n.)git3 kau3structure建築結構
gin3 zuk1 git3 kau3
Architecture structure
9來源 (n.)loi4 jyun4source文章冇列明任何來源。
man4 zoeng1 mou5 lit6 ming4 jam6 ho4 loi4 jyun4.
This article does not specify the sources.
10簡報 (n.)gaan2 bou3presentation設計引人入勝嘅簡報。
cit3 gai3 jan5 jan4 jap6 sing3 ge3 gaan2 bou3.
Design a fascinating presentation.
11文學士 (n.)man4 hok6 si6Bachelor of Arts文學士適唔適合我?
man4 hok6 si6 sik1 m4 sik1 hap6 ngo5?
Does a Bachelor of Arts suit me?
12格式 (n.)gaak3 sik1format引文格式
jan5 man4 gaak3 sik1
Citation format
13研究 (n.)jin4 gau3research私人研究嘅成本好高。
si1 jan4 jin4 gau3 ge3 sing4 bun2 hou2 gou1.
Private research is very costly.
14例子 (n.)lai6 zi2example講一個你成功處理工作困難嘅例子。
gong2 jat1 go3 nei5 sing4 gung1 cyu5 lei5 gung1 zok3 kwan3 naan4 ge3 lai6 zi2.
Tell me about an example where you overcame a challenge at work.
15段 (n.)dyun6paragraph第三段
dai6 saam1 dyun6
The third paragraph
16學術寫作 (n.)hok6 seot6 se2 zok3academic writing學術寫作係申請美國大學時必備嘅能力。
hok6 seot6 se2 zok3 hai6 san1 cing2 mei5 gwok3 daai6 hok6 si4 bit1 bei6 ge3 nang4 lik6.
Academic writing is a necessary skill for applying to universities in the States.
17摘要 (n.)zaak6 jiu3abstract摘要內容必須要緊湊。
zaak6 jiu3 noi6 jung4 bit1 seoi1 jiu3 gan2 cau3.
The content of an abstract has to be tight.
18個案研究 (n.)go3 on3 jin4 gau3case study個案研究報告
go3 on3 jin4 gau3 bou3 gou3
Case study report
19介紹 (n.)gaai3 siu6introduction自我介紹
zi6 ngo5 gaai3 siu6
Self-introduction
20改寫 (n.)goi2 se2paraphrase改寫句子
goi2 se2 geoi3 zi2
Paraphrasing a sentence
21副教授 (n.)fu3 gaau3 sau6associate professor副教授都係终身嘅。
fu3 gaau3 sau6 dou1 hai6 zung1 san1 ge3.
Associate professor is also a lifelong position.
22研討會 (n.)jin4 tou2 wui2seminar學術研討會
hok6 seot6 jin4 tou2 wui2
Academic seminar
23理論 (n.)lei5 leon6theory科學理論
fo1 hok6 lei5 leon6
Scientific theory
24研究生 (n.)jin4 gau3 sang1graduate student珍妮係研究生。
zan1 nei4 hai6 jin4 gau3 sang1.
Jenny is a graduate student.
25座談會 (n.)zo6 taam4 wui2symposium佢喺文章分享對座談會嘅感悟。
keoi5 hai2 man4 zoeng1 fan1 hoeng2 deoi3 zo6 taam4 wui2 ge3 gam2 ng6.
He shared his thoughts on the symposium in an article.

2. Business Words

Business Diagram

As an advanced Cantonese learner who’s serious about your studies, you’ll greatly benefit from learning words related to the business world. Memorizing the words below will give you a leg up as you search for a job in Hong Kong and allow you to discuss a wider range of topics. 

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaningExample
1經濟 (n.)ging1 zai3economics經濟可以應用喺好多範疇。
ging1 zai3 ho2 ji5 jing3 jung6 hai2 hou2 do1 faan6 cau4.
Economics is a good background for many fields.
2通脹率 (n.)tung1 zoeng3 leot2inflation rate津巴布韋係全世界通脹率最誇張嘅國家。
zeon1 baa1 bou3 wai5 hai6 cyun4 sai3 gaai3 tung1 zoeng3 leot2 zeoi3 kwaa1 zoeng1 ge3 gwok3 gaa1.
Zimbabwe has the world’s most bizarre inflation rate.
3通縮 (n.)tung1 suk1deflation通縮即係整體物價水平下降,係通脹嘅相反。
tung1 suk1 zik1 hai6 zing2 tai2 mat6 gaa3 seoi2 ping4 haa6 gong3, hai6 tung1 zoeng3 ge3 soeng1 faan2.        
Deflation means a fall in the general price level; it is the opposite of inflation.
4圖表 (n.)tou4 biu2chart個圖表顯示公司上季嘅銷售業績。
go3 tou4 biu2 hin2 si6 gung1 si1 soeng6 gwai3 ge3 siu1 sau6 jip6 zik1.
This chart shows the company’s sales from last quarter.
5每月數據 (n.)mui5 jyut6 sou3 geoi3monthly breakdown睇住個每月數據,金融形勢愈嚟愈清楚。
tai2 zyu6 go3 mui5 jyut6 sou3 geoi3, gam1 jung4 jing4 sai3 jyu6 lei4 jyu6 cing1 co2.      
Looking at the monthly breakdown, the financial situation becomes clearer.
6跌 (v.)dit3to drop最近報告濫用毒品嘅人數跌咗。
zeoi3 gan6 laam5 joek6 ge3 bou3 gou3 jan4 sou3 dit3 zo2.        
The number of reported drug abuse has decreased recently.
7反彈 (n./v.)faan2 daan6rebound無論如何,我哋都要搵辦法嚟彌補呢個新嘅反彈。
mou4 leon6 jyu4 ho4, ngo5 dei6 dou1 jiu3 wan2 baan6 faat3 lei4 nei4 bou2 ni1 go3 san1 ge3 faan2 daan6.       
At any rate, we have to find a way to compensate for that new rebound.
8穩步上升 (v.)wan2 bou6 soeng6 sing1to increase steadily睇嚟我哋每月嘅收入穩步上升。
tai2 lei4 ngo5 dei6 mui5 jyut6 ge3 sau1 jap6 wan2 bou6 soeng6 sing1.
It seems that our monthly incomes are increasing steadily.
9總銷售額 (n.)zung2 siu1 sau6 ngaak2total sales上年嘅總銷售額高過大家預期。
soeng6 nin2 ge3 zung2 siu1 sau6 ngaak2 gou1 gwo3 daai6 gaa1 jyu6 kei4.
Last year’s total sales were a lot higher than everybody had expected.
10銷售預測 (n.)siu1 sau6 jyu6 cak1sales forecast銷售預測係必要嘅商業行為。
siu1 sau6 jyu6 cak1 hai6 bit1 jiu3 ge3 soeng1 jip6 hang4 wai4.
Developing sales forecasts is a necessary business practice.
11銷售業績 (n.)siu1 sau6 jip6 zik1sales performance呢間公司嘅銷售業績咁好,應該值得投資。
ni1 gaan1 gung1 si1 ge3 siu1 sau6 jip6 zik1 gam3 hou2, jing1 goi1 zik6 dak1 tau4 zi1.
This company should be worth investing in because of its excellent sales performance.
12推廣活動 (n.)teoi1 gwong2 wut6 dung6campaign為咗推廣產品,佢哋實行一個全國推廣活動。
wai6 zo2 teoi1 gwong2 caan2 ban2, keoi5 dei6 sat6 hang4 jat1 go3 cyun4 gwok3 teoi1 gwong2 wut6 dung6.      
In order to promote the product, they are running a nationwide campaign.
13PRESENT (v.)PRE6 SEN6presentation推銷一個諗法嘅時候,最好為個PRESENT準備充足。
teoi1 siu1 jat1 go3 nam2 faat3 ge3 si4 hau6, zeoi3 hou2 wai6 go3 PRE6 SEN1 zeon2 bei6 cung1 zuk1.
The best way to sell an idea is to be well prepared for a presentation.
14講解 (v.)gong2 gaai2to explain個水手講解佢點樣俾海岸護衛隊救返。
go3 seoi2 sau2 gong2 gaai2 keoi5 dim2 joeng2 bei2 hoi2 ngon6 wu6 wai6 deoi2 gau3 faan1.
The sailor explained how he was rescued by the coast guard.
15準備 (n./v.)zeon2 bei6preparation旅行要準備好多嘢。
heoi3 leoi5 hang4 jiu3 zeon2 bei6 hou2 do1 je5.
Traveling requires a lot of preparation.
16CHECK (v.)CHECK1to check因為技術問題,我CHECK唔到個銀行戶口。
jan1 wai6 gei6 seot6 man6 tai4, ngo5 CHECK1 m4 dou2 go3 ngan4 hong4 wu6 hau2.
I can’t check my bank account due to technical problems.
17投影機 (n.)tau4 jing2 gei1projector如果呢盞燈閃下閃下,即係個投影機要修理喇。
jyu4 gwo2 ni1 zaan2 dang1 sim2 haa5 sim2 haa5, zik1 hai6 go3 tau4 jing2 gei1 jiu3 sau1 lei5 laa3.
If this light blinks, it means the projector needs to be fixed.
18會議室 (n.)wui6 ji5 sat1meeting room會議室嘅燈光可以影響成間房嘅氣氛。
wui6 ji5 sat1 ge3 dang1 gwong1 ho2 ji5 jing2 hoeng2 seng4 gaan1 fong2 ge3 hei3 fan1.        
The lighting in a meeting room can influence the atmosphere in the room.
19墨 (n.)mak6ink衫上面啲墨跡好難洗甩。
saam1 soeng6 min6 di1 mak6 zik1 hou2 naan4 sai2 lat1.
It’s very hard to get rid of the ink mark on the shirt.
20白板 (n.)baak6 baan2whiteboard要展示一啲視覺上嘅嘢,白板係最好嘅途徑。
jiu3 zin2 si6 jat1 di1 si6 gok3 soeng6 ge3 je5, baak6 baan2 hai6 zeoi3 hou2 ge3 tou4 ging3.
A whiteboard is a perfect means to demonstrate something visually.
21實體店 (n.)sat6 tai2 dim3physical store實體店會閂門,但係網上商店就可以24小時開住。
sat6 tai2 dim3 wui5 saan1 mun4, daan6 hai6 mong5 soeng6 soeng1 dim3 zau6 ho2 ji5 ji6 sap6 sei3 siu2 si4 hoi1 zyu6.
Physical stores have to close up every day, but online stores can be opened 24 hours a day.
22速遞 (n.)cuk1 dai6courier咁急?要寄速遞先趕得切喇。
gam3 gap1? jiu3 gei3 cuk1 dai6 sin1 gon2 dak1 cit3 laa3.So urgent?
Then we’ll have to send it by courier to be on time.
23物流公司 (n.)mat6 lau4 gung1 si1logistics company你有冇相熟嘅物流公司?我有一批貨要運去大陸。
nei5 jau5 mou5 soeng1 suk6 ge3 mat6 lau4 gung1 si1? ngo5 jau5 jat1 pai1 fo3 jiu3 wan6 heoi3 daai6 luk6.
Do you have a preferred logistics company? I have a number of goods to be transported to the mainland.
24負責 (v.)fu6 zaak3to take responsibility係我做錯程序,我會負責。
hai6 ngo5 zou6 co3 cing4 zeoi6, ngo5 wui5 fu6 zaak3.
I did not follow the procedures well; I will take responsibility.
25裁員 (n.)coi4 jyun4layoff裁員通知已經落咗喇,今次唔知係邊個黑仔。
coi4 jyun4 tung1 zi1 ji5 ging1 lok6 zo2 laa3, gam1 ci3 m4 zi1 hai6 bin1 go3 haak1 zai2.
The layoff notice has already been sent, but we don’t know who the unlucky ones are.

3. Medical Words

Clinic

Whether you plan to study medicine, want to land a job in the medical field, or happen to find yourself in the emergency room, you’ll want to know the following words.

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaningExample
1專科 (n.)zyun1 fo1specialists (medical)有冇專科醫生推薦?
jau5 mou5 zyun1 fo1 ji1 sang1 teoi1 zin3?
Any recommended specialist doctors?
2醫科 (n.)ji1 fo1medical studies人人都想讀醫科。
jan4 jan4 dou1 soeng2 duk6 ji1 fo1.
Everyone wants to pursue medical studies.
3法醫 (n.)faat3 ji1forensics法醫人類學家
faat3 ji1 jan4 leoi6 hok6 gaa1
Forensic anthropologist
4診斷 (n.)can2 dyun6diagnosis必須以進一步嘅調查確定診斷。
bit1 seoi1 ji5 zeon3 jat1 bou6 ge3 diu6 caa4 kok3 ding6 can2 dyun6.
It’s necessary to conduct further investigation to confirm the diagnosis.
5症狀 (n.)zing3 zong6symptom新型冠狀病毒嘅症狀
san1 jing4 gun1 zong6 beng6 duk6 ge3 zing3 zong6
The symptoms of COVID-19
6藥物 (n.)joek6 mat6drug藥物可能有副作用。
joek6 mat6 ho2 nang4 jau5 fu3 zok3 jung6.
The drug may contain side effects.
7藥物敏感 (n.)joek6 mat6 man5 gam2drug sensitivity我有藥物敏感。
ngo5 jau5 joek6 mat6 man5 gam2.
I have drug sensitivity. 
8食物中毒 (n.)sik6 mat6 zung3 duk6food poisoning我應該係食物中毒。
ngo5 jing1 goi1 hai6 sik6 mat6 zung3 duk6.
I probably got food poisoning.
9腹部絞痛 (n.)fuk1 bou6 gaau2 tung3abdominal cramps症狀包括腹部絞痛
zing3 zong6 baau1 kut3 fuk1 bou6 gaau2 tung3
Symptoms include abdominal cramps
10食慾不振 (n.)sik6 juk6 bat1 zan3loss of appetite症狀包括食慾不振
zing3 zong6 baau1 kut3 sik6 juk6 bat1 zan3
Symptoms include loss of appetite
11發燒 (n.)faat3 siu1fever症狀包括發燒
zing3 zong6 baau1 kut3 faat3 siu1
Symptoms include fever
12乏力 (n.)fat6 lik6fatigue症狀包括乏力
zing3 zong6 baau1 kut3 fat6 lik6
Symptoms include fatigue
13反胃 (n.)faan2 wai6nausea症狀包括反胃
zing3 zong6 baau1 kut3 faan2 wai6
Symptoms include nausea
14嘔 (n.)au2vomiting症狀包括嘔
zing3 zong6 baau1 kut3 au2
Symptoms include vomiting
15肚屙 (n.)tou5 o1diarrhea症狀包括腹瀉
zing3 zong6 baau1 kut3 tou5 o1
Symptoms include diarrhea
16頭痛 (n.)tau4 tung3headaches症狀包括頭痛
zing3 zong6 baau1 kut3 tau4 tung3
Symptoms include headaches
17牙痛 (n.)ngaa4 tung3toothaches症狀包括牙痛
zing3 zong6 baau1 kut3 ngaa4 tung3
Symptoms include toothaches
18肌肉痛 (n.)gei1 juk6 tung3muscle pain症狀包括肌肉痛
zing3 zong6 baau1 kut3 gei1 juk6 tung3
Symptoms include muscle pain
19關節痛 (n.)gwaan1 zit3 tung3joint pain症狀包括關節痛
zing3 zong6 baau1 kut3 gwaan1 zit3 tung3
Symptoms include joint pain
20過敏反應 (n.)gwo3 man5 faan2 jing3allergic reaction我有過敏反應。
ngo5 jau5 gwo3 man5 faan2 jing3.
I got an allergic reaction.
21花粉過敏 (n.)faa1 fan2 gwo3 man5hay fever我有花粉過敏。
ngo5 jau5 faa1 fan2 gwo3 man5.
I got hay fever.
22濕疹 (n.)sap1 can2eczema我有濕疹。
ngo5 jau5 sap1 can2.
I got eczema.
23類固醇 (n.)leoi6 gu3 seon4steroid我對類固醇過敏。
ngo5 deoi3 leoi6 gu3 seon4 gwo3 man5.
I am allergic to steroids.
24胃潰瘍 (n.)wai6 kui2 joeng4peptic ulcers我有胃潰瘍。
ngo5 jau5 wai6 kui2 joeng4.
I got peptic ulcers.
25免疫系統疾病 (n.)min2 jik6 hai6 tung2 zat6 beng6autoimmune disease我有免疫系統疾病。
ngo5 jau5 min2 jik6 hai6 tung2 zat6 beng6.
I got an autoimmune disease.

4. Legal Words

Gavel

As you enter an advanced level of Cantonese, learning a bit of legal vocabulary will help you sound better educated and allow you to discuss important topics with greater accuracy. Here are just a few of the key terms you should know. 

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaningExample
1法庭 (n.)faat3 ting4court法庭係進行法律聆訊嘅地方。
faat3 ting4 hai6 zeon3 hang4 faat3 leot6 ling4 seon3 ge3 dei6 fong1.
A court is a place where the adjudication of legal disputes is carried out.
2結論 (n.)git3 leon6decision上訴法庭嘅結論
soeng5 sou3 faat3 ting4 ge3 git3 leon6
Decision from Court of Appeal
3案件 (n.)on3 gin2case民事案件
man4 si6 on3 gin2
A civil case
4陪審團 (n.)pui4 sam2 tyun4jury陪審團係普通香港市民。
pui4 sam2 tyun4 hai6 pou2 tung1 hoeng1 gong2 si5 man4
The jury consists of ordinary Hong Kong citizens.
5審判 (n.)sam2 pun3trial審判結果
sam2 pun3 git3 gwo2
Trial result
6合同 (n.)hap6 tung4contract請細閱及簽訂合同。
cing2 sai3 jyut6 kap6 cim1 ding3 hap6 tung4.
Please review and sign the contract.
7罰款 (n.)fat6 fun2fine佢非法泊車需要交罰款。
keoi5 fei1 faat3 paak3 ce1 seoi1 jiu3 gaau1 fat6 fun2.
He received a fine for parking illegally.
8疑犯 (n.)ji4 faan2suspect疑犯揸車走甩咗。
ji4 faan2 zaa1 ce1 zau2 lat1 zo2.
The suspect did a hit and run.
9拉 (v.)laai1arrest警方拉咗兩名疑犯。
ging2 fong1 laai1 zo2 loeng5 ming4 ji4 faan2.
The police arrested two suspects.
10檢控 (v.)gim2 hung3 prosecute佢被檢控。
keoi5 bei6 gim2 hung3
He is being prosecuted.
11被告 (n.)bei6 gou3defendant被告申請保釋。
bei6 gou3 san1 cing2 bou2 sik1.
The defendant applied for bail.
12法律 (n.)faat3 leot6law好多讀法律嘅學生去打政府工。
hou2 do1 duk6 faat3 leot6 ge3 hok6 saang1 heoi3 daa2 zing3 fu2 gung1.
Many students of law take government jobs.
13律師 (n.)leot6 si1lawyer律師正為犯人辯護。
leot6 si1 zing3 wai6 faan6 jan4 bin6 wu6.
The lawyer is defending the criminal.
14定罪 (n.)ding6 zeoi6conviction定罪紀錄
ding6 zeoi6 gei2 luk6
Conviction record
15原告 (n.)jyun4 gou3plaintiff原告取得補償。
jyun4 gou3 ceoi2 dak1 bou2 soeng4.
The plaintiff is reimbursed.
16立法 (n.)laap6 faat3legislation立法部門
laap6 faat3 bou6 mun4
Legislative branch
17保證 (n.)bou2 zing3pledge消極保證
siu1 gik6 bou2 zing3
Negative Pledge 
18有罪 (adj.)jau5 zeoi6guilty佢被判有罪。
keoi5 bei6 pun3 jau5 zeoi6.
He is found guilty.
19判決 (n.)pun3 kyut3verdict佢質疑判決。
keoi5 zat1 ji4 pun3 kyut3.
He questions the verdict.
20指控  (v.)zi2 hung3accuse佢被指控偷車。
keoi5 bei6 zi2 hung3 tau1 ce1.
He is accused of car theft.
21犯法 (adj.)fan6 faat3illegal吸食大麻喺香港係犯法嘅。
kap1 sik6 daai6 maa4 hai2 hoeng1 gong2 hai6 faan6 faat3 ge3.
Smoking marijuana is illegal in Hong Kong.
22證據 (n.)zing3 geoi3evidence如果你可以揾到證據就最好啦。
jyu4 gwo2 nei5 ho2 ji5 wan2 dou2 zing3 geoi3 zau6 zeoi3 hou2 laa1.
If you can find evidence, that would be good.
23證明 (v.)zing3 ming4to prove所有證據都證明你就係殺人兇手。
so2 jau5 zing3 geoi3 dou1 zing3 ming4 nei5 zau6 hai6 saat3 jan4 hung1 sau2.
All of the evidence proves that you are the killer.
24破產 (n.)po3 caan2to go bankrupt就算佢破產,佢老婆都冇離開佢。
zau6 syun3 keoi5 po3 caan2, keoi5 lou5 po4 dou1 mou5 lei4 hoi1 keoi5.
Even when he went bankrupt, his wife still didn’t leave him.
25手續 (n.)sau2 zuk6procedures請辦理手續。
cing2 baan6 lei5 sau2 zuk6.
Please handle the procedures.

5. General Advanced Words

進 - Progress

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaningExample
1論盡 (adj.)leon6 zeon6clumsy新嚟個司機好論盡。
san1 lei4 go3 si1 gei1 hou2 leon6 zeon6.
The new driver is very clumsy.
2揦西 (adj.)laa2 sai1sloppy; slipshod; careless and unsystematic要成功,一定唔可以揦西。
jiu3 sing4 gung1, jat1 ding6 m4 ho2 ji5 laa2 sai1.
In order to succeed, one must not be sloppy.
3鹹濕 (adj.)haam4 sap1lustful; perverted你正一鹹濕佬!
nei5 zing3 jat1 haam4 sap1 lou2!
You’re such a pervert!
4搵笨 (v.)wan2 ban6to cheat; to con; to trick; to fool你唔好搵我笨。
nei5 m4 hou2 wan2 ngo5 ban6.
Don’t you fool me.
5放飛機 (v.)fong3 fei1 gei1to stand somebody up; to fail to keep an appointment你成日放人飛機,所以冇人再約你。
nei5 sing4 jat6 fong3 jan4 fei1 gei1, so2 ji5 mou5 jan4 zoi3 joek3 nei5.        
You always stand people up, so no one asks you out anymore.
6發錢寒 (v.)faat3 cin2 hon4to be obsessed with money細細個就發錢寒,有冇攪錯!
sai3 sai3 go3 zau6 faat3 cin2 hon4, jau5 mou5 gaau2 co3!        
So obsessed with money at this young age? That’s ridiculous!
7眼紅 (v.)ngaan5 hung4to be jealous of (someone)眼紅人哋即係對自己冇信心。
ngaan5 hung4 jan4 dei6 zik1 hai6 deoi3 zi6 gei2 mou5 seon3 sam1.
Being jealous of others means that one lacks self-confidence.
8發火 (v.)faat3 fo2to lose one’s temper講起就發火!
gong2 hei2 zau6 faat3 fo2!
I’m pissed off when speaking of that!
9劈酒 (v.)pek3 zau2binge drinking晚晚都去劈酒,小心你個肝呀!
maan5 maan5 dou1 heoi3 pek3 zau2, siu2 sam1 nei5 go3 gon1 aa3!        
You go binge drinking every night. Take care of your liver!
10貓咗 (adj.)maau1 zo2to be drunk佢次次貓咗都會打畀前女友。
keoi5 ci3 ci3 maau1 zo2 dou1 wui5 daa2 bei2 cin4 neoi5 jau5.
Every time he got drunk, he’d call his ex-girlfriend.
11斷片 (adv.)tyun5 pin2blackout (after drinking too much)我未試過飲酒飲到斷片。
ngo5 mei6 si3 gwo3 jam2 zau2 jam2 dou3 tyun5 pin2.
I’ve never drunk to the point of blacking out.
12啤一啤 (v.)be1 jat1 be1to have a pint of beer together放工得唔得閒去啤一啤?
fong3 gung1 dak1 m4 dak1 haan4 heoi3 be1 jat1 be1?
Free to go for a drink after work?
13眼花 (v.)ngaan5 faa1to have blurry vision人老咗,就開始眼花。
jan4 lou5 zo2, zau6 hoi1 ci5 ngaan5 faa1.
As we age, we start to have blurry vision.
14老花 (adj.)lou5 faa1presbyopia老花眼鏡
lou5 faa1 ngaan5 geng2
reading glasses
15四眼 (adj.)sei3 ngaan5four-eyes唔好叫人四眼仔,冇禮貌。
m4 hou2 giu3 jan4 sei3 ngaan5 zai2, mou5 lai5 maau6.    
Don’t call people four-eyes; it’s rude.
16鬥雞 (adj.)dau6 gai1cross-eyed我細個有鬥雞,不過之後做手術整返好。
ngo5 sai3 go3 jau5 dau6 gai1, bat1 gwo1 zi1 hau6 zou6 sau2 seot6 zing2 faan1 hou2.
I was cross-eyed when I was younger, but it was fixed after surgery.
17菠蘿蓋 (n.)bo1 lo4 goi3kneecap菠蘿蓋後面嘅軟骨
bo1 lo4 goi3 hau6 min6 ge3 jyun5 gwat1 cartilage at the back of the kneecap
18厚多士 (adj.)hau5 do1 si2nosy阿嬸你厚多士呀
aa3 sam2 nei5 hau5 do1 si2 aa3!
Ma’am, you’re so nosy!
19蝦碌 (adj.)haa1 luk1clumsy; outtakes (or bloopers)成龍最出名係佢啲蝦碌鏡頭。
sing4 lung4 zeoi3 ceot1 meng2 hai6 keoi5 di1 haa1 luk1 geng3 tau4.
Jackie Chan is famous for his blooper reels.
20食軟飯 (n.)sik1 jyun5 faan6an action in which a man depends on his woman for monetary support or has a sugar-mama我勸你離開佢,佢淨係識得食軟飯。
ngo5 hyun3 nei5 lei4 hoi1 keoi5, keoi5 zing6 hai6 sik1 dak1 sik6 jyun5 faan6.
I advise you to leave him; he’s only using you for financial support.
21白鴿眼 (adj.)baak6 gaap3 ngaan5snobbish邊個教到你咁白鴿眼㗎?
bin1 go3 gaau3 dou3 nei5 gam3 baak6 gaap3 ngaan5 gaa3?
Who taught you to be this snobbish?
22食死貓 (v.)sik6 sei2 maau1to take the blame for others’ wrongdoings我呀姐迫我食死貓。
ngo5 aa3 ze1 bik1 ngo5 sik6 sei2 maau1.        
My manager forced me to take the blame.
23打蛇餅 (adj.)daa2 se4 beng2a queue that is too long, forming a zig-zag pattern因為交通意外,巴士站度打晒蛇餅。
jan1 wai6 gaau1 tung1 ji3 ngoi6, baa1 si2 zaam6 dou6 daa2 saai3 se4 beng2.        
There’s a long line at the bus stop because of the traffic accident.
24軟皮蛇 (n.)jyun5 pei4 se4a lazy person unwilling to get things done而家啲後生仔個個都軟皮蛇咁。
ji4 gaa1 di1 hau6 saang1 zai2 go3 go3 dou1 jyun5 pei4 se4 gam2.        
Teenagers nowadays are lazy and don’t have motivation.
25吹水 (v.)ceoi1 ngau4to boast; to brag; to talk big佢成日都吹水,所以冇人信佢講嘅嘢。
keoi5 sing4 jat6 dou1 ceoi1 seoi2, so2 ji5 mou5 jan4 seon3 keoi5 gong2 ge3 je5.
He’s always bragging, so no one believes his words anymore.
26搶眼 (adj.)coeng2 ngaan5eye-catching; dazzling; attractive佢揸住架好搶眼嘅車。
keoi5 zaa1 zyu6 gaa3 hou2 coeng2 ngaan5 ge3 ce1.
He’s driving a very attractive car.
27頭耷耷 (adj.)tau4 dap1 dap1head drooping; depressed佢比賽輸咗,頭耷耷咁返屋企。
keoi5 bei2 coi3 syu1 zo2, tau4 dap1 dap1 gam2 faan1 uk1 kei2.
He lost the match and went home with his head low.
28夾手夾腳 (adv.)gaap3 sau2 gaap3 goek3to work together; to do something together夾手夾腳砌埋個台,快啲收工。
gaap3 sau2 gaap3 goek3 cai3 maai4 go3 toi4, faai3 di1 sau1 gung1.
Let’s finish building the stage together as soon as possible so we can get off work sooner.
29面阻阻 (adj.)min6 zo2 zo2to be in conflict or acrimony (usually of two parties)你哋成日面阻阻,影響到其他同事。
nei5 dei6 sing4 jat6 min6 zo2 zo2, jing2 hoeng2 dou2 kei4 taa1 tung4 si6.
You two are always in conflict, and it negatively affects other coworkers too.
30脆卜卜 (adj.)ceoi3 bok1 bok1crispy; crunchy; brittle個蛋糕入面有啲嘢脆卜卜,咩嚟㗎?
go3 daan6 gou1 jap6 min6 jau5 di1 je5 ceoi3 bok1 bok1, me1 lai4 gaa3?
There’s something crunchy inside the cake. What is it?
31軟腍腍 (adj.)jyun5 nam4 nam4soft and pliable糯米糍軟腍腍,我鍾意食。
no6 mai5 ci4 jyun5 nam4 nam4, ngo5 zung1 ji3 sik6.
Glutinous rice dumplings are soft. I love it.
32軟癩癩 (adj.)jyun5 laai4 laai4flaccid; lineless; powerless唔好成日軟癩癩攤喺梳化 。
m4 hou2 sing4 jat6 jyun5 laai4 laai4 taan1 hai2 so1 faa2.
Don’t flaccidly lay on the sofa all day.
33硬繃繃 (adj.)ngaang6 baang1 baang1hard; tight; stubborn佢份人硬繃繃,一啲都唔肯變通。
keoi5 fan6 jan4 ngaang6 baang1 baang1, jat1 di1 dou1 m4 hang2 bin3 tung1.
He is so stubborn and refuses to adapt to the circumstances.
34散修修 (adj.)saan2 sau1 sau1loose; messy啲嘢散修修,快啲執好佢。
di1 je5 saan2 sau1 sau1, faai3 di1 zap1 hou2 keoi5.
This stuff is so messy; tidy up.
35輕飄飄 (adj.)heng1 piu1 piu1very light; floating你個喼輕飄飄,冇嘢喺入面㗎?
nei5 go3 gip1 heng1 piu1 piu1, mou5 je5 hai2 jap6 min6 gaa4?
Your suitcase is so light. Is it empty?
36密質質 (adj.)mat6 zat1 zat1packed; cramped; dense地鐵成日都密質質,好逼。
dei6 tit3 sing4 jat6 dou1 mat6 zat1 zat1, hou2 bik1.
The subway is always so packed and crowded.
37出貓 (v.)ceot1 maau1cheating (on a test)我個仔俾人捉到考試出貓。
ngo5 go3 zai2 bei2 jan4 zuk1 dou2 haau2 si3 ceot1 maau1.
My son got caught cheating on an exam.
38出馬 (v.)ceot1 maa5to take the role or initiative to tackle a situation; to deal with a problem今晚大廚出馬,實有好嘢食。
gam1 maan5 daai6 cyu2 ceot1 maa5, sat6 jau5 hou2 je5 sik6.
The big chef is on duty; there’ll be some good food tonight for sure.
39金牛 (n.)gam1 ngau4HK$1000 bill假金牛
gaa2 gam1 ngau4
counterfeit HK$1000 bills
40火牛 (n.)fo2 ngau4electric transformer; adapter; charger呢個火牛係邊部機㗎?
ni1 go3 fo2 ngau4 hai6 bin1 bou6 gei1 gaa3?
Which appliance is this charger for?
41O嘴 (adv.)ou1 zeoi2shocked; puzzled; speechless; jaw-dropping; mouth-opening間餐廳貴到O嘴呀!
gaan1 caan1 teng1 gwai3 dou3 O1 zeoi2 aa3!
The restaurant is shockingly expensive!
42R晒頭 (adv.)aau1 saai3 tau4to be totally clueless or confused; perplexed呢本書咁深,睇到我R晒頭。
ni1 bun2 syu1 gam3 sam1, tai2 dou3 ngo5 aau1 saai3 tau4.
This book is so difficult, I’m perplexed.
43好瘀 (adj.)hou2 jyu2embarrassing or to be embarrassed佢喺全校面前向佢表白,但係俾佢拒絕,好瘀呀。
keoi5 hai2 cyun4 haau6 min6 cin4 hoeng3 keoi5 biu2 baak6, daan6 hai6 bei2 keoi5 keoi5 zyut3, hou2 jyu2 aa3.
He confessed his love to her in front of the whole school and got rejected. How embarrassing!
44眼白白 (adv.)ngaan5 baak6 baak6helplessly; not being able to make amends眼白白睇住佢走甩咗。
ngaan5 baak6 baak6 tai2 zyu6 keoi5 zau2 lat1 zo2.
I could only (helplessly) watch him run away.
45穿煲 (v.)cyun1 bou1to let a secret out; to fail in covering up something再咁落去,一定穿煲。
zoi3 gam2 lok6 heoi3, jat1 ding6 cyun1 bou1.
If it goes on like this, the secret will be out.
46長氣 (adj.)coeng4 hei3talkative; mumbling你咁長氣,我怕咗你。
nei5 gam3 coeng4 hei3, ngo5 paa3 zo2 nei5.
You’re too talkative; I give up.
47拗柴 (v.)aau2 caai4to twist one’s ankle我次次著高踭鞋都拗柴。
ngo5 ci3 ci3 zoek3 gou1 zaang1 haai4 dou1 aau2 caai4.
Every time I wear high heels, I twist my ankle.
48回水 (n.)wui4 seoi2reimbursement; refund啲觀眾個個喺度嗌「回水」。
di1 gun1 zung3 go3 go3 hai2 dou6 aai3 wui4 seoi2.
The whole audience is yelling, “Refunds!”
49浸過鹹水 (adj.)zam3 gwo3 haam4 seoi2to have lived/studied abroad咪以為浸過鹹水就高人一等。
mai5 ji5 wai4 zam3 gwo3 haam4 seoi2 zau6 gou1 jan4 jat1 dang2.
Don’t think that you’re better than others just because you’ve lived abroad.
50掘 (v.)gwat6to stare in a hostile manner; to glare佢淨係掘咗佢一眼,就冇再講嘢。
keoi5 zing6 hai6 gwat6 zo2 keoi5 jat1 ngaan5, zau6 mou5 zoi3 gong2 je5.
She only glared at him, and didn’t say anything anymore.

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

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

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

We know that learning a new language can be tiresome or even lonely, but with the right tools, you can master a language without all the struggling. 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!

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

Stay Strong with These Intermediate Cantonese Words

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

A Woman Studying on a Bus

Learn the intermediate words you need!

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

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

1. Numbers

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


Numbers on a Calculator

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

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

  • Count from 10 to 99
10

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

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

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

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

For example:

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

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

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

  • Count from 100 to 1,000
100

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Nouns

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

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

Noun

  • Technology – 科技 (fo1 gei6)

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

  • Appliances – 電器 (din6 hei3)

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

  • Transportation – 交通 (gaau1 tung1)

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

  • Hobbies – 興趣 (hing3 ceoi3)

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

  • Weather – 天氣 (tin1 hei3)

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

  • Dining – 用膳 (jung6 sin6)

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

3. Verbs

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

Verb
  • Common Verbs

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

  • Helping Verbs

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

  • Linking Verbs

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

4. Adjectives

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

Adj.

  • Describing Colors

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

  • Describing Values and Conditions

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

5. Adverbs

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

Adv.

  • Describing Time

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

  • Describing Frequency

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

  • Describing Degree

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

6. Prepositions

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

Prep.

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

7. Conjunctions

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


Conj.

  • Coordinating Conjunctions

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

  • Subordinating Conjunctions / Adverbial Conjunctions

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

  • Correlative Conjunctions / Adverbial Conjunctions

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

8. Final Particles

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

Emojis

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

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

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

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

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

If you’re ready to move on to the next level of Cantonese after learning these intermediate Cantonese words, try out CantoneseClass101.com. With us, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through mobile apps, desktop software, and our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture.

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