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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!

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

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.

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

Learn the Names of Animals in Cantonese

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

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

A Couple Walking on the Beach with Their Dog

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

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

1. At Home (Pets)

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

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

Goldfish

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

2. On the Farm (Farm Animals)

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

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

Livestock

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


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

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

Forest

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

4. In the Ocean (Aquatic / Marine Animals)

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

Seafood

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


5. Bugs and Insects

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

Ladybug

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

6. Birds, Reptiles & Amphibians

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

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

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

Sparrow

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

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

7. Animal Body Parts

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

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


8. Animal Proverbs

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

1 – 豬乸會上樹

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

More about the proverb – 

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

A Cute Pig

2 – 掛羊頭賣狗肉

Romanization: gwaa3 joeng4 tau4 maai6 gau2 juk6
Literal Translation: “Hang up a sheep’s head and sell dog meat”

More about the proverb – 

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

3 – 大石砸死蟹

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

More about the proverb – 

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

4 – 牛唔飲水唔撳得牛頭低

Romanization: ngau4 m4 jam2 seoi2 m4 gam6 dak1 ngau4 tau4 dai1
Literal Translation: “If a cow doesn’t want to drink, you can’t force its head down.”

More about the proverb – 

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

5 – 老貓燒鬚

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

More about the proverb – 

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

9. Bonus: The Twelve Zodiac Animals

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

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

Chinese Zodiac

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn Cantonese Phone Call Phrases

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Do you get nervous when the phone rings? 

Telephone phobia is the fear of talking on the phone, though it can even make you afraid of the ringing itself! 

Perhaps you fear criticism or judgement from the person who’s calling, or maybe you’re afraid of hearing an unfamiliar voice. 

While phone calls can be stressful enough in your mother tongue, making one in a foreign language can be especially tense. Because the language is less familiar to you, it might be more difficult to find the right words and accurately communicate your points

However, you can alleviate at least some of your worries by learning the most essential Cantonese phone phrases. Knowing them by heart will enable you to better understand the other speaker, express yourself, and ask for clarification if needed.

A Woman on the Phone

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the most useful Cantonese phone phrases for each stage of a call: greeting, identifying yourself, transferring the call, taking or leaving a message, handling connection issues, and more. Once we’re done here, you’ll be able to keep calm and pick up the phone with confidence.

Unless otherwise noted, the phone call phrases listed below are applicable to both formal and informal situations.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Hello?
  2. Who is this?
  3. I’m calling because…
  4. I need to speak to someone…
  5. Hold the line, please…
  6. Would you like to leave a message?
  7. Please say it again…
  8. Call you later!
  9. Sample Phone Conversations
  10. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Hello? 

A Woman Smiling and Confident while Doing a Video Call

Start the call with confidence!

There are two common phrases for answering the phone in Cantonese, both of which can be used in formal and informal settings. The first one is more popular than the second one. 

#1

Chinese Character: 喂。
Romanization: wai2.
Meaning: “Hi.” (can only be used for phone calls)

#2

Chinese Character: 哈囉。
Romanization: haa1 lo3.
Meaning: “Hello.” (can be used for phone calls and in-person interactions)

2. Who is this?

A Woman with a Question Mark Card in Front of Her Face

Who are you? 

Asking who the other person is:

Chinese Character: 請問邊位?
Romanization: cing2 man6 bin1 wai2?
Meaning: “Who is this, please?”

Telling the other person who you are:

Chinese Character: 我係 + [company name] + 嘅 + [your name]。
Romanization: ngo5 hai6 + [company name] + ge3 + [your name].
Meaning: “This is [your name] from [company name].”

Note: If the company name is inapplicable or if you’re making a casual phone call, simply omit “+ [company name] + 嘅” from the sentence.

3. I’m calling because…

To make sure your phone call goes smoothly, you should let the other person know why you’re calling. Below are phrases you can use to describe different reasons.

Reason #1

If you missed a call from someone, you can call them back and use this phrase when they pick up. 

Chinese Character: 請問你之前係唔係打過電話畀我?
Romanization: cing2 man6 nei5 zi1 cin4 hai6 m4 hai6 daa2 gwo3 din6 waa6 bei2 ngo5?
Meaning: “Did you call me before?”

Reason #2

If you previously talked with this person and wanted to give them a call, you can use this phrase. 

Chinese Character: 我哋傾過電話。
Romanization: ngo5 dei6 king1 gwo3 din6 waa2.
Meaning: “We talked on the phone.”

Reason #3

This is a more versatile phrase that you can adjust for your specific needs. We use it when we’re calling to complete an action, such as booking a table. 

Chinese Character: 唔該,我想 + [action – e.g. 訂枱] 。
Romanization: m4 goi1, ngo5 soeng2 + [action – e.g. deng6 toi2]. 
Meaning: “Excuse me, I want to [action – e.g. book a table].”

4. I need to speak to someone…

Whether you’re calling an office or your friend’s home phone, you may need to ask if you can be handed over to the person you intended to call. Here are a few different ways you can ask to speak with someone: 

Formal phrase #1

Chinese Character: 請問 + [name] + 喺唔喺度?
Romanization: cing2 man6 + [name] + hai2 m4 hai2 dou6?
Meaning: “Excuse me, is [name] here?”

Formal phrase #2

Chinese Character: 唔該請 + [name] + 聽電話。
Romanization: m4 goi1 cing2 + [name] + teng1 din6 waa2.
Meaning: “I would like to talk to [name], please.”

Formal & informal

Chinese Character: [name] + 而家方唔方便聽電話?
Romanization: [name] + ji4 gaa1 fong1 m4 fong1 bin6 teng1 din6 waa2?
Meaning: “Is [name] free to speak?”

Informal phrase #1

Chinese Character: 我想搵 + [name]。
Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 wan2 + [name].
Meaning: “I would like to talk to [name].”

Informal phrase #2

Chinese Character: [name] + 喺唔喺度?
Romanization: [name] + hai2 m4 hai2 dou6?
Meaning: “Is [name] here?”

If he or she is not there…

This is what you might hear if the person you’re seeking is not available: 

Chinese Character: 佢唔喺度喎。
Romanization: keoi5 m4 hai2 dou6 wo3.
Meaning: “He/she is not here.”

5. Hold the line, please…

Two Girls Trying to Catch a School Bus

Wait! 

#1

Chinese Character: 麻煩你等等。
Romanization: maa4 faan4 nei5 dang2 dang2.
Meaning: “Please hold on.”

#2

Chinese Character: 我而家將你嘅電話轉駁過去,請等等。
Romanization: ngo5 ji4 gaa1 zoeng1 nei5 ge3 din6 waa2 zyun2 bok3 gwo3 heoi3, cing2 dang2 dang2.
Meaning: “I will transfer you to him/her. Please wait for a moment.”

#3

Chinese Character: 唔該唔好收線住。
Romanization: m4 goi1 m4 hou2 sau1 sin3 zyu6.
Meaning: “Hold the line, please.”

6. Would you like to leave a message?

A Man in an Office Taking Notes while on a Phone Call

Would you like to leave a message?

#1

Chinese Character: 請問你可唔可以留低口訊?
Romanization: cing2 man6 nei5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 lau4 dai1 hau2 seon3?
Meaning: “Would you like to leave a message?”

#2

Chinese Character: 你可唔可以叫佢打返呢個電話 + [your phone number]?
Romanization: nei5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 giu3 keoi5 daa2 faan1 ni1 go3 din6 waa2 + [your phone number]?
Meaning: “Could you please ask him/her to call me back at the same number [your phone number]?”

#3

Chinese Character: 我嘅電話號碼係 + [your phone number]。
Romanization: ngo5 ge3 din6 waa2 hou6 maa5 hai6 + [your phone number].
Meaning: “My number is [your phone number].”

7. Please say it again…

Because you’re a non-native speaker, handling a phone call in Cantonese may prove to be a real struggle—especially when you throw in other communication barriers, such as a bad connection. Below are several phrases you can use to ask for clarification, repetition, or additional information. 

#1

Chinese Character: 我聽得唔係好清楚。
Romanization: ngo5 teng1 dak1 m4 hai6 hou2 cing1 co2.
Meaning: “I cannot hear you clearly.”

#2

Chinese Character: 唔該講多次。
Romanization: m4 goi1 gong2 do1 ci3.
Meaning: “Please say it again.”

#3

Chinese Character: 條線斷咗。
Romanization: tiu4 sin3 tyun5 zo2.
Meaning: “The line is disconnected.”

#4 

Chinese Character: 請問點稱呼?
Romanization: cing2 man6 dim2 cing1 fu1?
Meaning: “How shall I call you?”

#5 

Chinese Character: 請問你個名點串?
Romanization: cing2 man6 nei5 go3 meng2 dim2 cyun3?
Meaning: “How do you spell your name, please?”

#6

Chinese Character: 你嘅電話號碼係咩?
Romanization: nei5 ge3 din6 waa2 hou6 maa5 hai6 me1?
Meaning: “What’s your phone number?”

8. Call you later! 

Finally, it’s time to end the conversation and hang up the phone. There are a few ways you could do this in Cantonese, depending on the situation. 

#1

Chinese Character: 唔好意思,你打錯電話。
Romanization: m4 hou2 ji3 si1, nei5 daa2 co3 din6 waa2.
Meaning: “Sorry, wrong number.”

#2

Chinese Character: 我會打返畀你。
Romanization: ngo5 wui5 daa2 faan1 bei2 nei5.
Meaning: “I will call you back.”

#3

Chinese Character: 我等陣打畀你。
Romanization: ngo5 dang2 zan6 daa2 bei2 nei5.
Meaning: “I will call later.”

#4

Chinese Character: 我遲啲再打嚟啦。
Romanization: ngo5 ci4 di1 zoi3 daa2 lei4 laa1.
Meaning: “I’ll call again later.”

#5

Chinese Character: 我仲有冇其他嘢可以幫到你?
Romanization: ngo5 zung6 jau5 mou5 kei4 taa1 je5 ho2 ji5 bong1 dou2 nei5?
Meaning: “Is there anything else I can help you with?”

#6

Chinese Character: 唔該,拜拜。
Romanization: m4 goi1, baai1 baai3.
Meaning: “Thanks, bye.”

9. Sample Phone Conversations

Now that you have several Cantonese phone call phrases handy, it’s time to see what a real-life phone call might sound like. We’ve included two sample phone conversations here: one informal and one formal.

Informal

Keira is asking Omelia out for a brunch: 

Keira: 喂。
Romanization: wai2.
Meaning: “Hi.”

Omelia: 喂,我係Omelia。
Romanization: Wai2, ngo5 hai6 Omelia.
Meaning: “Hi, this is Omelia.”

Keira: 你今個星期六得唔得閒?
Romanization: nei5 gam1 go3 sing1 kei4 luk6 dak1 m4 dak1 haan4?
Meaning: “Are you free this Saturday?”

Omelia: 得閒呀。
Romanization: dak1 haan4 aa3.
Meaning: “Yup, I’m free.”

Keira: 去食brunch好唔好?
Romanization: heoi3 sik6 brunch hou2 m4 hou2?
Meaning: “Let’s meet up for brunch?”

Omelia: 好呀。幾點見?
Romanization: hou2 aa3. gei2 dim2 gin3?
Meaning: “Sure. When shall we meet?”

Keira: 十點?
Romanization: sap6 dim2?
Meaning: “Ten o’clock?”

Omelia: 好呀。
Romanization: hou2 aa3.
Meaning: “Sure.”

Keira: 咁我去book位喇。
Romanization: gam2 ngo5 heoi3 book wai2 laa3.
Meaning: “Then I’ll go ahead and make a reservation.”

Omelia: 好,拜拜。
Romanization: hou2, baai1 baai3.
Meaning: “Cool, bye.”

Keira: 拜拜。
Romanization: baai1 baai3.
Meaning: “Bye.”

Formal

Keira is now calling the restaurant to reserve a table:

Keira: 喂。
Romanization: wai2.
Meaning: “Hi.”

Restaurant manager: 喂。
Romanization: wai2.
Meaning: “Hi.”

Keira: 唔該我想訂枱。
Romanization: m4 goi1 ngo5 soeng2 deng6 toi2.
Meaning: “Excuse me, I want to book a table.”

Restaurant manager: 想book幾時? 
Romanization: seong2 book gei2 si4?
Meaning: “What time?”

Keira: 星期六朝早十點。
Romanization: sing1 kei4 luk6 ziu1 zou2 sap6 dim2.
Meaning: “10 a.m. Saturday.”

Restaurant manager:  OK,你嘅電話號碼係咩?
Romanization: ok, nei5 ge3 din6 waa2 hou6 maa5 hai6 me1?
Meaning: “Okay, what’s your phone number?”

Keira: 91234567。
Romanization: gau2 jat1 ji6 saam1 sei3 ng5 luk6 cat1.
Meaning: “91234567.”

Restaurant manager:  OK,到時見。
Romanization: ok, dou3 si4 gin3.
Meaning: “Okay, see you then.”

Keira: 唔該,拜拜。
Romanization: m4 goi1, baai1 baai3.
Meaning: “Thanks, bye.”

Restaurant manager: 拜拜。
Romanization: baai1 baai3.
Meaning: “Bye.”

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

How do you feel about making a phone call in Cantonese now? Are there any phrases or situations we missed? Let us know, and we’ll be glad to get back to you! 

Now that you’ve learned quite a number of Cantonese phone call phrases, are you interested in picking up even more Cantonese? Depending on your needs, you might enjoy our free vocabulary lists of Cantonese phrases for business or travel.

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

Start Strong with These Cantonese Words for Beginners

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There are over 10,000 Cantonese characters. Considering the vast number of ways these characters can be combined, it would be an understatement to say that this language has a lot of words! 

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

A Pencil and Plastic ABC Letters on Top of an Open Notebook

Feeling overwhelmed? Keep in mind that even native Cantonese speakers only know a fraction of these words! To start having conversations, you’ll only need a few hundred basic Cantonese words. 

In this article, we’ll list the most useful Cantonese words for beginners. Knowing these words 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. Pronouns
  2. Numbers
  3. Nouns
  4. Verbs
  5. Adjectives
  6. Conjunctions
  7. Bonus: Cantonese Final Particles
  8. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Pronouns

Let’s start with a list of pronouns you should learn as a beginner.

We’ve listed below the basic personal, demonstrative, and interrogative pronouns. As you continue forward in your studies, you’ll be adding a few more to your arsenal.


A Group of People

Personal Pronouns

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning

Singular:
1ngo5I
2nei5you
3keoi5he / she / it

*There are no differences between “he,” “she,” or “it” in Cantonese. You can use 佢  in each case.
4我嘅ngo5 ge3my / mine
5你嘅nei5 ge3your / yours
6佢嘅keoi5 ge3his / her / hers / its 

Plural:
7我哋ngo5 dei6we / us
8你哋nei5 dei6you guys
9佢哋keoi5 dei6they / them
10我哋嘅ngo5 dei6 ge3our / ours 
11你哋嘅nei5 dei6 ge3your / yours
12佢哋嘅keoi5 dei6 ge3their / theirs

Demonstrative Pronouns

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1呢個ni1 go3this
2嗰個go2 go3that
3呢啲ni1 di1these
4嗰啲go2 di1

Interrogative Pronouns

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1乜嘢mat1 je5what
2邊個bin1 go3who
3邊個嘅bin1 go3 ge3whose
4幾時gei2 si4when
5邊度bin1 dou6 where
6點樣dim2 joeng2how
7點解dim2 gaai2 why

2. Numbers

As a beginner, you should be able to get by using the numbers one through ten.

    → Should you need more digits, you could check out our article on Cantonese numbers. There, you’ll find everything you need to count from 1-100 and beyond!

A Calculator
  • 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)

3. Nouns

Nouns are vital in our everyday conversations and we need them for effective communication. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to talk about people, objects, places, or ideas. 

Below, you’ll find several basic Cantonese nouns divided into categories.

    → The more Cantonese nouns you know, the closer you’ll be to mastering the Cantonese language! If you want to learn more nouns, check out our top 100 Cantonese nouns list!

Noun

Time

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1星期sing1 kei4week
2nin4year
3今日gam1 jat6today
4聽日ting1 jat6tomorrow
5噚日cam4 jat6yesterday
6日曆jat6 lik6calendar
7miu5second
8zung1hour
9分鐘fan1 zung1minute
10dim2o’clock

People

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1媽媽maa4 maa1mother
2爸爸baa4 baa1father
3老婆lou5 po4wife
4老公lou5 gung1husband
5neoi2daughter
6zai2son
7醫生ji1 sang1doctor
8律師leot6 si1lawyer 
9護士wu6 si6nurse 
10經理ging1 lei5manager 

Places Around Town

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1便利店bin6 lei6 dim3convenience store
2藥房joek6 fong4drugstore
3商場soeng1 coeng4shopping mall
4超市ciu1 si5supermarket
5咖啡室gaa3 fe1 sat1coffee shop / cafe
6山頂saan1 deng2The Peak
7維港wai4 gong2Victoria Harbor
8星光大道sing1 gwong1 daai6 dou6Avenue of Stars
9海洋公園hoi2 joeng4 gung1 jyun2Ocean Park
10天壇大佛tin1 taan4 daai6 fat6Tian Tan Buddha

School/Office Essentials

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1作業zok3 jip6homework
2筆記簿bat1 gei3 bou2notebook
3同學tung4 hok6classmate
4大學daai6 hok6university
5背囊bui3 nong4backpack
6鉛筆jyun4 bat1pencil
7原子筆jyun4 zi2 bat1pen
8數學sou3 hok6math
9考試haau2 si3exam
10學生hok6 saang1student

Body Parts

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1goek3foot
2teoi2leg
3tau4head
4手臂sau2 bei3arm
5sau2hand
6手指sau2 zi2finger
7身體san1 tai2body
8tou5stomach
9背脊bui3 zek3back
10hung1chest

Food

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1水果seoi2 gwo2fruit
2蘋果ping4 gwo2apple
3香蕉hoeng1 ziu1banana
4西瓜sai1 gwaa1watermelon
5提子tai4 zi2grape
6菠蘿bo1 lo4pineapple
7蜜瓜mat6 gwaa1melon
8西柚sai1 jau2grapefruit
9蔬菜so1 coi3vegetable
10薯仔syu4 zai2potato
11粟米suk1 mai5corn
12大豆daai6 dau2soybean
13蕃薯faan1 syu2sweet potato
14紅蘿蔔hung4 lo4 baak6carrot
15洋葱joeng4 cung1onion
16胡椒wu4 ziu1peppers
17西蘭花sai1 laan4 faa1broccoli
18蕃茄faan1 ke2tomato
19蘑菇mo4 gu1mushroom
20腰果jiu1 gwo2cashew nut

4. Verbs

Below is a list of the 50 most useful Cantonese verbs for beginners. Of course, depending on whether you’re studying, working, or just visiting, you might have different needs. But in any case, this list is a good place to start!


Verb

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1去 heoi3go
2sik6eat
3jam2drink
4haan4walk
5ming4understand
6lam2think
7瞓覺fan3 gaau3sleep
8daap3answer
9ling1take
10做嘢zou6 je5work
11gong2talk
12tai2watch
13man6ask
14paau2run
15teng1hear
16waan2play
17認識jing6 sik1know
18bong1help
19鍾意zung6 ji3like
20sau1receive
21jung6use
22計劃gai3 waak6plan
23解釋gaai2 sik1explain
24tiu3jump
25gaau3teach
26maai5buy
27duk6read
28開始hoi1 ci2begin
29tek3 kick
30maai6sell
31離開lei4 hoi1leave 
32成為sing4 wai4become
33邀請jiu1 cing2invite
34se2write
35dang2wait
36hok6study
37分享fan1 hoeng2share
38daa2call
39記得gei3 dak1remember
40相信soeng1 seon3believe
41解決gaai2 kyut3solve
42介紹gaai3 siu6introduce
43取消ceoi2 siu1cancel
44dou3arrive
45coeng3sing
46siu3smile
47休息 jau1 sik1rest
48zyu2cook
49覺得gok3 dak1feel
50畫畫waat6 waa2draw

5. Adjectives

Another set of Cantonese beginner words you should study are basic adjectives. 

Adjectives are very important in our everyday conversations and in writing. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to describe how pretty the girl sitting next to you is or how spectacular the scenery is.


Adjective

Describing Objects

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1gou1  tall        
2dyun2 short  
3daai6big / huge
4fut3    wide
5coeng4 long
6厚 hau5thick
7sai3   small / little
8sau3 thin  
9sam1 deep        
10zaak3 narrow  

Describing People

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1勤力kan4 lik6diligent
2幽默jau1 mak6humorous
3誠實sing4 sat6honest
4有趣 jau5 ceoi3funny
5冷靜laang5 zing6calm
6怕醜paa3 cau2shy
7善良sin6 loeng4kind
8有活力jau5 wut6 lik6energetic
9親切can1 cit3friendly
10聰明cung1 ming4smart

Describing Emotions

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1不安bat1 on1anxious
2驕傲giu1 ou6proud
3gui6tired
4肚餓tou5 ngo6hungry
5baau2full
6開心hoi1 sam1happy
7傷心soeng1 sam1sad
8mun6bored
9nau1angry
10興奮hing1 fan5excited

Describing Weather

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1dung3cold
2jit6hot
3溫暖wan1 nyun5warm
4潮濕ciu4 sap1humid
5saai3sunny
6有風jau5 fung1windy
7天晴tin1 cing4sunny
8密雲mat6 wan4cloudy

6. Conjunctions

There’s a lot to say and explain when it comes to Cantonese conjunctions, but luckily, you don’t need many when you first start learning Cantonese.

→ As you progress in your studies, you might want to have a look at our complete guide on Cantonese conjunctions. You’ll learn everything about how to connect phrases, express conditions, talk about consequences, and much more.
Putting Two Puzzle Pieces Together

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationMeaning
1wo4and
2或者waak6 ze2or
3即使zik1 si2even if
4因為jan1 wai6since
5於是jyu1 si6so
6但係daan6 hai6but
7除非ceoi4 fei1 unless
8而且ji4 ce2also
9雖然seoi1 jin4although
10如果jyu4 gwo2if

7. Bonus: Cantonese Final Particles

In Cantonese we have a special type of word called final particles. Final particles are meaningless by themselves, but when placed at the end of a sentence, they indicate the mood or attitude of the speaker. They also serve to make speech more colloquial. Here are the top five Cantonese final particles:

#Chinese CharactersRomanizationFunction
1aa3Indicates enthusiasm and friendliness (usually in a softer tone); can also be used as a sarcastic retort
2laa3Indicates an exclamation with an emphasis on the past; “already”
3ge3Indicates humbleness or understanding; emphasis on raising the fact in a subtle way
4gaa3Emphasizes a fact that’s being raised
5lo1Indicates discontentment or sarcasm

    → Intrigued by how useful these “meaningless” final particles can be? Have a look at our full article here to see what other Cantonese final particles there are!

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

Ready to move on to the next level after learning all of these Cantonese beginner words? We recommend starting with our series of Cantonese beginner lessons: 

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!

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

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

Before you go: How many of these words did you know already? Were most of them new to you? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments!

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

Your Guide to Cantonese Filler Words

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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

Cantonese filler words have the potential to make or break a conversation, depending on when and how you use them. In this article, you’ll learn what the most common Cantonese filler words are and how to use them properly. Let’s dive in!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Filler Words Explained
  2. The Top 10 Cantonese Filler Words
  3. Pros and Cons of Filler Words
  4. Bonus: Cantonese Final Particles
  5. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Filler Words Explained

Before going through our list of Cantonese filler words, let’s talk more about what filler words are and why we use them in the first place. 

What are filler words?

In linguistics, filler words are sounds or words uttered in conversation to signal that the speaker needs time to think and is not yet finished speaking. Filler words are usually meaningless, and are also known as “fillers,” “filled pauses,” “hesitation markers,” or “planners.” Some common filler words in English are:

  • Hm
  • Ah
  • Er
  • Um
  • You know
  • Right
  • Like

In Cantonese, common examples are:

  • 即係 (zik1 hai6)
  • 呢 (ne1
  •  誒 (e6)

Why do we use them?

There are plenty of reasons we use filler words:

1 – They can make the speaker sound more polite.

Imagine that someone has asked for a favor or invited you to a party. If you were to say “no” immediately without any filler words, you would probably appear rude. It would be much more polite to say something like: “Um, well, you know, sorry. I don’t think I can go.” In this way, filler words play an important role in politeness.

2 – They can help listeners catch up when the speaker is elaborating on complicated issues.

When you’re speaking of complicated matters, your listeners may have trouble understanding the subject matter if you go too quickly. Sometimes we unconsciously use filler words to help the listeners process what we’re trying to say.

3 – They can buy you a minute to think.

Have you ever run out of words or had your mind go blank? When you need time to think of what to say or how to phrase it, you can use filler words to “fill” the time gap.

4 – They can signal to others that you have not finished your points yet.

When you hear the word “well,” you know that the speaker has not finished yet. We use filler words to let others know that we’re not done speaking, and that even if we’ve paused for a second, we have more to say.

5 – They can add emphasis.

We can use filler words to grab listeners’ attention or to emphasize something. You could say, for example: “You know, this will eventually hurt you and put you in danger.” The filler at the beginning would stress the importance of what you’re about to say.

2. The Top 10 Cantonese Filler Words

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.
A Square of Chocolate Sinking in Melted Chocolate

Who Doesn’t Want a Bite of Chocolate?

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.

6 – 咁呢 (gam2 ne1)

Function / Indication: “well” [indicates that you want to catch someone’s attention] (stronger than #5)

Example Dialogue

Person A:

  • Chinese: 咁呢我就投咗票啦,你呢?
  • Romanization: gam2 ne1 ngo5 zau6 tau4 zo2 piu3 laa3, nei5 ne1?
  • Meaning: Well, I have voted. How about you?

Person B:

  • Chinese: 我都投咗啦。
  • Romanization: ngo5 dou1 tau4 zo2 laa3.
  • Meaning: Me too.

7 – 嗯 (ng6)

Function / Indication: “understood” [indicates that you’re about to reply to what the other person’s saying; indicates you’re thinking]

Note: a short is a “yes”; a prolonged is a filler word

Example Dialogue

Person A:

  • Chinese: 我想睇戲。
  • Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 tai2 hei3.
  • Meaning: I want to go watch a movie.

Person B:

  • Chinese: 嗯,我睇吓聽日場次點。
  • Romanization: ng6, ngo5 tai2 haa5 ting1 jat6 coeng4 ci3 dim2.
  • Meaning: I will go check the tickets. 

8 – 哦 (o5)

Function / Indication: “okay,” “fine,” “I will take your word for it”

Example Dialogue

Person A:

  • Chinese: 我唔得閒呀。
  • Romanization: ngo5 m4 dak1 haan4 aa3.
  • Meaning: I am not free.

Person B:

  • Chinese: 哦,好啦,咁算啦。
  • Romanization: o5, hou2 laa1, gam2 syun3 laa1.
  • Meaning: Okay, never mind.

9 – 唉 (aai2)

Function / Indication: “alas” [indicates you’re sad]

Example Dialogue

Person A:

  • Chinese: 我失敗咗。
  • Romanization: ngo5 sat1 baai6 zo2.
  • Meaning: I failed.

Person B:

  • Chinese: 唉,點會咁㗎。
  • Romanization: aai2, dim2 wui5 gam2 gaa3.
  • Meaning: Alas, how could that possibly have happened.

10 – 呣 (m2)

Function / Indication: indicates that you’re unsure or indecisive about something

Example Dialogue

Person A:

  • Chinese: 我可唔可以做你女朋友?
  • Romanization: ngo5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 zou6 nei5 neoi5 pang4 jau5?
  • Meaning: Can I be your girlfriend?

Person B:

  • Chinese: 呣,我諗諗。
  • Romanization: m2, ngo5 lam2 lam2.
  • Meaning: I will think about it.

3. Pros and Cons of Filler Words

Now that you’ve learned the most common Cantonese filler words, how often should you use them and when is it appropriate? To answer these questions, let’s take a look at the pros and cons below. 

You can use filler words to sound like a local…

Thumbs-up

When you start using filler words, it will instantly increase how “authentic” you sound. Some people might not even realize it, but it will have an effect on how they perceive you and your speech. 

If you’ve attained a beginner or intermediate level of Cantonese, using fillers will make you sound a bit cooler and might boost your confidence. As an advanced learner, you’re getting one step closer to truly blending in; if your pronunciation is good enough, you could even start fooling your new local friends by sounding just like a native Cantonese speaker.


…but you shouldn’t overuse them.

Stop Hand Gesture

However, this is a double-edged sword. If you overdo it, it might make you sound too hesitant or less confident. If you’re being interviewed or presenting to your clients, constantly mumbling 誒 (e6) doesn’t make a good impression.

The rule of thumb is: Only use filler words when they’re needed.

4. Bonus: Cantonese Final Particles

In Cantonese, we have a special type of word that is similar to filler words: final particles. Final particles are also meaningless when used by themselves, but when placed at the end of a sentence or a question, they indicate the mood or attitude of the speaker and make the speech more colloquial. Here are the top 5 Cantonese final particles:

1 – 呀 (aa3)

Function / Indication: indicates enthusiasm and friendliness (usually in a softer tone), or a sarcastic retort 

Example Sentence

  • Chinese: 係我呀。
  • Romanization: hai6 ngo5 aa3.
  • Meaning: “It’s me.”

2 – 喇 (laa3)

Function / Indication: “already” [indicates an exclamation with an emphasis on the past]

Example Sentence

  • Chinese: 佢返咗屋企喇。
  • Romanization: keoi5 faan1 zo2 uk1 kei2 laa3.
  • Meaning: “He already got back home.”

3 – 嘅 (ge3)

Function / Indication: indicates humbleness or understanding; emphasis on raising the fact in a subtle way

Example Sentence

  • Chinese: 唔係是必要你講嘅。
  • Romanization: m4 hai6 si6 bit1 jiu3 nei5 gong2 ge3.
  • Meaning: “You are not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so.”

4 – 㗎 (gaa3)

Function / Indication: emphasis on a fact being raised

Example Sentence

  • Chinese: 得㗎。
  • Romanization: dak1 gaa3.
  • Meaning: “It can be done.”

5 – 囉 (lo1)

Function / Indication: indicates discontentment or sarcasm

Example Sentence

  • Chinese: 我錯囉。
  • Romanization: ngo5 co3 lo1.
  • Meaning: “Fine, I was wrong.”

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

Do you want to take your Cantonese to the next level after learning these Cantonese filler 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.

CantoneseClass101.com

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

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

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

Before you go, let us know in the comments which filler words are common in your native language. We look forward to hearing from you!

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

How to Say “I Love You,” in Cantonese

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Before a Date

Valentine’s Day

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

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

Are you free this weekend?

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

Would you like to hang out with me?

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

Would you like to go out to dinner with me?

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

I know a good place.

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

What time shall we meet tomorrow?

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

Where shall we meet?

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


2. On a Date

A Couple Having Dinner

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

You’re so handsome.

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

You’re so beautiful. 

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

You look great today.

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

That jacket looks nice on you.

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

You have a great sense of humor.

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

Your smile is beautiful.

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

You have good taste.

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

You have a way with words.

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

You are cute.

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


3. After a Date

A Cute Couple Looking into Each Other’s Eyes

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

That was a great evening.

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

I will drive you home.

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

What do you think of this place?

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

Can I see you again?

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

When can I see you again?

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

I’ll call you.

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

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

A Couple Being Intimate

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

I like you.

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

I love you.

Chinese Characters: 我愛你。
Romanization: ngo5 ngoi3 nei5

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

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

I miss you.

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

You made me a better person.

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


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

A Wedding

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

Let’s spend the rest of our lives together.

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

I want to grow old with you.

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

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

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

Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?

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

I want to be with you forever.

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

Will you marry me?

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

Having you by my side completes me.

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


6. Bonus: Endearment Terms and Love Quotes

A Lovely Kiss

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

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

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

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

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

Love is great….

1 – 人世間所有嘅相遇,都係久別重逢。

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

More about the quote

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

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

2 – 成世人流流長,總會愛上幾個人渣。

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

More about the quote

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

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

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

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

More about the quote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cantonese Negation: Learn How to Form Negative Sentences

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There seems to be a stigma attached to saying “no” nowadays. In certain cultures and social circles, it’s even considered rude or inappropriate to do so!

But contrary to popular belief, saying no is a powerful way to safeguard your emotional health. It shows that you take responsibility for yourself and that you respect your own desires, wishes, and emotions. Expressing negative statements or rejection appropriately is also vital to effective communication.

A Woman Holding Her Hands in Front of Her to Say No or Stop

Wondering how to express “no” and negate statements in Cantonese? In this article, we’ll guide you through the most important aspects of Cantonese negation so that you can start asserting yourself with confidence! 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Negate a Statement
  2. Give a Negative Response
  3. Other Negating Words and Phrases
  4. Double Negatives
  5. Bonus: How to Tell “Past”, “Present” and “Future” in Cantonese
  6. Why is CantoneseClass101 the Best Place to Learn Cantonese?

1. Negate a Statement

Cantonese negation is quite simple. Depending on the context—whether you’re referring to the past, present, or future—there are four main ways you can negate a sentence.

1 – Negating the past

To make a past-tense sentence negative in Cantonese, we add a character both before and after the verb. There are two sets of characters we can add to show negation:

The 1st Way

  • Chinese: 未 + verb + 過
  • Romanization: mei6 + verb + gwo3

Example 1: 

我未去過英國。
ngo5 mei6 heoi3 gwo3 jing1 gwok3
I have never been to the U.K.

Example 2: 

我未食過烏冬。
ngo5 mei6 sik6 gwo3 wu1 dung1
I have never had udon.

Udon

The 2nd Way:

  • Chinese: 冇 + verb + 過
  • Romanization: mou5 + verb + gwo3

Example 1: 

我冇試過嗰間餐廳。
ngo5 mou5 si3 gwo3 go2 gaan1 caan1 teng1
I have never tried that restaurant.

Example 2: 

我冇食過嘢。
ngo5 mou5 sik6 gwo3 je5
I didn’t eat.

There is a subtle difference between these two methods of Cantonese negation: The first method puts an emphasis on “never ever,” while the second one focuses on the “no” part. You may use either one to express negation in the past tense.

2 – Negating the present

To negate a sentence about the present, we just need to add a character for “no” or “negation,” in front of the verb. This character is 唔 (m4).

  • Chinese: 唔 + verb
  • Romanization: m4 + verb

Example 1: 

我唔識講普通話。
ngo5 m4 sik1 gong2 pou2 tung1 waa2
I don’t know how to speak Mandarin.

Example 2: 

我唔食蘋果。
ngo5 m4 sik6 ping4 gwo2
I don’t eat apple.

3 – Negating the future

To negate a sentence about the future, we add 唔會 (m4 wui5) in front of the verb. 

  • Chinese: 唔會 + verb
  • Romanization: m4 wui5 + verb

Example 1:

 我之後唔會繼續讀書喇。
ngo5 zi1 hau6 m4 wui5 gai3 zuk6 duk6 syu1 laa3
I will not pursue my studies.

Example 2: 

我唔會返屋企。
ngo5 m4 wui5 faan1 uk1 kei2
I am not going back home.

2. Give a Negative Response

We also use the character 唔 (m4) to give negative responses to questions. We simply put 唔 before the verb.

  • Chinese: 唔 + verb
  • Romanization: m4 + verb

For example, the Cantonese equivalent for “No, it isn’t,” is 唔係 (m4 hai6). Here, 唔 is “no” and 係 is “be.”

Question: 

你係唔係Mary啊?
nei5 hai6 m4 hai6 Mary aa3
Are you Mary?

Answer: 

唔係。
m4 hai6
No, I am not.

A Group Conversation

Let’s take a look at one more example. The Cantonese equivalent of “No, I don’t want it,” is 唔想 (m4 soeng2). Here, 唔 is “no” and 想 is “want.”

Question: 

你想唔想食麵啊?
nei5 soeng2 m4 soeng2 sik6 min6 aa3
Do you want to get noodles?

Answer: 

唔想。
m4 soeng2
No, I don’t want to.

3. Other Negating Words and Phrases

Of course, there are some other words and phrases used for negation in Cantonese. Feel free to try using these as well to liven up your conversations, to make a point clearer, or to give a stronger negative response.

1. 好少

  • Romanization: hou2 siu2
  • Meaning: barely / hardly / seldom

Example:

我返學好少遲到。
ngo5 faan1 hok6 hou2 siu2 ci4 dou3
I seldom go to school late.

2. 從來唔

  • Romanization: cung4 loi4 m4
  • Meaning: never

Example:

我從來唔飲酒。
ngo5 cung4 loi4 m4 jam2 zau2
I don’t drink. / I never drink.

3. 無再

  • Romanization: mou3 zoi3
  • Meaning: no more / not anymore

Example:

我哋無再聯絡喇。
ngo5 dei6 mou3 zoi3 lyun4 lok3 laa3
We don’t talk anymore.

An Exclamation Mark

4. 唔會再

  • Romanization: m4 wui5 zoi3
  • Meaning: no longer

Example:

佢唔會再喺你身邊。
keoi5 m4 wui5 zoi3 hai2 nei5 san1 bin1
He will no longer be there for you.

5. 冇人

  • Romanization: mou5 jan4
  • Meaning: no one / nobody

Example:

嗰度偏僻冇人住。
go2 dou6 pin1 pik1 mou5 jan4 zyu6
No one lives there; it’s too far away.

6. 都唔係

  • Romanization: dou1 m4 hai6
  • Meaning: neither

Example:

呢個都唔係我嘅錯。
ni1 go3 dou1 m4 hai6 ngo5 ge3 co3
Neither is it my fault.

4. Double Negatives

Cantonese also has double negatives. We add the characters 唔係唔 (m4 hai6 m4) in front of the verb.

  • Chinese: 唔係唔 + verb
  • Romanization: m4 hai6 m4 + verb

Example 1: 

唔係唔想覆,而係對覆訊息有恐懼。
m4 hai6 m4 soeng2 fuk1, ji4 hai6 deoi3 fuk1 seon3 sik1 jau5 hung2 geoi6
It’s not that I don’t want to reply (to you), it’s more like I’m scared about messages and alerts in general.

Example 2: 

唔係唔想覆你電話,係未有時間呀。
m4 hai6 m4 soeng2 fuk1 nei5 din6 waa2, hai6 mei6 jau5 si4 gaan3 aa3
It’s not that I don’t want to call back, I just don’t have the time yet.

5. Bonus: How to Tell “Past”, “Present” and “Future” in Cantonese

We negate a sentence differently based on the time we’re referring to—but how can you tell whether a sentence is “past,” “present,” or “future” in Cantonese?

Unlike in English, there is no such concept as “tenses” or verb conjugation in Cantonese. Instead, we use additional words to indicate the time of an event or action when necessary.

A Clock

Keep in mind, however, that these additional words aren’t always necessary. We can usually tell whether an event happened in the past, present, or future from the context. 

Let’s take a look at a few of these words: 

Indicating “the past”:

  • Additional words to be placed after the verb to indicate the past:
    • 咗 (zo2) – have done
    • 過 (gwo3) – tried
    • 完 (jyun4) – did
    • 曬 (saai3) – completed
  • Additional words to be placed at the beginning of a sentence or right after the subject:
    • 啱啱 (aam1 aam1) – just now
    • 頭先 (tau4 sin1) – a moment ago
    • 前排 (cin4 paai2) – a while back
    • 幾個禮拜之前 (gei2 go3 lai5 baai3 zi1 cin4) – a few weeks ago
    • 上個月 (soeng6 go3 jyut6) – last month
    • 舊年 (gau6 nin2) – last year

Indicating “the present” / “the present continuous”:

  • Additional word to be placed before the verb to indicate the present:
    • 喺度 (hai2 dou6) – be / doing
  • Additional words to be placed after the verb to indicate the present:
    • 緊 (gan2) – in progress
    • 住 (zyu6) – doing
  • Additional word to be placed at the beginning of a sentence or right after the subject:
    • 而家 (ji4 gaa1) – now

Indicating “the future”:

  • Additional word to be placed before the verb to indicate the future:
    • 會 (wui5) – will
  • Additional words to be placed at the beginning of a sentence or right after the subject:
    • 到時 (dou3 si4) – then
    • 陣間 (zan6 gaan1) – later
    • 跟住 (gan1 zyu6) – and then
    • 之後 (zi1 hau6) after
    • 聽日 (ting1 jat6) – tomorrow
    • 後日 (hau6 jat6) – the day after tomorrow
    • 下個禮拜 (haa6 go3 lai5 baai3) – next week
    • 下個月 (haa6 go3 jyut6) – next month
    • 出年 (ceot1 nin2) – next year

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

CantoneseClass101.com

Learning how to say no is just one part of learning a language—there’s so much more to study and practice! 

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

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

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

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

Before you go, we’d love to hear from you! What did you think of this lesson, and did we help you gain the confidence to say no in Cantonese? 

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

Are There Tenses in Cantonese?

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Depending on how long you’ve been learning Cantonese, you may already have an idea of how simple Cantonese grammar is. You may have even heard that Cantonese is “tenseless.”

A Sand Glass

But if that’s the case, how does one express the past, present, or future? In this article, CantoneseClass101.com will cover everything you need to know about expressing the different tenses in Cantonese—it’s easier than you think!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Cantonese “Tenses”
  2. How to Express the Past
  3. How to Express the Present
  4. How to Express the Future
  5. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Cantonese “Tenses”

A Signpost with Signs for Now, Tomorrow, and Yesterday

Cantonese is considered a tenseless language. In contrast to European languages like English or French, it has neither conjugation nor the concept of tenses. We don’t modify verbs to express the timing of an action; 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. 

2. How to Express the Past

Below, you’ll find different words you can use to express the past tense in Cantonese along with examples.

Ancient Civilization

 1 – Word(s) to be placed before the verb

  • 有 (jau5) – did
    • Example sentence: 我有返學。
    • Romanization: ngo5 jau5 faan1 hok6.
    • Meaning: I did go to school.

Note: We use the word “有” the same way we use the word “did” in Englishwe add it in front of the verb to add emphasis to it.

2 – Word(s) to be placed after the verb

  • 咗 (zo2) – have done
    • Example sentence: 我同朋友一齊喺戲院睇咗場戲。
    • Romanization: ngo5 tung4 pang4 jau5 jat1 cai4 hai2 hei3 jyun2 tai2 zo2 coeng4 hei3.
    • Meaning: I have watched a movie at the cinema with my friends.
  • 過 (gwo3) – tried
    • Example sentence: 試過但係失敗咗。
    • Romanization: si3 gwo3 daan6 hai6 sat1 baai6 zo2.
    • Meaning: (I) tried but failed.
  • 完 (jyun4) – did
    • Example sentence: 我做完功課喇。
    • Romanization: ngo5 zou6 jyun4 gung1 fo3 laa3.
    • Meaning: I finished my homework.
  • 晒 (saai3) – completed
    • Example sentence: 我做晒啲嘢喇。
    • Romanization: ngo5 zou6 saai3 di1 je5 laa3.
    • Meaning: I completed all my work.

Note: “完” and “晒” are quite similarand in the examples above, they are interchangeable. You could say “我做晒功課喇” or  “我做完啲嘢喇.” The subtle difference between the two is that we tend to use “完” to emphasize the completion/end of something, whereas we use “晒” to imply the effort involved in finishing the work.

3 – Word(s) to be placed at the beginning of the sentence or right after the subject

Each of the following words can be placed either at the beginning of a sentence or after the subject. For example, for the first word below (啱啱), you could say “我啱啱同朋友一齊喺戲院睇戲” or “啱啱我同朋友一齊喺戲院睇戲.” They are the same.

  • 啱啱 (aam1 aam1) – just now
    • Example sentence: 我啱啱同朋友一齊喺戲院睇戲。
    • Romanization: ngo5 aam1 aam1 tung4 pang4 jau5 jat1 cai4 hai2 hei3 jyun2 tai2 hei3.
    • Meaning: My friend and I went to the cinema for movies just now.
  • 頭先 (tau4 sin1) – just now
    • Example sentence: 頭先唔小心撞到你,唔好意思。
    • Romanization: tau4 sin1 m4 siu2 sam1 zong6 dou2 nei5, m4 hou2 ji3 si3.
    • Meaning: Sorry for hitting you just now.

Note: “啱啱” and “頭先” are the same and can be used interchangeably.

  • 前排 (cin4 paai2) – a while back
    • Example sentence: 前排我識咗個好有趣嘅人。
    • Romanization: cin4 paai2 ngo5 sik1 zo2 go3 hou2 jau5 ceoi3 ge3 jan4.
    • Meaning: I met an interesting person a while back.
  • 以前 (ji5 cin4) – before
    • Example sentence: 我以前見過你。
    • Romanization: ngo5 ji5 cin4 gin3 gwo3 nei5. 
    • Meaning: I saw you (before).
  • 之前 (zi1 cin4) – before
    • Example sentence: 我之前喺度做野。
    • Romanization: ngo5 zi1 cin4 hai2 dou6 zou6 je5. 
    • Meaning: I used to work here (before).

Note: “以前” and “之前” are similar and they both mean “before.” The subtle difference between the two is that “以前” usually refers to things that happened years ago, while “之前” tends to be about things that happened a few weeks/months ago.

  • 幾個禮拜之前 (gei2 go3 lai5 baai3 zi1 cin4) – a few weeks ago
    • Example sentence: 幾個禮拜之前我同一位網上紅人食晚飯。
    • Romanization: gei2 go3 lai5 baai3 zi1 cin4 ngo5 tung4 jat1 wai2 mong5 soeng6 hung4 jan4 sik6 maan5 faan6.
    • Meaning: I had dinner with an Internet celebrity a few weeks ago.
  • 上個月 (soeng6 go3 jyut6) – last month
    • Example sentence: 我上個月考咗英文能力檢定試。
    • Romanization: ngo5 soeng6 go3 jyut6 haau2 zo2 jing1 man4 nang4 lik6 gim2 ding6 si3.
    • Meaning: I took an English proficiency test last month.
  • 舊年 (gau6 nin2) – last year
    • Example sentence: 我舊年去咗加拿大。
    • Romanization: ngo5 gau6 nin2 heoi3 zo2 gaa1 naa4 daai6.
    • Meaning: I went to Canada last year.

3. How to Express the Present

And now it’s time to learn how to express the present in Cantonese. There are four words in total that are used to represent “present,” so read on to find out what they are and how to use them!

A Man Pointing to His Wristwatch

1 – Word(s) to be placed before the verb

  • 喺度 (hai2 dou6) – be / doing
    • Example sentence: 喺度諗緊咩呀?
    • Romanization: hai2 dou6 nam2 gan2 me1 aa3?
    • Meaning: What are you thinking about?

2 – Word(s) to be placed after the verb

  • 緊 (gan2) – in progress
    • Example sentence: 我等緊你。
    • Romanization: ngo5 dang2 gan2 nei5.
    • Meaning: I am waiting (for you).
  • 住 (zyu6) – doing
    • Example sentence: 佢攞住個咪唱歌
    • Romanization: keoi5 lo2 zyu6 go3 mai1 coeng3 go1.
    • Meaning: He is singing while holding a mic.

3 – Word(s) to be placed at the beginning of the sentence or right after the subject

  • 而家 (ji4 gaa1) – now
    • Example sentence: 你而家去邊?
    • Romanization: nei5 ji4 gaa1 heoi3 bin1?
    • Meaning: Where are you going now?

4. How to Express the Future

Last but not least, let’s learn how to express the future in Cantonese.

A Group of Children

1 – Word(s) to be placed before the verb

  • 會 (wui5) – will
    • Example sentence: 今個禮拜六我哋會結婚。
    • Romanization: gam1 go3 lai5 baai3 luk6 ngo5 dei6 wui5 git3 fan1.
    • Meaning: We will get married this Saturday.

2 – Word(s) to be placed at the beginning of the sentence or right after the subject

  • 到時 (dou3 si4) – then
    • Example sentence: 到時再講。
    • Romanization: dou3 si4 zoi3 gong2.
    • Meaning: (We) will talk then.
  • 陣間 (zan6 gaan1) – later
    • Example sentence: 陣間去邊食飯好?
    • Romanization: zan6 gaan1 heoi3 bin1 sik6 faan6 hou2?
    • Meaning: Where shall we go for lunch?
  • 跟住 (gan1 zyu6) – and then
    • Example sentence: 司機,唔該先去旺角,跟住去油麻地。
    • Romanization: si1 gei1, m4 goi1 sin1 heoi3 wong6 gok3, gan1 zyu6 heoi3 jau4 maa4 dei2.
    • Meaning: Mr. Driver, please first go to Mongkok and then to Yau Ma Tei.
  • 之後 (zi1 hau6) – after
    • Example sentence: 聽日之後就要走。
    • Romanization: ting1 jat6 zi1 hau6 zau6 jiu3 zau2.
    • Meaning: (I) will have to leave after tomorrow.
  • 聽日 (ting1 jat6) – tomorrow
    • Example sentence: 聽日又到星期一要返工。
    • Romanization: ting1 jat6 jau6 dou3 sing1 kei4 jat1 jiu3 faan1 gung1.
    • Meaning: Tomorrow is Monday and we gotta go to work again.
  • 後日 (hau6 jat6) – the day after tomorrow
    • Example sentence: 我後日會同朋友出去玩。
    • Romanization: ngo5 hau6 jat6 wui5 tung4 pang4 jau5 ceot1 heoi3 waan2.
    • Meaning: I will be hanging out with friends the day after tomorrow.
  • 下個禮拜 (haa6 go3 lai5 baai3) – next week
    • Example sentence: 下個禮拜就端午節喇。
    • Romanization: haa6 go3 lai5 baai3 zau6 dyun1 ng5 zit3 laa3.
    • Meaning: It’s Mid-Autumn Festival next week.
  • 下個月 (haa6 go3 jyut6) – next month
    • Example sentence: 我下個月會去英國。
    • Romanization: ngo5 haa6 go3 jyut6 wui5 heoi3 jing1 gwok3.
    • Meaning: I will be going to the UK next month.
  • 出年 (ceot1 nin2) – next year
    • Example sentence: 出年我就十八歲喇。
    • Romanization: ceot1 nin2 ngo5 zau6 sap6 baat3 seoi3 laa3.
    • Meaning: I will be eighteen next year.

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

Fascinated by the Cantonese language and want to learn more? 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 lessons, and start learning now!

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

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

Before you go, let us know in the comments how you feel about expressing tenses in Cantonese now. More confident, or do you still have some questions? We’ll do our best to help.

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

How Long Does it Take to Learn Cantonese?

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Some of you might have heard about how difficult it is to learn Cantonese. After all, Cantonese is a tonal language with its own writing system based on thousands of Chinese characters

Do you fancy to learn Cantonese but want to get a rough idea of how long it’s gonna take? Or maybe you’ve already passed the beginner stage and would like to see how your progress compares to that of your peers?

A Timer

Today at CantoneseClass101, we’ll answer the question: How long does it take to learn Cantonese? 

Our answers will be based on the three levels of Cantonese proficiency: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. This will give you a rough idea of what to expect throughout your Cantonese learning journey and serve as a benchmark. 

Let’s get to it!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. The Many Factors Involved
  2. How Long Does it Take to Achieve a Beginner Level?
  3. How Long Does it Take to Achieve an Intermediate Level?
  4. How Long Does it Take to Achieve an Advanced Level?
  5. Tools to Facilitate Your Language Learning Journey
  6. Why is CantoneseClass101 Great for Learning Cantonese?

1. The Many Factors Involved

Before we talk about how long it will take to reach each level, there are a few key factors we need to consider. They’ll impact how fast you can learn Cantonese, so keep them in mind when coming up with your own estimate!

Cantonese vs. the languages you know

Cantonese is quite different from most languages. For one, it’s a tonal language that relies on pitches to distinguish between words. It also uses a completely different writing system than English does. Cantonese uses characters that are composed of parts that depict physical objects or abstract ideas—there are thousands of characters and each one carries a sound and a meaning. 

If you know Mandarin, which is also a tonal language that uses characters, chances are that you’ll pick Cantonese up much faster!

Your motivation

How much time and effort you’re willing to spend makes a huge difference. Are you learning Cantonese because of your partner? Or are you a big fan of Cantonese movies? Having a goal or a strong reason will help you strive for success and overcome any hurdles along the way!

Your language learning resumé & age

A Resume

It’s not easy to learn a new language, but having previous experience will speed up your progress. This is because you’ll already know how and where to start! Also, the more languages you’re exposed to, the easier it gets to decipher their logic and understand the inner workings of their grammar and structures.

Of course, age matters too. It’s easier to memorize new words and rules while you’re young. Studies have found that language-learning ability declines at age 18. The sooner you learn a language, the better!

Are you planning to learn the Chinese characters too?

Chinese characters are logograms. Each Chinese character is unique with its own pronunciation, and you’ll need to memorize 2000-3000 of them to read a newspaper. It does take a bit of time to recognize how the characters look and how to write them. 

If you only want to learn how to speak Cantonese, you might want to consider studying only the romanization (i.e. the jyutping system) and bypass the learning of Chinese characters. This will speed up the learning curve a lot.

2. How Long Does it Take to Achieve a Beginner Level?

A Baby with Some Books

Beginner-Level Skills

  • CEFR Equivalent: A1-A2

Speaking & Listening

You should be able to conduct basic and simple conversations (self-introductions, asking for directions, ordering food) and know some survival Cantonese.

Reading & Writing

At this level, you will only need to know some jyutping.

Duration

So how long will it take to learn Cantonese if you only want to achieve this level? Assuming you spend at least an hour per day studying…

  • Average: 2-3 months 
  • If you know Mandarin: 2 months or even less

Tips

The most important thing for Cantonese beginners is to accumulate vocabulary. So, make good use of flashcards! You can use them to remember words, simple phrases, and anything else you want. A simple search for “flashcards” on your phone’s app store should give you plenty of options.

Another tip is to learn the romanization system. Literacy in Cantonese requires the memorization of thousands of components and characters, which can be 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) is the perfect place to start. This is essentially a way to help translate Cantonese pronunciation into English pronunciation. 

With the romanization system, you’ll be able to learn the correct pronunciation of a word easily. No guessing and no Chinese characters needed!

3. How Long Does it Take to Achieve an Intermediate Level?

Middle School Students

Intermediate-Level Skills

  • CEFR Equivalent: B1

Speaking & Listening

At the intermediate level, you should be able to…

  • …articulate more complex thoughts.
  • …use different sentence patterns to some degree.
  • …handle short conversations or discussions with locals.
  • …pronounce words more accurately (not mixing up the 9 tones!).

Reading & Writing

Your reading and writing skills will still be quite limited, though you’ll be more familiar with how jyutping works. 

Duration

Assuming you spend at least an hour per day studying, here’s how long it might take you to reach intermediate-level Cantonese. 

  • Average: 6 months 
  • If you know Mandarin: 3-4 months

Tips

The crucial element required to reach an intermediate level is “practice.” 

By now, you should have accumulated some additional vocabulary, phrases, and even sentence patterns. You’ll need to practice speaking more so that you can put all of that knowledge to good use! Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, and start chatting with local friends! If you don’t have Cantonese-speaking friends, you could try finding study partners online or an online coach. Through making mistakes, you’ll figure out where and what you should improve.

4. How Long Does it Take to Achieve an Advanced Level?

A Group of Adults in Discussion

Advanced-Level Skills

  • CEFR Equivalent: C1

Speaking & Listening

Upon reaching an advanced level of Cantonese, you should be able to…

  • …converse with locals with ease.
  • …give fluent speeches.

Reading & Writing

Being an advanced Cantonese student means that you can recognize roughly 2000-3000 Chinese characters in addition to the jyutping. This will allow you to read newspapers and other short, simple texts. 

Duration

So how long would it take to learn Cantonese to this level of fluency? Assuming you spend at least an hour per day studying…

  • Average: 1-3 years**
  • If you know Mandarin: 6-12 months

** Learning the language takes 1-2 years on average for those who ignore the Chinese characters and focus solely on speaking. If you decide to pick up the Chinese characters as well and want to read a newspaper, the average time needed is 3 years.

Tips

Deep immersion (like living in a Cantonese-speaking region) is the ideal path for reaching the advanced level. Through daily usage and conversation, you’ll learn the various ways to articulate ideas in Cantonese—not just through textbook examples, but also through local slang terms and idioms. Make local friends, speak the local language, and experience life locally!

If staying in a Cantonese-speaking city is not an option, why not watch Cantonese movies and TV shows? This would be a fun way to learn the language, plus it can teach you more about the local culture!

5. Tools to Facilitate Your Language Learning Journey

Wondering how to learn Cantonese faster? While effort and time count, there are also some tools you can use to smoothen your path and speed up your progress! 

Online lessons

When it comes to learning a language anywhere and anytime, online classes are your bread and butter. They’re usually fit for any level and are much more affordable than schools or private lessons.

For example, you can watch and listen to over a thousand videos and audio lessons from CantoneseClass101 through our mobile app, desktop software, or website.

CantoneseClass101.com

Private schools and teachers 

Private schools and teachers are usually the most effective resources, as they can tailor the course just for you—but they’re also the most expensive. We would suggest carefully reading feedback and reviews from students before committing to anything. Stay away from courses with too many students per teacher and beware of scams!

Immersion

Immigration Entry Card

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!

Why is CantoneseClass101 Great for Learning Cantonese?

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

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

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

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

Before you go, let us know in the comments if you feel ready to start learning Cantonese after reading this article. And if you already know some Cantonese, please share with fellow learners how long it took you to get where you are. We look forward to hearing from you!

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