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Complete Guide of Cantonese Conjunctions and Connecting Words

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Conjunctive adverbs are a crucial part of every language. They allow us to connect our thoughts, make comparisons, and string together sentences. There are various Cantonese conjunctions you can choose from to formulate your ideas. Trust us when we say that learning Cantonese conjunctions is one of the best things you’ll ever do for your language-learning!

Without further ado, let’s go through Cantonese conjunctions in detail below!

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Table of Contents

  1. Cantonese Conjunction Overview
  2. Conjunctions to Correlate Similar Thoughts (And)
  3. Conjunctions to Express Condition (If)
  4. Conjunctions to Express Causality (So)
  5. Conjunctions to Express Opposition (But)
  6. Conjunctions to Express Purpose (So that)
  7. Conjunctions to Express Progression (Not only)
  8. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese


1. Cantonese Conjunction Overview

Sentence Patterns

“Conjunction” is 連接詞 (lin4 zip3 ci4) in Cantonese.

A conjunction, in grammar, is a part of speech that connects words, phrases, or clauses. It helps us to express our ideas and thoughts in a more coherent way. Like “but,” “and,” “so,” and “because” in English, there are specific words used to connect our thoughts in Cantonese. Below we have classified the Cantonese conjunctions into several categories based on their purposes and meanings.


2. Conjunctions to Correlate Similar Thoughts (And)

Connect

1- 和

Meaning: And
Romanization: wo4
Usage: Formal; usually used only in writing; interchangeable with 跟 and 與

  • Example Sentence: 我和Ron是好朋友。
  • Romanization: ngo5 wo4 “Ron” si6 hou2 pang4 jau5
  • Meaning: Ron and I are good friends.

2- 跟

Meaning: And
Romanization: gan1
Usage: Formal; usually used only in writing; interchangeable with 和 and 與

  • Example Sentence: 我跟Hermione是同學。
  • Romanization: ngo5 gan1 “Hermione” si6 tung4 hok6
  • Meaning: Hermione and I are classmates.

3- 與

Meaning: And
Romanization: jyu5
Usage: Formal; usually used only in writing; interchangeable with 和 and 跟

  • Example Sentence: 我與Tom是敵人。
  • Romanization: ngo5 jyu5 “Tom” si6 dik6 jan4
  • Meaning: Tom and I are enemies.

4- 及

Meaning: And
Romanization: kap6
Usage: Formal; usually used only in writing; unlike the more universal “and”s introduced above, we seldom use 及 with pronouns

  • Example Sentence: 我喜歡艾迪瑞德曼祖迪羅
  • Romanization: ngo5 hei2 fun1 ngaai6 dik6 seoi6 dak1 maan6 kap6 zou2 dik6 lo4
  • Meaning: I like Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law.

5- 同

Meaning: And
Romanization: tung4
Usage: Informal; more common in spoken Cantonese

  • Example Sentence: 今晚我同Hagrid食飯。
  • Romanization: gam1 maan5 ngo5 tung4 “Hagrid” sik6 faan6
  • Meaning: I will be having dinner with Hagrid tonight.

6- 或

Meaning: Or
Romanization: waak6
Usage: More common in written Cantonese

  • Example Sentence: 她希望和Ron或Viktor跳舞。
  • Romanization: taa1 hei1 mong6 wo4 “Ron” waak6 “Viktor” tiu3 mou5
  • Meaning: She is hoping to dance with Ron or Viktor.

7- 或者

Meaning: Or
Romanization: waak6 ze2
Usage: Can be used in both written and spoken Cantonese

  • Example Sentence (in Written Cantonese): 她可能被分到葛來分多、史萊哲林、雷文克勞或者赫夫帕夫。
  • Romanization: taa1 ho2 nang4 bei6 fan1 dou3 got3 loi4 fan1 do1, si2 loi4 zit3 lam4, leoi4 man4 hak1 lou4 waak6 ze2 hak1 fu1 paak3 fu1
  • Meaning: She might be assigned to Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, or Hufflepuff.

8- 還是

Meaning: Or
Romanization: waan4 si6
Usage: More common in written Cantonese

  • Example Sentence: 你喜歡Ginny還是Cho?
  • Romanization: nei5 hei2 fun1 “Ginny” waan4 si6 “Cho”
  • Meaning: Do you like Ginny or Cho?


3. Conjunctions to Express Condition (If)

1- 除非

Meaning: Unless
Romanization: ceoi4 fei1
Usage: Can be used in both written and spoken Cantonese

  • Example Sentence (in Written Cantonese): 除非你來,否則我是不會去的。
  • Romanization: ceoi4 fei1 nei5 loi4, fau2 zak1 ngo5 si6 bat1 wui5 heoi3 dik1
  • Meaning: I am not going unless you come with me.

2- 如果

Meaning: If
Romanization: jyu4 gwo2
Usage: Can be used in both written and spoken Cantonese

  • Example Sentence (in Written Cantonese): 如果Harry是“那個活下來的女孩”,結果會是甚麼?
  • Romanization: jyu4 gwo2 “Harry” si6 “naa5 go3 wut6 haa6 loi4 dik1 neoi5 haai4 ”, git3 gwo2 wui5 si6 sam6 mo1
  • Meaning: What would happen if Harry is “the girl who lived?”

3- 即使

Meaning: Even if
Romanization: zik1 si2
Usage: Can be used in both written and spoken Cantonese

  • Example Sentence (in Written Cantonese): 即使下雨我也要去。
  • Romanization: zik1 si2 haa6 jyu5 ngo5 jaa5 jiu3 heoi3
  • Meaning: I will still go even if it rains.

4- 只要

Meaning: If only
Romanization: zi2 jiu3
Usage: Can be used in both written and spoken Cantonese

  • Example Sentence (in Written Cantonese): 只要永不放棄就能成功。
  • Romanization: zi2 jiu3 wing5 bat1 fong3 hei3 zau6 nang4 sing4 gung1
  • Meaning: We can succeed if only we don’t give up.


4. Conjunctions to Express Causality (So)

Question Mark

1- 因為

Meaning: Since
Romanization: jan1 wai6
Usage: Can be used in both written and spoken Cantonese; interchangeable with 由於

  • Example Sentence (in Written Cantonese): Vincent和Gregory因為肚餓吃了蛋糕。
  • Romanization: “Vincent” wo4 “Gregory” jan1 wai6 tou5 ngo6 hek3 liu5 daan2 gou1
  • Meaning: Vincent and Gregory ate the cakes since they were hungry.

2- 由於

Meaning: Since
Romanization: jau4 jyu1
Usage: Can be used in both written and spoken Cantonese; interchangeable with 因為

  • Example Sentence (in Written Cantonese): 由於他身體不好,所以不能上課。
  • Romanization: jau4 jyu1 taa1 san1 tai2 bat1 hou2, so2 ji5 bat1 nang4 soeng5 fo3
  • Meaning: He can’t make it to school since he’s ill.

3- 因此

Meaning: So
Romanization: jan1 ci2
Usage: Can be used in both written and spoken Cantonese

  • Example Sentence (in Written Cantonese): 情人節快到了,因此很多人買禮物。
  • Romanization: cing4 jan4 zit3 faai3 dou3 liu5, jan1 ci2 han2 do1 jan4 maai5 lai5 mat6
  • Meaning: Valentine’s Day is approaching, so a lot of people have bought presents.

4- 於是

Meaning: So
Romanization: jyu1 si6
Usage: Can be used in both written and spoken Cantonese

  • Example Sentence (in Written Cantonese): 他沒有準時出現,於是我們決定先出發。
  • Romanization: taa1 mut6 jau5 zeon2 si4 ceot1 jin6, jyu1 si6 ngo5 mun4 kyut3 ding6 sin1 ceot1 faat3
  • Meaning: He didn’t arrive on time, so we decided to head out first.


5. Conjunctions to Express Opposition (But)

A Woman Holding Her Mouth

1- 但是

Meaning: But
Romanization: daan6 si6
Usage: More common in written Cantonese; interchangeable with 可是

  • Example Sentence: 我想看電視,但是還沒有寫完作業。
  • Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 hon3 din6 si6, daan6 si6 waan4 mut6 jau5 se2 jyun4 zok3 jip6
  • Meaning: I want to watch TV, but I haven’t finished my homework.

2- 可是

Meaning: But
Romanization: ho2 si6
Usage: More common in written Cantonese; interchangeable with 但是

  • Example Sentence: 我跟Severus不熟,可是他一直針對我。
  • Romanization: ngo5 gan1 “Severus” bat1 suk6, ho2 si6 taa1 jat1 zik6 zam1 deoi3 ngo5
  • Meaning: I don’t know Severus well, but he has been picking on me.

3- 但係

Meaning: But
Romanization: daan6 hai6
Usage: Can be used in spoken Cantonese only

  • Example Sentence: 但係好貴喎。
  • Romanization: daan6 hai6 hou2 gwai3 wo3
  • Meaning: But that’s expensive.

4- 不過

Meaning: But
Romanization: bat1 gwo3
Usage: Can be used in both written and spoken Cantonese

  • Example Sentence (in Spoken Cantonese): 個手術好成功,不過病人未醒。
  • Romanization: go3 sau2 seot6 hou2 sing4 gung1, bat1 gwo3 beng6 jan4 mei6 seng2
  • Meaning: The surgery was successful, but the patient is still unconscious.

5- 雖然

Meaning: Although
Romanization: seoi1 jin4
Usage: Can be used in both written and spoken Cantonese

  • Example Sentence (in Written Cantonese): 他雖然年紀小,但是跑步卻很快。
  • Romanization: taa1 seoi1 jin4 nin4 gei2 siu2, daan6 si6 paau2 bou6 koek3 han2 faai3
  • Meaning: Although he is young, he runs fast.

Note: As opposed to English, it’s common to use both “although” and “but” in Cantonese, as demonstrated in the example sentence.


6. Conjunctions to Express Purpose (So that)

Improve Listening

1- 以

Meaning: So as to
Romanization: ji5
Usage: Can be used in both written and spoken Cantonese

  • Example Sentence (in Written Cantonese): 他正在積蓄金錢以備晚年。
  • Romanization: taa1 zing3 zoi6 zik1 cuk1 gam1 cin4 ji5 bei6 maan5 nin4
  • Meaning: He is saving up so as to prepare for retirement.

2- 為了

Meaning: To
Romanization: wai4 liu5
Usage: Can be used in both written and spoken Cantonese

  • Example Sentence (in Written Cantonese): 他積極準備是為了順利地通過考試。
  • Romanization: taa1 zik1 gik6 zeon2 bei6 si6 wai4 liu5 seon6 lei6 dei6 tung1 gwo3 haau2 si3
  • Meaning: He is working hard to pass the exam.


7. Conjunctions to Express Progression (Not only)

“Plus” Sign

1- 不但

Meaning: Not only
Romanization: bat1 daan6
Usage: More common in written Cantonese; interchangeable with 不僅

  • Example Sentence: Hedwig不但是我的信使,更是我的朋友。
  • Romanization: “Hedwig” bat1 daan6 si6 ngo5 dik1 seon3 si2, gang3 si6 ngo5 dik1 pang4 jau5
  • Meaning: Not only does Hedwig deliver my mail, but she is also my friend.

2- 不僅

Meaning: Not only
Romanization: bat1 gan2
Usage: More common in written Cantonese; interchangeable with 不但

  • Example Sentence: 不僅他一個人有這種想法。
  • Romanization: bat1 gan2 taa1 jat1 go3 jan4 jau5 ze2 zung2 soeng2 faat3
  • Meaning: He is not the only one who thinks like that.

3- 而且

Meaning: Also
Romanization: ji4 ce2
Usage: Can be used in both written and spoken Cantonese

  • Example Sentence (in Written Cantonese): 我的作業做完了,而且全部正確。
  • Romanization: ngo5 dik1 zok3 jip6 zou6 jyun4 liu5, ji4 ce2 cyun4 bou6 zing3 kok3
  • Meaning: Not only have I completed all my tasks, but they are also all correct.

4- 況且

Meaning: Additionally; not to mention
Romanization: fong3 ce2
Usage: Can be used in both written and spoken Cantonese

  • Example Sentence (in Spoken Cantonese): 送快件太貴喇,況且易碎品嚟㗎喎。
  • Romanization: sung3 faai3 gin2 taai3 gwai3 laa3, fong3 ce2 ji6 seoi3 ban2 lei4 gaa3 wo3
  • Meaning: Sending a package by carrier is too expensive, and not to mention, this object is very fragile.


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

Improve Listening Part 2

We hoped you enjoyed learning about Cantonese conjunctions with us. Did you learn something new? Let us know in the comments!

Want to level up your Cantonese after mastering Cantonese conjunctions? No worries. 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 Cantonese now!

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

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

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Guide to Cantonese Customs and Etiquette

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Some say manners and etiquette are outdated and no longer matter in this day and age—why bother to care about how others think or feel? Why don’t we just “be our true self” and “show our personality?”

However, decent manners and etiquette are never out of style. They’re the cornerstone of civilization. Without them, a society will become disorganized; its members will demonstrate disrespect for one another and ultimately lead to chaos, insults, falsehoods, and many more unpleasant consequences.

That’s why we’ve set out to help you learn Cantonese customs and etiquette in Hong Kong for your time here.

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Table of Contents

  1. Why Manners and Etiquette Matter to You
  2. Concepts Related to Manners in Hong Kong
  3. Dining Etiquette in Hong Kong
  4. Gift Giving Etiquette in Hong Kong
  5. Do’s and Don’ts - Transportation in Hong Kong
  6. Bonus: How to Greet in Hong Kong
  7. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101 Can Help You Learn More Cantonese


1. Why Manners and Etiquette Matter to You

Thanks

Manners Maketh Man.

Manners tell who you truly are and represent your inner self, while etiquette sets out a guideline on how you’re expected to behave in public. They touch on every aspect of our lives.

Things like saying 多謝 (do1 ze6) or “thank you” when someone offers help, greeting a colleague with 早晨 (zou2 san4) or “good morning,” and offering your seat to the elderly show that you care about and respect others.

Understanding the social etiquette in Hong Kong will come in handy when you’re making a new friend or interacting with the locals. By demonstrating your respect and avoiding behaviors that are deemed “offensive,” your relationships with them will be more sound and smooth.


2. Concepts Related to Manners in Hong Kong

1- 面 (min2)

(min2) is a unique concept in Chinese society. This concept of cultural etiquette in Hong Kong describes one’s status, dignity, and integrity. You can also refer to 面 (min2) as the feeling of being respected and honored by others.

This is a crucial concept in Hong Kong society. Further, a similar concept that will help you foster your relationships with the locals is 畀面 (bei2 min2), meaning:

  • The ability to hold back when criticizing someone to make that person feel respected.
  • Taking actions to demonstrate your admiration and regard for that person.

面 (min2) is closely tied to a number of unique concepts governing the culture of Hong Kong and Chinese communities:

  • 關係 (gwaan1 hai6) meaning “relationship.”
  • 中庸 (zung1 jung4) which is a prevailing mindset from Confucianism of not going for the extremes, both in terms of praise and criticism.
  • 人情 (jan4 cing4) which is a sense of human touch and affection/owing someone a favor. Feel free to click the above links if you want to know more.

2- Respect for Seniors

According to Hong Kong social etiquette, age usually determines seniority. In family settings, it’s expected that everyone will respect the elder ones in accordance with filial piety, a deeply rooted virtue in many Southeast Asian countries. HongKongers usually worship their ancestors at least twice a year, which stems from the belief that children are indebted to their parents forever.


3. Dining Etiquette in Hong Kong

Chinese Food

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

General Food Manners & Restaurant Etiquette in Hong Kong

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

Hygiene

Chopsticks

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

Tea

  • DO open the lid of the teapot or place the lid upside-down if you would like to request more tea.
  • DO tap your fingers several times by your cup to thank a person for pouring tea for you.
  • DON’T take the first sip; wait for the senior host to do so first.


4. Gift Giving Etiquette in Hong Kong

Gift

If you’re invited to someone’s house in Hong Kong, you’re expected to bring a gift with you. Check out the guidelines below:

  • DON’T present four gifts, as “four'’ sounds similar to “death” in Cantonese. If you would like to bring multiple gifts with you, try three (similar to “life” in Cantonese), eight (similar to “prosperity” in Cantonese) or nine (similar to “eternity” in Cantonese).
  • DO make sure you hand your gift over with both hands.
  • DO insist on handing over the gift. Sometimes the host may refuse the gift a couple of times before accepting it. This is part of the traditional Hong Kong culture.
  • DON’T wrap your gift in white or black, as they’re considered unlucky colors.
    DO try lucky colors like red or gold instead.
  • DON’T unwrap the gift on the spot.
  • DON’T pick clocks or watches as gifts. “Giving a clock” in Cantonese sounds like attending a funeral.
  • DON’T pick shoes as gifts, as the Cantonese word for “shoes” sounds like “rough,” which suggests bad luck.


5. Do’s and Don’ts - Transportation in Hong Kong

Bad Phrases

General Manners on Public Transportation (Bus, MTR, etc.)

  • DO keep quiet and be considerate. Avoid obstructive behavior and public displays of affection.
  • DON’T eat, drink, or smoke on public transportation.
  • DO give up your seat to the elderly, pregnant women, the disabled, and families with babies.
  • DON’T litter.
  • DON’T take up more than one seat.

MTR Map

MTR: Hong Kong’s Railway System

  • DO have your Octopus card or ticket ready before you go through the gate in the MTR station. MTR is one of the busiest train systems in the world. Trains come in every minute during rush hour and take on around 4.6-million passengers every day. If you only search for your ticket or card at the gate, you’ll definitely feel the pressure from other impatient commuters.
  • DO stand on the right side of the escalator to allow other commuters to walk on the left.
  • DO let passengers get off before entering the MTR carriage.
  • DON’T lean up against the poles, as other passengers will need to hold onto the poles.
  • Even if you’re yet to arrive at your destination, DO let people out when you’re at a stop and DON’T stand at the doorway.
  • DO pull your legs in to avoid tripping other commuters.
  • DO move inside the train compartment.


6. Bonus: How to Greet in Hong Kong

Business Phrases

When it comes to social etiquette in Hong Kong, there aren’t many special gestures (such as bowing) for when you greet someone in Hong Kong. Simply saying Cantonese greeting words will do:

  • Cantonese character: 你好
  • Romanization: nei5 hou2
  • Meaning: “Hello” (formal)
  • Cantonese character: 哈囉
  • Romanization: haa1 lo3
  • Meaning: “Hello” (informal)

If you would like to express your enthusiasm in meeting someone, you can wave your hands while saying hello to him or her. Avoid hugging, bowing, or kissing on the cheek.

To know more about how to appropriately greet someone in Hong Kong, check out our article on How to Say Hello in Cantonese!


7. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101 Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

Want to level up your Cantonese and learn more Cantonese phrases? No worries. With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through mobile apps, desktop software, and our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture.

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

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

Before you go, let us know in the comments if you learned anything new about etiquette in Hong Kong. Are etiquette rules here similar or very different than those in your country? We look forward to hearing from you!

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

Talking About Tomorrow in Cantonese: Dates in Cantonese

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Although English is widely spoken in Hong Kong, learning how to describe dates in Cantonese would be of great benefit to you. Mastering Cantonese dates will not only help you communicate better with the locals, it will also ensure that you won’t miss out on any important meetings or fun events in town.

In this article, we’ll go over how to say dates in Cantonese, how it differs from how to write dates in Cantonese, and even give you some background information on the Chinese calendar.

Cheung Chau, Hong Kong

Can’t wait to learn about Cantonese dates? Let CantoneseClass101.com give you a hand!

Table of Contents

  1. Traditional Chinese Calendar and Modern Calendar
  2. Cantonese Years
  3. Cantonese Months
  4. Cantonese Days
  5. Cantonese Date Format
  6. The Week in Cantonese
  7. Other Terms Related to Cantonese Dates
  8. Simple Sentences
  9. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101 Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

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1. Traditional Chinese Calendar and Modern Calendar

The traditional Chinese calendar, which can be referred to as either 農曆 (nung4 lik6), 舊曆 (gau6 lik6), or 陰曆 (jam1 lik6) in Cantonese, is a lunisolar calendar which reckons years, months, and days according to astronomical phenomena.

Although modern day Hong Kong uses the Gregorian calendar which aligns with most countries in the world, the traditional Chinese calendar still governs some of the holidays (e.g. the Chinese New Year) and guides people in selecting days for weddings, funerals, moving, or starting a business.


2. Cantonese Years

年 (nin4) is “year” in Cantonese. To express a year in Cantonese, simply convert the number to Chinese characters and add them in front of the character 年 (nin4). For example, the year “2009″ is 二零零九年 (ji6 ling4 ling4 gau2 nin4) in Cantonese.

Person Looking at a Calendar

More examples:

#      Chinese Characters      Romanization      Meaning
1      一八八零年      jat1 baat3 baat3 ling4 nin4      Year 1880
2      一九八四年      jat1 gau2 baat3 sei3 nin4      Year 1984
3      二零一九年      ji6 ling4 jat1 gau2 nin4      Year 2019
4      二零四七年      ji6 ling4 sei3 cat1 nin4      Year 2047
5      二零六六年      ji6 ling4 luk6 luk6 nin4      Year 2066


3. Cantonese Months

Months

月 (jyut6) is “month” in Cantonese. To express a month in Cantonese, simply add the appropriate number in front of the character 月 (jyut6). For example, December is the twelfth month, so “December” in Cantonese is 十二月 (sap6 ji6 jyut6).

#      Chinese Characters      Romanization      Meaning
1      一月      jat1 jyut6      January
2      二月      ji6 jyut6      February
3      三月      saam1 jyut6      March
4      四月      sei3 jyut6      April
5      五月      ng5 jyut6      May
6      六月      luk6 jyut6      June
7      七月      cat1 jyut6      July
8      八月      baat3 jyut6      August
9      九月      gau2 jyut6      September
10      十月      sap6 jyut6      October
11      十一月      sap6 jat1 jyut6      November
12      十二月      sap6 ji6 jyut6      December

You can also visit our vocabulary list to familiarize yourself with Cantonese months!


4. Cantonese Days

Weekdays

日 (jat6) is “day” in Cantonese. To express a day in Cantonese, simply add the appropriate number in front of the character 日 (jat6). For example, the eleventh day of the month is “11,” so 11th in the context of a date is 十一日 (sap6 jat1 jat6).

Note that 日 (jat6) is the formal, written form to express a date. If you want to express a date in spoken form, replace 日 (jat6) with 號 (hou6). For example, 一日 (jat1 jat6) becomes 一號 (jat1 hou6). Also, when there’s 二十 (ji6 sap6), replace it with 廿 (jaa6) when speaking. Take the 21st of the month as an example: 二十一日 (ji6 sap6 jat1 jat6) becomes 廿一號 (jaa6 jat1 hou6).

A Calendar

#      Chinese Characters      Romanization      Meaning
1      一日      jat1 jat6      1st
2      二日      ji6 jat6      2nd
3      三日      saam1 jat6      3rd
4      四日      sei3 jat6      4th
5      五日      ng5 jat6      5th
6      六日      luk6 jat6      6th
7      七日      cat1 jat6      7th
8      八日      baat3 jat6      8th
9      九日      gau2 jat6      9th
10      十日      sap6 jat6      10th
11      十一日      sap6 jat1 jat6      11th
12      十二日      sap6 ji6 jat6      12th
13      十三日      sap6 saam1 jat6      13th
14      十四日      sap6 sei3 jat6      14th
15      十五日      sap6 ng5 jat6      15th
16      十六日      sap6 luk6 jat6      16th
17      十七日      sap6 cat1 jat6      17th
18      十八日      sap6 baat3 jat6      18th
19      十九日      sap6 gau2 jat6      19th
20      二十日      ji6 sap6 jat6      20th
21      二十一日      ji6 sap6 jat1 jat6      21st
22      二十二日      ji6 sap6 ji6 jat6      22nd
23      二十三日      ji6 sap6 saam1 jat6      23rd
24      二十四日      ji6 sap6 sei3 jat6      24th
25      二十五日      ji6 sap6 ng5 jat6      25th
26      二十六日      ji6 sap6 luk6 jat6      26th
27      二十七日      ji6 sap6 cat1 jat6      27th
28      二十八日      ji6 sap6 baat3 jat6      28th
29      二十九日      ji6 sap6 gau2 jat6      29th
30      三十日      saam1 sap6 jat6      30th
31      三十一日      saam1 sap6 jat1 jat6      31st


5. Cantonese Date Format

Numbers

The date is written in the following format in Hong Kong: [year]年 [month]月 [day]日 (nin4 / jyut6 / jat6). Simply insert the appropriate numbers in front of 年 (nin4), 月 (jyut6), and 日 (jat6).

Again, if you would like to say the date out loud, change 日 (jat6) to 號 (hou6).

For example:

# Chinese Characters Romanization Meaning
1 一九七八年一月九日 jat1 gau2 cat1 baat3 nin4 jat1 jyut6 gau2 jat6 Jan 9, 1978
2 一九八四年十一月十五日 jat1 gau2 baat3 sei3 nin4 sap6 jat1 jyut6 sap6 ng5 jat6 Nov 15, 1984
3 二零一九年十二月二十八日 ji6 ling4 jat1 gau2 nin4 sap6 ji6 jyut6 ji6 sap6 baat3 jat6 Dec 28, 2019
4 二零三五年十月三十日 ji6 ling4 saam1 ng5 nin4 sap6 jyut6 saam1 sap6 jat6 Oct 30, 2035
5 三月六日 saam1 jyut6 luk6 jat6 Mar 6
6 八月二十七日 baat3 jyut6 ji6 sap6 cat1 jat6 Aug 27
7 十一月二十九日 sap6 jat1 jyut6 ji6 sap6 gau2 jat6 Nov 29
8 十二月三十一日 sap6 ji6 jyut6 saam1 sap6 jat1 jat6 Dec 31


6. The Week in Cantonese

Person Marking Something on a Calendar

#      Chinese Characters      Romanization      Meaning
1      禮拜      lai5 baai3      Week (casual)
2      星期      sing1 kei4      Week (both formal and casual)
3      星期一      sing1 kei4 jat1      Monday
4      星期二      sing1 kei4 ji6      Tuesday
5      星期三      sing1 kei4 saam1      Wednesday
6      星期四      sing1 kei4 sei3      Thursday
7      星期五      sing1 kei4 ng5      Friday
8      星期六      sing1 kei4 luk6      Saturday
9      星期日      sing1 kei4 jat6      Sunday

Make sure to check out our list on Cantonese weeks and days, too!


7. Other Terms Related to Cantonese Dates

#      Chinese Characters      Romanization      Meaning
1      今日      gam1 jat6      Today (casual)
2      今天      gam1 tin1m      Today (formal)
3      尋日      cam4 jat6      Yesterday (casual)
4      昨天      zok3 tin1      Yesterday (formal)
5      聽日      ting1 jat6      Tomorrow (casual)
6      明天      ming4 tin1      Tomorrow (formal)
7      前日      cin4 jat6      The day before yesterday
8      後日      hau6 jat6      The day after tomorrow
9      閏年日      jeon6 nin4 jat6      Leap year day
10      閒日      haan4 jat2      Weekday
11      週末      zau1 mut6      Weekend
12      日期      jat6 kei4      Date


8. Simple Sentences

Want to learn some simple sentences related to dates? We have examples in both written and spoken form—familiarize yourself with the examples below!

Pencil and Paper

1- 我昨天請假一天

Romanization: ngo5 zok3 tin1 ceng2 gaa3 jat1 tin1
Meaning: I took a day off yesterday.
Form: written form

2- 今天是九月十日星期六

Romanization: gam1 tin1 si6 gau2 jyut6 sap6 jat6 sing1 kei4 luk6
Meaning: Today is September 10th, Saturday.
Form: written form

3- 二月二十九日是閏年日

Romanization: ji6 jyut6 ji6 sap6 gau2 jat6 si6 jeon6 nin4 jat6
Meaning: Leap year day is February 29th.
Form: written form

4- 你幾時得閒?

Romanization: nei5 gei2 si4 dak1 haan4
Meaning: When will you be free?
Form: spoken form

5- 五月三十一日是世界無煙日

Romanization: ng5 jyut6 saam1 sap6 jat1 jat6 si6 sai3 gaai3 mou4 jin1 jat6
Meaning: May 31st is World No Smoking Day.
Form: written form

6- 邊日方便你?

Romanization: bin1 jat6 fong1 bin6 nei5?
Meaning: Which day is good for you?
Form: spoken form

7- 唔好意思,我星期五唔得閒

Romanization: m4 hou2 ji3 si1, ngo5 sing1 kei4 ng5 m4 dak1 haan4
Meaning: I’m sorry, but I’m not available on Friday.
Form: spoken form

8- 學校於八月暫停開放

Romanization: hok6 haau6 jyu1 baat3 jyut6 zaam6 ting4 hoi1 fong3
Meaning: The school is closed in August.
Form: written form

9- 我哋可唔可以約下星期開會?

Romanization: ngo5 dei6 ho2 m4 ho2 ji3 joek3 haa6 sing1 kei4 hoi1 wui2
Meaning: Can we set up a meeting next week?
Form: spoken form

10- 我們在六月結婚

Romanization: ngo5 mun4 zoi6 luk6 jyut6 git3 fan1
Meaning: We are getting married in June.
Form: written form

11- 星期五方唔方便?

Romanization: sing1 kei4 ng5 fong1 m4 fong1 bin6
Meaning: Does Friday work for you?
Form: spoken form

12- 三月在北半球及南半球分別代表春季及秋季的來臨

Romanization: saam1 jyut6 zoi6 bak1 bun3 kau4 kap6 naam4 bun3 kau4 fan1 bit6 doi6 biu2 ceon1 gwai3 kap6 cau1 gwai3 dik1 loi4 lam4
Meaning: March marks the start of spring in the northern hemisphere and fall in the southern hemisphere.
Form: written form

13- 明天見

Romanization: ming4 tin1 gin3
Meaning: See you tomorrow!
Form: written form

14- 十二月三十一日是除夕

Romanization: sap6 ji6 jyut6 saam1 sap6 jat1 jat6 si6 ceoi4 zik6
Meaning: December 31st is New Year’s Eve.
Form: written form

15- 星期一、星期二、星期三、星期四及星期五都是平日

Romanization: sing1 kei4 jat1, sing1 kei4 ji6, sing1 kei4 saam1, sing1 kei4 sei3 kap6 sing1 kei4 ng5 dou1 si6 ping4 jat2
Meaning: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are weekdays.
Form: written form

16- 今日係星期日

Romanization: gam1 jat6 hai6 sing1 kei4 jat6
Meaning: Today is Sunday.
Form: spoken form

17- 你今個禮拜得唔得閒?

Romanization: nei5 gam1 go3 lai5 baai1 dak1 m4 dak1 haan4?
Meaning: Are you free this week?
Form: spoken form

18- 今日全部堂都取消

Romanization: gam1 jat6 cyun4 bou6 tong4 dou1 ceoi2 siu1
Meaning: All classes for today got cancelled.
Form: spoken form


9. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101 Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

Want to level up your Cantonese and learn more Cantonese phrases? No worries. With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through mobile apps, desktop software, and our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture.

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

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

Before you go, let us know in the comments how you feel about dates in Cantonese now. We hope you feel more comfortable about how to write dates in Cantonese—to practice, be sure to include today’s date in Cantonese in your comment! We look forward to hearing from you.

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Cantonese Family: “Grandmother” in Cantonese and More!

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Although English is widely spoken in Hong Kong, learning how to describe your family in Cantonese will be of great benefit to you. Not only will it help you understand the local culture better, but it can also facilitate communication with the locals and show respect, especially considering that family is a strong institution here.

Hong Kong Victoria Harbour

Want to learn more about Hong Kong families in general and familiarize yourself with basic Cantonese family expressions? Keep reading and let CantoneseClass101.com give you a hand!

In this article, we’ll go over essential information including family titles in Cantonese, family Cantonese words, how to say family in Cantonese, and family relations in Cantonese.

By the time you’re done with this article, you’ll be much more informed on family meaning in Cantonese, and will be saying things like “grandmother” in Cantonese like it’s nothing!

But first…

Table of Contents

  1. What is Family in Cantonese Culture?
  2. Terms for Family Members in Cantonese
  3. More Family Terms in Cantonese: Terms for Relatives
  4. Terms for Family Members as a Married Person
  5. Endearment Terms for the Family in Cantonese
  6. Simple Sentences to Talk About Family in Cantonese
  7. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

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1. What is Family in Cantonese Culture?

Parent Phrases

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

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

Age determines the seniority of a family. It’s expected for everyone to respect their elders in accordance with filial piety, a deeply rooted virtue in many Southeast Asian countries. HongKongers usually worship their ancestors at least twice a year, which stems from the belief that children are eternally indebted to their parents. This respect for seniority can also be observed through language; for example, “brother” is further classified as “elder brother” and “younger brother.”


2. Terms for Family Members in Cantonese

Family Words

Unlike in English, there are very specific terms in Cantonese to refer to family members. For example, “grandfather” is further broken down to describe whether one is talking about the grandfather on the paternal or maternal side. “Sister” is further broken down according to age. Check out the detailed family tree in Cantonese below!

#           Chinese Characters           Romanization                     Meaning
1           家庭           gaa1 ting4                     Family
2           父母           fu6 mou5                     Parents
3           父親           fu6 can1                     Father (formal - usually only appears in writing)
4           爸爸           baa4 baa1                     Father (less formal - applicable to both writing and speaking)
5           母親           mou5 can1                     Mother (formal - usually only appears in writing)
6           媽媽           maa4 maa1                     Mother (less formal - applicable to both writing and speaking)
7           孩子           haai4 zi2                     Children (formal - usually only appears in writing)
8           小朋友           siu2 pang4 jau5                     Children (less formal - applicable to both writing and speaking)
9           仔女           zai2 neoi2                     Children (less formal - applicable to both writing and speaking)
10           仔           zai2                     Son
11           女           neoi2                     Daughter
12           兄弟姊妹           hing1 dai6 zi2 mui6                     Siblings
13           哥哥           go4 go1                     Elder brother
14           弟弟           dai4 dai2                     Younger brother
15           姐姐           ze4 ze1                     Elder sister
16           妹妹           mui4 mui2                     Younger sister
17           爺爺           je4 je2                     Grandfather (father’s father)
18           公公           gung4 gung1                     Grandfather (mother’s father); interchangeable with #19
19           外公           ngoi6 gung1                     Grandfather (mother’s father); interchangeable with #18
20           嫲嫲           maa4 maa4                     Grandmother (father’s mother)
21           婆婆           po4 po2                     Grandmother (mother’s mother); interchangeable with #22
22           外婆           ngoi6 po4                     Grandmother (mother’s mother); interchangeable with #21
23           孫仔           syun1 zai2                     Grandson (son’s son)
24           外孫           ngoi6 syun1                     Grandson (daughter’s son)
25           孫女           syun1 neoi2                     Granddaughter (son’s daughter)
26           外孫女           ngoi6 syun1 neoi2                     Granddaughter (daughter’s daughter)


3. More Family Terms in Cantonese: Terms for Relatives

family Gathering with Food

#           Chinese Characters           Romanization           Meaning
1           伯父           baak3 fu6 Uncle (father’s elder brother)
2           叔父           suk1 fu6           Uncle (father’s younger brother)
3           姑丈           gu1 zoeng2           Uncle (father’s sister’s husband)
4           舅父           kau5 fu2           Uncle (mother’s brother)
5           姨丈           ji4 zoeng2           Uncle (mother’s sister’s husband)
6           叔叔           suk1 suk1           Uncle (general)
7           姑媽           gu1 maa1           Aunt (father’s elder sister)
8           姑姐           gu1 ze1           Aunt (father’s younger sister)
9           伯娘           baak3 noeng4           Aunt (father’s elder brother’s wife)
10           阿嬸           aa3 sam2           Aunt (father’s younger brother’s wife)
11           姨媽           ji4 maa1           Aunt (mother’s elder sister)
12           阿姨           aa3 ji1           Aunt (mother’s younger sister)
13           舅母           kau5 mou5           Aunt (mother’s brother’s wife)
14           姨姨           ji1 ji1           Aunt (general)
15           堂阿哥           tong4 aa3 go1           Elder male cousin (father’s side)
16           堂細佬           tong4 sai3 lou2           Younger male cousin (father’s side)
17           堂家姐           tong4 gaa1 ze1           Elder female cousin (father’s side)
18           堂細妹           tong4 sai3 mui2           Younger female cousin (father’s side)
19           表哥           biu2 go1           Elder male cousin (mother’s side)
20           表弟           biu2 dai2           Younger male cousin (mother’s side)
21           表姐           biu2 ze2           Elder female cousin (mother’s side)
22           表妹           biu2 mui2           Younger female cousin (mother’s side)
23           侄           zat6           Nephew (brother’s son)
24           外甥           ngoi6 saang1           Nephew (sister’s son)
25           侄女           zat6 neoi2           Niece (brother’s daughter)
26           外甥女           ngoi6 saang1 neoi2           Niece (sister’s daughter)


4. Terms for Family Members as a Married Person

Bride and Groom Photoshoot

#           Chinese Characters

          Romanization           Meaning
1           配偶           pui3 ngau5           Spouse
2           先生           sin1 saang1           Husband; interchangeable with #3
3           丈夫           zoeng6 fu1           Husband; interchangeable with #2
4           太太           taai3 taai2           Wife; interchangeable with #5
5           妻子           cai1 zi2           Wife; interchangeable with #4
6           老爺           lou5 je4           Father-in-law (husband’s father)
7           外父           ngoi6 fu2           Father-in-law (wife’s father)
8           奶奶           naai4 naai2           Mother-in-law (husband’s mother)
9           外母           ngoi6 mou2           Mother-in-law (wife’s mother)
10           姐夫           ze2 fu1           Brother-in-law (elder sister’s husband)
11           妹夫           mui6 fu1           Brother-in-law (younger sister’s husband)
12           大舅           daai6 kau5           Brother-in-law (husband’s elder brother)
13           舅仔           kau5 zai2           Brother-in-law (husband’s younger brother)
14           大伯           daai6 baak3           Brother-in-law (wife’s elder brother)
15           叔仔           suk1 zai2           Brother-in-law (wife’s younger brother)
16           阿嫂           aa3 sou2           Sister-in-law (elder brother’s wife)
17           弟婦           dai6 fu5           Sister-in-law (younger brother’s wife)
18           姑奶           gu1 naai1           Sister-in-law (husband’s elder sister)
19           姑仔           gu1 zai2           Sister-in-law (husband’s younger sister)
20           大姨           daai6 ji1           Sister-in-law (wife’s elder sister)
21           姨仔           ji1 zai2           Sister-in-law (wife’s younger sister)
22           女婿           neoi5 sai3           Son-in-law
23           新抱           san1 pou5           Daughter-in-law


5. Endearment Terms for the Family in Cantonese

Two Birds On Branch

#           Chinese Characters           Romanization           Meaning
1           阿爸           aa3 baa4           Father
2           爹地           de1 di4           Father
3           老豆           lou5 dau6           Father
4           阿媽           aa3 maa1           Mother
5           媽咪           maa1 mi4           Mother
6           老母           lou5 mou2           Mother
7           大佬           daai6 lou2           Elder brother
8           細佬           sai3 lou2           Younger brother
9           家姐           gaa1 ze1           Elder sister
10           細妹           sai3 mui2           Younger sister
11           老公           lou5 gung1           Husband
12           老婆           lou5 po4           Wife


6. Simple Sentences to Talk About Family in Cantonese

Family Quotes

1- 我係你爸爸

Romanization: ngo5 hai6 nei5 baa4 baa1
Meaning: I am your father.

Additional Notes:

係 (hai6) is a verb with many different functions and often translates as “to be.” However, we primarily use 係 (hai6) to express that one noun is equivalent to another, as in the sentence 我係你爸爸 (ngo5 hai6 nei5 baa4 baa1). In a simple sentence using 係 (hai6), the meaning of the noun after 係 (hai6) is usually more general than the noun before 係 (hai6). Only when both nouns are equally specific can they be interchanged.

2- 呢個係我爸爸

Romanization: ni1 go3 hai6 ngo5 baa4 baa1
Meaning: This is my father.

3- 嗰個係佢家姐

Romanization: go2 go3 hai6 keoi5 gaa1 ze1
Meaning: That is her elder sister.

4- 邊個係你妹夫?

Romanization: bin1 go3 hai6 nei5 mui6 fu1
Meaning: Who is your younger sister’s brother?

5- 我哋係老公老婆
Romanization: ngo5 dei2 hai6 lou5 gung1 lou5 po4
Meaning: We are husband and wife.

6- 佢係我大佬

Romanization: keoi5 hai6 ngo5 daai6 lou2
Meaning: He is my elder brother.

7- 我侄女伊利沙伯

Romanization: ngo5 zat6 neoi2 ji1 lei6 saa1 baak3
Meaning: My niece Elizabeth.

8- 邊個係達西嘅爸爸?

Romanization: bin1 go3 hai6 daat6 sai1 ge3 baa4 baa1
Meaning: Who is Darcy’s father?

9- 我妹妹去咗英國留學

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

10- 佢係奧斯汀嘅細佬

Romanization: keoi5 hai6 ou3 si1 ting1 ge3 sai3 lou2
Meaning: He is Austin’s brother.

11- 我係溫特沃斯嘅老婆

Romanization: ngo5 hai6 wan1 dak6 juk1 si1 ge3 lou5 po4
Meaning: I am Wentworth’s wife.

12- 安妮係我嘅表妹

Romanization: on1 nei4 hai6 ngo5 biu2 mui2
Meaning: Anne is my “younger female cousin” (mother’s side).


How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

Want to level up your Cantonese and learn more Cantonese phrases? No worries. With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through mobile apps, desktop software, and our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture.

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

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

Before you go, let us know in the comments how you feel about using family words in Cantonese now. More comfortable, or still confused about something we went over? We know it’s a lot to take in, so feel free to reach out with questions or concerns!

Happy learning!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Family Phrases in Cantonese

Must-Know Cantonese Travel Phrases

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Even though English is widely spoken in Hong Kong, learning Cantonese travel phrases can still be of great benefit to you. Not only will it help you navigate through the world’s greatest city better, but it can also serve as a conversation starter with the locals and help you understand the culture better. That’s why we’ve put together this guide about Cantonese travel phrases for those who speak English.

Can’t wait to put some Cantonese travel phrases in your pocket? Read below and let CantoneseClass101.com give you a hand with our Hong Kong travel words list! Here, you’ll find Cantonese travel phrases and words translated to English to help you navigate the country.

Table of Contents

  1. Basic Expressions
  2. Transportation
  3. Shopping
  4. Restaurants
  5. Asking for and Giving Directions
  6. Emergencies
  7. Flattery Phrases
  8. Useful Phrases to go through Language Problems
  9. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

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1. Basic Expressions

Preparing to Travel

These are the travel phrases in Cantonese that you should know to have basic conversations with people while in Hong Kong.

1. 唔該

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

2. 多謝

Romanization: do1 ze6
Meaning: Thank you. (When someone presents a gift.)

Additional Notes:
You should always say 多謝 (do1 ze6) when you receive a gift, regardless of the person’s age or seniority. Being polite will help you fit in and be appreciated by your peers. Thus, this is one of the most important travel phrases in Cantonese for you to learn.

3. 對唔住

Romanization: deoi3 m4 zyu6.
Meaning: Sorry.

Additional Notes:
This phrase literally means “sorry” and can be used in both formal and informal settings. Note that we only use this phrase when we want to express our apology and remorse. If you want to say that you’re sorry in the sense of expressing your regret or sadness over a news story or an incident, 唔好意思 (m4 ho2 ji3 si3) is more suitable.

4. 唔好意思

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

Additional Notes:
There are, broadly, three scenarios where you can use 唔好意思 (m4 ho2 ji3 si3):

  • To grab someone’s attention (e.g. “excuse me”).
  • To express your regret or sadness over bad news or an incident.
  • To apologize for minor incidents.

Comparatively, 對唔住 (deoi3 m4 zyu6) is more formal and is mainly reserved for serious offenses. When you’re speaking informally with friends, the most common apology is 唔好意思 (m4 hou2 ji3 si3).

5. 好

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

6. 再見

Romanization: zoi3 gin3.
Meaning: Bye.

Learn how to greet others in Cantonese with our article on Greetings!


2. Transportation

Airplane Phrases

Knowing these Cantonese language travel phrases will prove beneficial once you find yourself in need of transportation. Let’s take a look.

1. 呢班車去邊度㗎?

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

2. 我可以點去__呀?

Romanization: ngo5 ho2 ji5 dim2 heoi3 __ aa3
Meaning: How do I get to __?

Additional Notes:
You fill in the blank with the place you want to get to, like 車站 (ce1 zaam6) meaning “bus stop,” 機場 (gei1 coeng4) meaning “the airport,” or 酒店 (zau2 dim3) meaning “hotel.” Learning this sentence will definitely help you navigate through and explore the city—if you don’t know how to get to an attraction or a restaurant that you’d like to try out, use this!

3. 一張去__嘅飛, 唔該

Romanization: jat1 zoeng1 heoi3 __ ge3 fei1, m4 goi1.
Meaning: A ticket to __ please, thanks.

Additional Notes:
You can fill in the blank with the place or town you want to go to, such as 元朗 (jyun4 long5), 銅鑼灣 (tung4 lo4 waan1), and 西貢 (sai1 gung3). You may want to check in advance to discover what each town in Hong Kong has to offer.

4. 班火車會幾點到呀?

Romanization: baan1 fo2 ce1 wui5 gei2 dim2 dou3 aa3
Meaning: When will the train arrive?

Additional Notes:
The railway systems in Hong Kong are some of the most efficient, where trains come in every other minute during peak hour. But still, time is limited for travelers, and it wouldn’t hurt to learn this phrase and put it in your pocket.

5. __領事館喺邊呀?

Romanization: __ling5 si6 gun2 hai2 bin1 aa3
Meaning: Where is __ Consulate?

Additional Notes:
You can fill in the blank with the name of the country:

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

Many countries have set up a consulate in Hong Kong. You may find more information if you need help from the consulate of your country.


3. Shopping

Basic Questions

A trip to Hong Kong wouldn’t be complete without a little shopping! Study these Hong Kong travel words’ translation to pave the way for a more enjoyable shopping experience.

1. 幾多錢呀?

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

2. 太貴喇

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

Additional Notes:
This phrase will help you a lot when you negotiate for cheaper prices in the Ladies Market.

3. 我俾唔起

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

4. 我可唔可以退貨?

Romanization: ngo5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji3 teoi3 fo3?
Meaning: Can I get a refund?

5. 我可以去邊度唱錢呀?

Romanization: ngo5 ho2 ji5 heoi3 bin1 dou6 coeng3 cin2 aa3?
Meaning: Where can I exchange foreign currency?

6. 可唔可以俾個袋我呀?

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

Additional Notes:
Hong Kong has implemented the Environmental Levy Scheme on Plastic Shopping Bags. Now a plastic shopping bag costs HKD0.5.

7. 你找錯錢

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

8. 我可唔可以用信用卡找數?

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

9. 可唔可以換細一個碼?

Romanization: ho2 m4 ho2 ji3 wun6 sai3 jat1 go3 maa5?
Meaning: Can you exchange it for a smaller size?

Check out this link to learn Cantonese numbers!


4. Restaurants

Eating out and enjoying local cuisine—maybe the best part of traveling to a new country. Take some time to study these Cantonese travel phrases in English, and practice them in Cantonese. This will make your dining experience superb!

Empty Restaurant Table

1. 唔該俾張餐牌我睇

Romanization: m4 goi1 bei2 zoeng1 caan1 paai4 ngo5 tai2 .
Meaning: Please bring me the menu.

2. 呢度有乜嘢食出名呀?

Romanization: ni1 dou6 jau5 mat1 je5 sik6 ceot1 ming2 aa3?
Meaning: What’s your house specialty?

3. 我食素

Romanization: ngo5 sik6 sou3.
Meaning: I’m a vegetarian.

4. 我想要___

Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 jiu3 ___.
Meaning: I want ___.

Additional Notes:
You can fill in the blank with the food that you’d like to get, like 牛 (ngau4) meaning “beef,” 蔬菜 (so1 coi3) meaning “vegetables,” and 多士 (do1 si2) meaning “toast.”

5. 唔該埋單

Romanization: m4 goi1 maai4 daan1.
Meaning: Check, please.


5. Asking for and Giving Directions

Survival Phrases

When studying travel phrases to learn Cantonese, you absolutely can’t forget about directions. Here are the most basic travel phrases in Hong Kong local language to help you get around without getting lost!

1. 可唔可以喺張地圖度指俾我睇呀?

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

When you ask for directions, you may get a short answer: 向南行 (hoeng3 naam4 hang4), which means “Walk in the direction of south.” But of course, “south” is just one example, and the direction can be replaced by most of the words below.

2. 北

Romanization: bak1
Meaning: North

3. 南

Romanization: naam4
Meaning: South

4. 東

Romanization: dung1
Meaning: East

5. 西

Romanization: sai1
Meaning: West

6. 左

Romanization: zo2
Meaning: Left

7. 右

Romanization: jau6
Meaning: Right

8. 直行

Romanization: zik6 hang4.
Meaning: Go straight.


6. Emergencies

In an emergency, knowing these travel phrases in Hong Kong local language may just save the day!

Police Station Sign

1. 救命!

Romanization: gau3 ming6!
Meaning: Help!

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

2. 小心!

Romanization: siu2 sam1!
Meaning: Watch out!

3. 唔好搞我!

Romanization: m4 hou2 gaau2 ngo5!
Meaning: Leave me alone!

4. 唔該幫我叫醫生.

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

5. 我唔舒服.

Romanization: ngo5 m4 syu1 fuk6.
Meaning: I’m not feeling well.

6. 我唔見咗個銀包.

Romanization: ngo5 m4 gin3 zo2 go3 ngan4 baau1.
Meaning: I lost my wallet.


7. Flattery Phrases

When you learn Cantonese travel phrases, it’s always good to have some flattery phrases up your sleeve. Everyone loves a compliment!

Group with a Woman Giving a Thumbs Up

1. 你好叻!

Romanization: nei5 hou2 lek1!
Meaning: You are so smart!

2. 你好靚!

Romanization: nei5 hou2 leng3!
Meaning: You are so beautiful!

3. 件外套好襯你.

Romanization: gin6 ngoi6 tou3 hou2 can3 nei5.
Meaning: The jacket looks good on you.

4. 你好有品味.

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

5. 你好搞笑.

Romanization: nei5 hou2 gaau2 siu3.
Meaning: You have a great sense of humor.


8. Useful Phrases to go through Language Problems

World Map

1. 我唔識講廣東話.

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

2. 你識唔識講英文呀?

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

3. 我唔識講普通話.

Romanization: ngo5 m4 sik1 gong2 pou2 tung1 waa2.
Meaning: I can’t speak Mandarin.

4. 我唔明.

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

5. 呢度有冇人識講英文呀?

Romanization: ni1 dou6 jau5 mou5 jan4 sik1 gong2 jing1 man2 aa3?
Meaning: Anyone here speak English?


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

We went over a lot of useful Cantonese travel phrases, didn’t we? We hope you can see why travel phrases in Cantonese language learning are so vital, and how they can help you have a much better visit to Hong Kong.

Want to level up your Cantonese? No worries. With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through mobile apps, desktop software, and our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture.

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

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

Log

Cantonese Numbers from 1-100 and Beyond

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Numbers are essential in our daily lives—whether we use them to express time, negotiate prices, record dates, or count. Learning Cantonese numbers will definitely help you navigate Canto-speaking cities better, and that’s what our Cantonese lessons about numbers hope to achieve. So let CantoneseClass101 guide you through the world of Cantonese numbers.

Below are different categories of Cantonese numbers and relevant phrases, including the basic Cantonese numbers 1-10. Are you ready to learn Cantonese numbers and practice these Cantonese numbers in English?

Table of Contents

  1. Cantonese Numbers 0-9
  2. Cantonese Numbers 10-100
  3. Cantonese Numbers up to 1000
  4. How to Give Your Phone Number
  5. Shopping: How to Use Numbers when Shopping
  6. Bonus: Refresh Your Memory with a Cantopop Song
  7. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101 Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Count to One Billion in Cantonese


1. Cantonese Numbers 0-9

Cantonese Numbers

You can use both digits or Cantonese characters to express numbers. For example, if you want to express “zero,” you can either use 0 or 零 (ling4). Also, as you can see below, when it comes to Cantonese numbers, tones are still important.

  • 0: 零 (ling4)
  • 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)

You can check out our website to learn the pronunciation of these Cantonese numbers (Cantonese numbers 1-10 pronunciation).


2. Cantonese Numbers 10-100

十 (sap6) is equivalent to “ten” in English. If you want to express twenty, thirty, and so on, just add the Cantonese equivalent of the first digit in front of 十 (sap6).

Take twenty for example:
Twenty is “20,” and the Cantonese equivalent of the first digit “2″ is 二 (ji6). Adding 二 (ji6) in front of 十 (sap6), we have 二十 (ji6 sap6) for “twenty.”

When the number reaches one-hundred, 十 (sap6) turns to 百 (baak3), and we have 一百 (jat1 baak3) for “100.”

  • 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)
  • 100: 一百 (jat1 baak3)

Expressing eleven, twelve, thirteen, all the way up to ninety-eight and ninety-nine in Cantonese is easy and similar to English.

For example, if you want to express “twenty-one,” you only need to combine “20″ (二十 [ji6 sap6]) and “1″ (一 [jat1]), and you have 二十一 (ji6 sap6 jat1) in Cantonese.

The same rule applies for Cantonese numbers 11 to 99. If you want to express “eleven,” you can combine “10″ (十 [sap6]) and “1″ (一 [jat1]), and you’ll get 十一 (sap6 jat1).

  • 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)

Once again, you can check out our website to learn the Cantonese numbers’ pronunciation.


3. Cantonese Numbers up to 1000

Now that we’ve basically covered numbers in Cantonese 1-100, it’s time to count even higher!

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

Take “two-hundred” for example:
“Two-hundred” is “200,” and the Cantonese equivalent of the first digit “2″ is 二 (ji6). Adding 二 (ji6) in front of 百 (baak3), we have 二百 (ji6 baak3) for “two-hundred.”

When the number reaches a thousand, 百 (baak3) turns to 千 (cin1), and we have 一千 (jat1 cin1) for “1000.”

Counting by hundreds, here are Cantonese numbers from 200-1000:

  • 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)
  • 1000: 一千 (jat1 cin1)

Again, expressing “one-hundred and one” up to “nine-hundred and ninety-nine” in Cantonese is simple and similar to English.

For example, if you want to express “one-hundred and twenty-one,” you just need to combine “100″ (一百 [jat1 baak3]) and “21″ (二十一 [ji6 sap6 jat1]), and you have 一百二十一 (jat1 baak3 ji6 sap6 jat1) in Cantonese.

Note that if the second digit of a three-digit number is “0,” we need to add 零 (ling4) in the middle.

Take “207″ as an example. In addition to “200″ (二百 [ji6 baak3]) and “7″ (七 [cat1]), we also need to include “0″ (零 [ling4]) in the middle. Hence, “207″ is 二百零七 (ji6 baak3 ling4 cat1).

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)


4. How to Give Your Phone Number

Vintage Phone

If you want to ask for someone’s phone number, you can say: 可唔可以比你個電話我呀 (ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 bei2 nei5 go3 din6 waa2 ngo5 aa3), meaning “Could you please give your phone number to me?”

To give your number to someone else, you can simply say the digits of your number in Cantonese. If your number is 91234567, you can say 九一二三四五六七 (gau2 jat1 ji6 saam1 sei3 ng5 luk6 cat1).

A typical Hong Kong phone number has eight digits. Mobile numbers usually start with 5, 6, or 9, and fixed landline numbers start with 2 or 3. Hong Kong’s country code is 852, and we don’t have an area code.

Numbers that aren’t eight digits are usually reserved for carrier/operator services or special services, such as 999 (gau2 gau2 gau2) for emergency services.

Ambulance


5. Shopping: How to Use Numbers when Shopping

Now, here are some useful phrases for an activity that you may not be able to resist, especially when you’re in Hong Kong: Shopping!

It’s easy to express prices in Hong Kong. You just have to say the number directly in Cantonese and add the word 蚊 (man1) to the end. For example:

  • $3 is 三蚊 (saam1 man1)
  • $18 is 十八蚊 (sap6 baat3 man1)
  • $100 is 一百蚊 (jat1 baak3 man1)
  • $612 is 六百一十二蚊 (luk6 baak3 jat1 sap6 ji6 man1)
  • $1000 is 一千蚊 (ljat1 cin1 man1)

Couple Shopping

You can use the below phrases to inquire about the price of something:

  • 呢個幾錢?
    • Romanization: ni1 go3 gei2 cin2
    • Translation: How much is this?
  • 嗰個幾錢?
    • Romanization: go2 go3 gei2 cin2
    • Translation: How much is that?

You can use the below phrases to bargain for lower prices:

  • 平啲啦!
    • Romanization: peng4 di1 laa1!
    • Translation: Cheaper please!
  • 可唔可以平啲呀?
    • Romanization: ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 peng4 di1 aa1?
    • Translation: Can you lower the price?
  • 太貴喇!
    • Romanization: taai3 gwai3 laa3!
    • Translation: It’s too expensive!
  • 我唔買喇.
    • Romanization: ngo5 m4 maai3 laa3.
    • Translation: I’m not buying it.

To practice the above phrases, especially the ones for bargaining prices, you can visit 女人街 (neoi3 jan2 gaai1). 女人街 (neoi3 jan2 gaai1) literally translates as “ladies market,” and is one of the most popular Hong Kong street markets and tourist destinations.

Even though it’s called the “ladies market,” the market actually sells everything, including the latest fashion for men and women, electronics, records, and even dairy products.


6. Bonus: Refresh Your Memory with a Cantopop Song

Woman Wearing Pink Headphones

Need some help refreshing your memory of Cantonese numbers? No worries. We’ve got you covered.

In case our vocabulary list isn’t enough, you can also check out this Cantopop song sung by the veteran Cantopop singer George Lam. The name of the song is 數字人生 (sou3 zi6 jan4 saang1), meaning “A Number of Life.” As the name of the song suggests, it’s about numbers.

In fact, most of its lyrics are numbers that appear to be random and don’t make sense. Though it was released two decades ago, the “number song” is still well-known among Hongkongers. The government even decided to use it for promoting the 2012-2013 Budget Consultation.


7. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101 Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

We hope you now see how important Cantonese numbers in language learning are! With basic Cantonese numbers, you can now exchange phone numbers and enjoy shopping in Hong Kong!

Now that you’ve mastered Cantonese numbers, it’s time to move up to the next level! With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through our mobile apps, desktop software, and 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. We also have 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!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Count to One Billion in Cantonese

How to Say Sorry in Cantonese

How to say sorry is one of the first things that a traveler or a language learner should learn—knowing how to say sorry helps us better communicate and maintain relationships with new friends, especially in Hong Kong where we are famous for our politeness. That said, it’s quite important to learn how to say sorry in Cantonese culture.

There are various ways to say sorry in English, such as “I am sorry,” My apologies,” and many more. It’s the same for Cantonese; we have different phrases to express our apologies for formal, informal, and specific occasions. Let’s go through some of the most widely-used phrases for apology in Cantonese below together! Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet - How to Improve Your Cantonese Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

  1. The Two Most Common Phrases
  2. Formal Apologies
  3. Other Phrases
  4. How to Answer to Sorry
  5. Manner & Gesture when You Say Sorry
  6. Written Form of “I am Sorry”
  7. Bonus: Hot Topic of the City
  8. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101 can Help You Learn More Cantonese

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1. The Two Most Common Phrases

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The two most common Cantonese phrases for saying sorry are 對唔住 (deoi3 m4 zyu6) and 唔好意思 (m4 ho2 ji3 si3). They’re applicable to a wide range of circumstances, so learning how to use them to say sorry in learning Cantonese is vital. When learning how to say sorry in Cantonese, these words and phrases may just be your saving grace in various situations.

1- 對唔住

  • Romanization: deoi3 m4 zyu6
  • Meaning: Sorry

Example:

  • Cantonese character: 對唔住,我打爛咗你部電腦。
  • Romanization: deoi3 m4 zyu6, ngo5 daa2 laan6 zo2 nei5 bou6 din6 nou5.
  • Meaning: Sorry, I broke your computer.

Explanation / Notes:
This phrase literally means “sorry” and can be used in both formal and informal settings. Note that we only use this phrase when we want to express our apology and remorse. If you want to say that you’re sorry in the sense of expressing your regret or sadness over a news story or an incident, 唔好意思 (m4 ho2 ji3 si3) is more suitable.

We usually put 對唔住 (deoi3 m4 zyu6) at the start of the sentence. As it’s a phrase rather than a word, we seldom use it in the middle of a sentence unless we’re quoting it as a noun phrase.

2- 唔好意思

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

Example:

  • Cantonese character: 唔好意思,剩返七碼咋。
  • Romanization: m4 hou2 ji3 si3, zing6 faan1 cat1 maa5 zaa3.
  • Meaning: I’m sorry, we only have size 7 left.

Explanation / Notes:
This phrase is applicable to a wider range of contexts compared to 對唔住 (deoi3 m4 zyu6) and can be used both formally and informally. There are, broadly, three scenarios where you can use 唔好意思 (m4 ho2 ji3 si3), including grabbing someone’s attention (i.e. “excuse me”), expressing your regret or sadness over bad news or an incident, and apologizing for minor incidents.

  • To grab someone’s attention:
    • Cantonese character: 唔好意思,閘口喺邊?
    • Romanization: m4 ho2 ji3 si3, zaap6 hau2 hai2 bin1?
    • Meaning: Excuse me, where is the entrance?
  • To express your regret over bad news:
    • Cantonese character: 唔好意思,無貨喇。
    • Romanization: m4 ho2 ji3 si3, mou5 fo3 laa3.
    • Meaning: I’m sorry, it is out of stock.
  • To apologize for a minor incident:
    • Cantonese character: 唔好意思,唔小心踩到你。
    • Romanization: m4 ho2 ji3 si3, m4 siu2 sam1 caai2 dou2 nei5.
    • Meaning: I’m sorry for stepping on your shoes accidentally.

Comparatively, 對唔住 (deoi3 m4 zyu6) is more formal and is mainly reserved for serious offenses. When you’re speaking informally with friends, the most common apology is 唔好意思 (m4 hou2 ji3 si3). You can use both apologies to make your way through a crowd.


2. Formal Apologies

There are some phrases we reserve for serious and formal apologies, which are usually used in business settings.

Woman Bowing

1- 我衷心道歉

  • Romanization: ngo5 cung1 sam1 dou6 hip3.
  • Meaning: I sincerely apologize.

Example:

  • Cantonese character: 對於今日發生嘅事故,我衷心道歉。
  • Romanization: deoi3 jyu1 gam1 jat6 faat3 sang1 ge3 si6 gu3, ngo5 cung1 sam1 dou6 hip3.
  • Meaning: I sincerely apologize for the incident that happened today.

2- 我想道歉

  • Romanization: ngo5 soeng2 dou6 hip3.
  • Meaning: I would like to apologize.

Example:

  • Cantonese character: 我匯報得唔好,我想道歉。
  • Romanization: ngo5 wui6 bou3 dak1 m4 hou2, ngo5 soeng2 dou6 hip3.
  • Meaning: I would like to apologize for my poor presentation.


3. Other Phrases

Say Sorry

There are other phrases related to apology in Cantonese too. The phrases we’re introducing below, as well as the ones above, can sometimes be used together at the same time, depending on the situation. For example, if you want to admit that you’re the one at fault, apologize, and then beg for forgiveness, you could say: 係我唔啱,對唔住,求下你唔好嬲我 (hai6 ngo5 m4 aam1, deoi3 m4 zyu6, kau4 haa5 nei5 m4 hou2 nau1 ngo5).

1- 係我唔啱

  • Romanization: hai6 ngo5 m4 aam1.
  • Meaning: It is my fault.

Example:

  • Cantonese character: 我唔應該對你發火,係我唔啱。
  • Romanization: ngo5 m4 jing1 goi1 deoi3 nei5 faat3 fo2, hai6 ngo5 m4 aam1.
  • Meaning: I should not be mad at you, it is my fault.

2- 我唔會再咁做

  • Romanization: ngo5 m4 wui5 zoi3 gam2 zou6.
  • Meaning: I won’t do it again.

Example:

  • Cantonese character: 如果你唔鍾意嘅話,我唔會再咁做。
  • Romanization: jyu4 gwo2 nei5 m4 zung1 ji3 ge3 waa2, ngo5 m4 wui2 zoi3 gam2 zou6.
  • Meaning: If you don’t like this, I won’t do it again.

3- 我要為對你咁衰而道歉

  • Romanization: ngo5 jiu3 wai6 deoi3 nei5 gam3 seoi1 ji4 dou6 hip3.
  • Meaning: I apologize for being mean to you.

Example:

  • Cantonese character: 我唔應該笑你,我要為對你咁衰而道歉。
  • Romanization: ngo5 m4 jing1 goi1 siu3 nei5, ngo5 jiu3 wai6 deoi3 nei5 gam3 seoi1 ji4 dou6 hip3.
  • Meaning: I should not have laughed at you, I apologize for being mean to you.

4- 我希望你可以原諒我

  • Romanization: ngo5 hei1 mong6 nei5 ho2 ji3 jyun4 loeng6 ngo5.
  • Meaning: I hope you will forgive me.

Example:

  • Cantonese character: 係我唔啱,我希望你可以原諒我。
  • Romanization: hai6 ngo5 m4 aam1, ngo5 hei1 mong6 nei5 ho2 ji3 jyun4 loeng6 ngo5.
  • Meaning: It is my fault and I hope you will forgive me.

5- 我一早就唔應該咁做

  • Romanization: ngo5 jat1 zou2 zau6 m4 jing1 goi1 gam2 zou6.
  • Meaning: I should not have done it.

Example:

  • Cantonese character: 我知道你覺得難受,我一早就唔應該咁做。
  • Romanization: ngo5 zi1 dou3 nei5 gok3 dak1 naan4 sau6, ngo5 jat1 zou2 zau6 m4 jing3 goi1 gam2 zou6.
  • Meaning: I know it hurts you badly, I should not have done it.

6- 我無咁嘅意思

  • Romanization: ngo5 mou4 gam2 ge3 ji3 si1.
  • Meaning: I did not mean that.

Example:

  • Cantonese character: 可能中間有啲誤會,我無咁嘅意思。
  • Romanization: ho2 nang4 zung1 gaan1 jau5 di1 ng6 wui6, ngo5 mou4 gam2 ge3 ji3 si1.
  • Meaning: I did not mean that, I guess there could be some misunderstanding.

7- 我保證唔會再犯呢個錯

  • Romanization: ngo5 bou2 zing3 m4 wui5 zoi3 faan6 ni1 go3 co3.
  • Meaning: I will make sure I do not make the same mistake again.

Example:

  • Cantonese character: 我唔應該咁做,我保證唔會再犯呢個錯。
  • Romanization: ngo5 m4 jing3 goi1 gam2 zou6, ngo5 bou2 zing3 m4 wui5 zoi3 faan6 ni1 go3 co3.
  • Meaning: I should not have done this and I promise I will not make the same mistake again.

8- 求下你唔好嬲我

  • Romanization: kau4 haa5 nei5 m4 hou2 nau1 ngo5.
  • Meaning: Please do not be mad at me.

Example:

  • Cantonese character: 我唔會再咁做,求下你唔好嬲我。
  • Romanization: ngo5 m4 wui5 zoi3 gam2 zou6, kau4 haa5 nei5 m4 hou2 nau1 ngo5.
  • Meaning: I won’t do it again. Please don’t be mad at me.


4. How to Answer to Sorry

Man Asking for Forgiveness

If someone apologizes to you, you can reply with the below phrases:

  • 唔緊要 (m4 gan2 jiu3) - no worries / never mind
  • 無問題 (mou5 man6 tai4) - no problem
  • 無所謂 (mou5 so2 wai6) - doesn’t matter

唔緊要 (m4 gan2 jiu3) is the standard way to reply to an apology, but you can use the other two phrases as well depending on the scenarios.


5. Manner & Gesture when You Say Sorry

Woman Apologizing

In general, you should be polite and sincere when you apologize. Keep your tone flat and slightly tilt your head down. You can either look into the eyes of the person you’re saying sorry to or look down. We don’t have any common gesture that signifies “sorry.” We just say the words without any hand gesture or further body posture, such as bowing, as is common in some other cultures.


6. Written Form of “I am Sorry”

As you may know, there are two forms of Cantonese, one in spoken form and the other in written form. We speak slightly differently than we write. The above phrases are all in spoken form. So what about the written form of “I am sorry” in Cantonese?

  • Chinese character: 對不起
  • Romanization: deoi3 bat1 hei2
  • Meaning: Sorry

對不起 (deoi3 bat1 hei2) is the written form of 對唔住 (deoi3 m4 zyu6) and they have literally the same meaning. Although more and more Hong Kongeses write in the spoken form of Cantonese, it’s still impermissible to write spoken Cantonese in schools and formal writings. Also, we never speak written Cantonese in our daily lives.


7. Bonus: Hot Topic of the City

Have you ever pissed off your significant other? How would you apologize? How far would you go to ask for his or her forgiveness? Check out the video below to see how a man begged for his girlfriend’s forgiveness in Hong Kong:

If you’re not up for the extreme measures of saying sorry, like many of us do, read Common Ways to Say Sorry in Cantonese to learn more alternative ways to apologize.


8. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101 can Help You Learn More Cantonese

If you’re eager to know more common Cantonese phrases and words on top of saying sorry, please do visit CantoneseClass101.com, where you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through either your mobile apps, desktop software, or even our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture.

We’ve delivered until now 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, abundance of vocabulary learning tools and 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!

In the meantime, continue practicing how to say “I apologize” in Cantonese, along with all the other phrases we went over. You’ll be glad you did next time you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation in Hong Kong. Best of luck to you!

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Language Learning Tips: How to Avoid Awkward Silences

Avoid Awkward Silences

Yes, even beginners can quickly learn conversational Cantonese well enough to carry on real conversations with native speakers. Of course, beginners won’t be able to carry a conversation the same way they could in their native language. But, just knowing a few tips like which questions to ask to keep a conversation going are all you need to speak and interact with real native speakers! But before we get to specific suggestions, let’s first take a closer look at how having real Cantonese conversations is so vital to your mastery of the language.

Learning to Carry a Conversation is Vital to Mastery of Any Language

Communicating with other people is the very point of language and conversation is almost second nature in our native tongue. For beginners or anyone learning a new language, conversations aren’t easy at all and even simple Cantonese greetings can be intimidating and awkward.

However, there are 3 vital reasons why you should learn conversational Cantonese as quickly as possible:

  • Avoid Awkward Silences: Nothing kills a conversation faster than long periods of awkward silence, so you need practice and specific strategies to avoid them.
  • Improve the Flow of Conversation to Make a Better Impression: When you know what to say to keep a conversation going, communication becomes much easier and you make a better impression on your listener.
  • Master the Language Faster: Nothing will help you learn to speak Cantonese faster and truly master the language than having real conversations with native speakers. Conversations quickly expose you to slang, cultural expressions, and vocabulary that force you to absorb and assimilate information faster than any educational setting—and that’s a great thing!

But how can you possibly have real conversations with real Cantonese people if you are just starting out?

3 Conversation Strategies for Beginners

Conversation

1. Ask Questions to Keep a Conversation Going

For beginners and even more advanced speakers, the key is to learn to ask questions to keep a conversation going. Of course, they can’t be just random questions or else you may confuse the listener. But, by memorizing a few key questions and the appropriate time to use them, you can easily carry a conversation with minimal vocabulary or experience. And remember, the more Cantonese conversations you have, the quicker you will learn and master the language!

2. Learn Core Vocabulary Terms as Quickly as Possible

You don’t need to memorize 10,000’s of words to learn conversational Cantonese. In fact, with just a couple hundred Cantonese words you could have a very basic Cantonese conversation. And by learning maybe 1,000-2,000 words, you could carry a conversation with a native speaker about current events, ordering in restaurants, and even getting directions.

3. Study Videos or Audio Lessons that You Can Play and Replay Again and Again

If you want to know how to carry a conversation in Cantonese, then you need exposure to native speakers—and the more the better. Ideally, studying video or audio lessons is ideal because they provide contextualized learning in your native language and you can play them again and again until mastery.

CantoneseClass101 Makes it Easier and More Convenient Than Ever to Learn Conversational Cantonese

Learning Cantonese

For more than 10 years, CantoneseClass101 has been helping students learn to speak Cantonese by creating the world’s most advanced online language learning system. Here are just a few of the specific features that will help you learn conversational Cantonese fast using our proven system:

  • The Largest Collection of HD Video & Audio Lessons from Real Cantonese Instructors: CantoneseClass101 instructors have created hundreds of video and audio lessons that you can play again and again. And the best part is: They don’t just teach you Cantonese vocabulary and grammar, they are designed to help you learn to speak Cantonese and teach you practical everyday topics like shopping, ordering, etc!
  • Pronunciation Tools: Use this feature to record and compare yourself with native speakers to quickly improve your pronunciation and fluency!
  • 2000 Common Cantonese Words: Also known as our Core List, these 2,000 words are all you need to learn to speak fluently and carry a conversation with a native speaker!

In all, more than 20 advanced learning tools help you quickly build vocabulary and learn how to carry a conversation with native speakers—starting with your very first lesson.

Conclusion

Although it may seem intimidating for a beginner, the truth is that it is very easy to learn conversational Cantonese. By learning a few core vocabulary terms and which questions to ask to keep a conversation going, just a little practice and exposure to real Cantonese conversations or lessons is all it really takes. CantoneseClass101 has created the world’s largest online collection of video and audio lessons by real instructors plus loads of advanced tools to help you learn to speak Cantonese and carry a conversation quickly.

Act now and we’ll also include a list of the most commonly used questions to keep a conversation going so you can literally get started immediately!

How to Start Thinking in Cantonese

Learn 4 tools and techniques to stop translating in your head and start thinking in Cantonese

Going through Cantonese lessons is enough to get by and learn the basics of Cantonese, but to truly become fluent you need to be able to think in Cantonese. This will allow you to have conversations with ease, read smoothly, and comprehensively understand natives. To do this, you need to go beyond just completing daily or weekly lessons.

We naturally translate in our heads because it’s viewed as the easiest way to learn the definitions needed when learning a language. This way of learning can actually hinder your skills and fluency later on. If your brain has to make neural connections between the word you’re learning, what it means in your native tongue, and the physical object the connection will not be nearly as strong. When you bypass the original translation between Cantonese and your native language then there is a more basic and strong connection between just the Cantonese vocabulary word and the tangible object.

start thinking in Cantonese

In this blog post, you will learn the 4 important techniques to easily and naturally begin to speculate about the daily occurrences in your life. The best part is all of these techniques are supported and can be achieved through CantoneseClass101.com.

Create Your Free Lifetime Account and Start Learning the whole Cantonese Language from the Beginning!

1. Surround yourself with Cantonese

Surround Yourself

By surrounding yourself with Cantonese constantly you will completely immerse yourself in the language. Without realizing it you’ll be learning pronunciation, sentence structures, grammar, and new vocabulary. You can play music in the background while you’re cooking or have a Cantonese radio station on while you study. Immersion is a key factor with this learning process because it is one of the easiest things to do, but very effective. Even if you are not giving the program your full attention you will be learning.

One great feature of CantoneseClass101.com is the endless podcasts that are available to you. You can even download and listen to them on the go. These podcasts are interesting and are perfect for the intention of immersion, they are easy to listen to as background noise and are interesting enough to give your full attention. Many of them contain stories that you follow as you go through the lessons which push you to keep going.

2. Learn through observation
learn through observation

Learning through observation is the most natural way to learn. Observation is how we all learned our native languages as infants and it’s a wonder why we stop learning this way. If you have patience and learn through observation then Cantonese words will have their own meanings rather than meanings in reference to your native language. Ideally, you should skip the bilingual dictionary and just buy a dictionary in Cantonese.

CantoneseClass101.com also offers the materials to learn this way. We have numerous video lessons which present situational usage of each word or phrase instead of just a direct translation. This holds true for many of our videos and how we teach Cantonese.

3. Speak out loud to yourself
talk to yourself

Speaking to yourself in Cantonese not only gets you in the mindset of Cantonese, but also makes you listen to how you speak. It forces you to correct any errors with pronunciation and makes it easy to spot grammar mistakes. When you speak out loud talk about what you did that day and what you plan to do the next day. Your goal is to be the most comfortable speaking out loud and to easily create sentences. Once you feel comfortable talking to yourself start consciously thinking in your head about your daily activities and what is going on around you throughout the day.

With CantoneseClass101.com you start speaking right away, not only this, but they have you repeat words and conversations after a native Cantonese speaker. This makes your pronunciation very accurate! With this help, you are on the fast path to making clear and complex sentences and then actively thinking about your day.

4. Practice daily

If you don’t practice daily then your progress will be greatly slowed. Many people are tempted to take the 20-30 minutes they should be practicing a day and practice 120 in one day and skip the other days. This isn’t nearly as effective because everyday you practice you are reinforcing the skills and knowledge you have learned. If you practice all in one day you don’t retain the information because the brain can realistically only focus for 30 minutes at most. If you’re studying for 120 minutes on the same subject little of the information will be absorbed. Studying everyday allows you to review material that you went over previous days and absorb a small amount of information at a time.

It’s tough to find motivation to study everyday, but CantoneseClass101.com can help. It’s easy to stay motivated with CantoneseClass101.com because we give you a set learning path, with this path we show how much progress you’ve made. This makes you stick to your goals and keep going!

Conclusion

Following the steps and having patience is the hardest part to achieving your goals, it’s not easy learning a new language. You are essentially teaching your brain to categorize the world in a completely new way. Stick with it and you can do it just remember the 4 tools I taught you today! With them, conversations, reading, and understanding will become much easier. The most important thing to remember is to use the tools that CantoneseClass101.com provides and you will be on your way to being fluent!

Learn Cantonese With CantoneseClass101 Today!

5 Ways To Improve Your Cantonese Speaking Skills

5 Ways To Improve Your Cantonese Speaking Skills

Speaking is usually the #1 weakness for all Cantonese learners. This is a common issue among language learners everywhere. The reason for this is obvious: When language learners first start learning a language, they usually start with reading. They read online articles, books, information on apps and so on. If they take a class, they spend 20% of their time repeating words, and 80% of the time reading the textbook, doing homework or just listening to a teacher. So, if you spend most of your time reading instead of speaking, you might get better at reading but your speaking skills never grow. You get better at what you focus on.

So if you want to improve you speaking skills, you need to spend more of your study time on speaking. Here are five tips to help you get started:

1. Read out loud
If you’re listening to a lesson and reading along, read out loud. Then re-read and speed up your tempo. Do this again and again until you can speak faster. Try your best to pronounce the words correctly, but don’t obsess about it. Read swiftly, emote and put some inflection on the sentences. Reading aloud helps to train the muscles of your mouth and diaphragm to produce unfamiliar words and sounds.

Read out loud!

2. Prepare things to say ahead of time.
As you may know from experience, most learners run out of things to say. But, if you prepare lines ahead of time, you won’t be at a loss for words in conversations. This will help you not only to learn how to say the words, but how to say them in the right context. A good way to prepare yourself before conversations is with our Top 25 Questions Series, which teaches you how to ask the most common conversational questions, and how to answer them, in Cantonese:

Click here to learn the top 25 Cantonese questions you need to know.

3. Use shadowing (repeat the dialogues as you hear them).
Shadowing is an extremely useful tool for increasing fluency as well as improving your accent and ability to be understood. Shadowing helps create all the neural connections in your brain to produce those words and sentences quickly and accurately without having to think about it. Also, as mentioned in tip #1, shadowing helps develop the muscle memory in all the physical parts responsible for the production of those sounds. Depending on what your primary and target languages are, it’s quite likely that there are a lot of sounds your mouth just isn’t used to producing. Shadowing can be done, for example, when watching TV shows or movies or listening to music.

Each one of our lessons begins with a dialogue. Try to shadow the conversation line by line, and you’ll be mastering it in no time.

Click here to for a FREE taste of our Absolute Beginner series!

4. Review again and again.
This is the key to perfection, and we can’t emphasize it enough. Most learners don’t review! If you review and repeat lines again and again, you’ll be speaking better, faster and with more confidence.

Review again and again

5. DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE MISTAKES!
You’d be surprised by how many people try to avoid talking! The more you speak, the faster you learn – and that is why you’re learning Cantonese. Practice speaking every chance you get: whether it’s ordering coffee, shopping or asking for directions.