Get up to 45% Off with the 12-month challenge. Ends soon!
Get up to 45% Off with the 12-month challenge. Ends soon!
CantoneseClass101.com Blog
Learn Cantonese with Free Daily
Audio and Video Lessons!
Start Your Free Trial 6 FREE Features

Archive for the 'Speak Cantonese' Category

Max Out with These Advanced Cantonese Words

Thumbnail

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

A Woman Marking Up a Study Book

Learn the advanced Cantonese words you need!

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

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

1. Academic Words

Graduation

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

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

2. Business Words

Business Diagram

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

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

3. Medical Words

Clinic

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

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

4. Legal Words

Gavel

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

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

5. General Advanced Words

進 - Progress

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

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

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

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

We know that learning a new language can be tiresome or even lonely, but with the right tools, you can master a language without all the struggling. With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through mobile apps, desktop software, and our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture.

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

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

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

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

Learn the Names of Animals in Cantonese

Thumbnail

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

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

A Couple Walking on the Beach with Their Dog

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

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

1. At Home (Pets)

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

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

Goldfish

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

2. On the Farm (Farm Animals)

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

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

Livestock

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


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

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

Forest

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

4. In the Ocean (Aquatic / Marine Animals)

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

Seafood

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


5. Bugs and Insects

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

Ladybug

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

6. Birds, Reptiles & Amphibians

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

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

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

Sparrow

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

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

7. Animal Body Parts

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

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


8. Animal Proverbs

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

1 – 豬乸會上樹

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

More about the proverb – 

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

A Cute Pig

2 – 掛羊頭賣狗肉

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

More about the proverb – 

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

3 – 大石砸死蟹

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

More about the proverb – 

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

4 – 牛唔飲水唔撳得牛頭低

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

More about the proverb – 

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

5 – 老貓燒鬚

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

More about the proverb – 

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

9. Bonus: The Twelve Zodiac Animals

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

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

Chinese Zodiac

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn Cantonese Phone Call Phrases

Thumbnail

Do you get nervous when the phone rings? 

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

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

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

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

A Woman on the Phone

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

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

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

1. Hello? 

A Woman Smiling and Confident while Doing a Video Call

Start the call with confidence!

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

#1

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

#2

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

2. Who is this?

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

Who are you? 

Asking who the other person is:

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

Telling the other person who you are:

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

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

3. I’m calling because…

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

Reason #1

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

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

Reason #2

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

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

Reason #3

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

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

4. I need to speak to someone…

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

Formal phrase #1

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

Formal phrase #2

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

Formal & informal

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

Informal phrase #1

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

Informal phrase #2

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

If he or she is not there…

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

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

5. Hold the line, please…

Two Girls Trying to Catch a School Bus

Wait! 

#1

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

#2

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

#3

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

6. Would you like to leave a message?

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

Would you like to leave a message?

#1

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

#2

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

#3

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

7. Please say it again…

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

#1

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

#2

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

#3

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

#4 

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

#5 

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

#6

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

8. Call you later! 

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

#1

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

#2

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

#3

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

#4

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

#5

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

#6

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

9. Sample Phone Conversations

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

Informal

Keira is asking Omelia out for a brunch: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Formal

Keira is now calling the restaurant to reserve a table:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Say “I Love You,” in Cantonese

Thumbnail

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Before a Date

Valentine’s Day

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

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

Are you free this weekend?

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

Would you like to hang out with me?

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

Would you like to go out to dinner with me?

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

I know a good place.

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

What time shall we meet tomorrow?

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

Where shall we meet?

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


2. On a Date

A Couple Having Dinner

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

You’re so handsome.

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

You’re so beautiful. 

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

You look great today.

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

That jacket looks nice on you.

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

You have a great sense of humor.

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

Your smile is beautiful.

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

You have good taste.

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

You have a way with words.

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

You are cute.

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


3. After a Date

A Cute Couple Looking into Each Other’s Eyes

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

That was a great evening.

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

I will drive you home.

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

What do you think of this place?

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

Can I see you again?

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

When can I see you again?

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

I’ll call you.

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

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

A Couple Being Intimate

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

I like you.

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

I love you.

Chinese Characters: 我愛你。
Romanization: ngo5 ngoi3 nei5

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

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

I miss you.

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

You made me a better person.

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


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

A Wedding

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

Let’s spend the rest of our lives together.

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

I want to grow old with you.

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

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

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

Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?

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

I want to be with you forever.

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

Will you marry me?

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

Having you by my side completes me.

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


6. Bonus: Endearment Terms and Love Quotes

A Lovely Kiss

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

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

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

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

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

Love is great….

1 – 人世間所有嘅相遇,都係久別重逢。

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

More about the quote

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

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

2 – 成世人流流長,總會愛上幾個人渣。

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

More about the quote

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

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

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

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

More about the quote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cantonese Negation: Learn How to Form Negative Sentences

Thumbnail

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

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

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

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

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

1. Negate a Statement

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

1 – Negating the past

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

The 1st Way

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

Example 1: 

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

Example 2: 

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

Udon

The 2nd Way:

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

Example 1: 

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

Example 2: 

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

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

2 – Negating the present

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

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

Example 1: 

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

Example 2: 

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

3 – Negating the future

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

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

Example 1:

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

Example 2: 

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

2. Give a Negative Response

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

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

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

Question: 

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

Answer: 

唔係。
m4 hai6
No, I am not.

A Group Conversation

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

Question: 

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

Answer: 

唔想。
m4 soeng2
No, I don’t want to.

3. Other Negating Words and Phrases

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

1. 好少

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

Example:

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

2. 從來唔

  • Romanization: cung4 loi4 m4
  • Meaning: never

Example:

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

3. 無再

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

Example:

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

An Exclamation Mark

4. 唔會再

  • Romanization: m4 wui5 zoi3
  • Meaning: no longer

Example:

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

5. 冇人

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

Example:

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

6. 都唔係

  • Romanization: dou1 m4 hai6
  • Meaning: neither

Example:

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

4. Double Negatives

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

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

Example 1: 

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

Example 2: 

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

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

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

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

A Clock

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

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

Indicating “the past”:

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

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

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

Indicating “the future”:

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

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

CantoneseClass101.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why learn Cantonese? Here are 10 compelling reasons.

Thumbnail

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

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

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

Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

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

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

1. Knowing Cantonese will unlock more career options.

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

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

2. It will help you navigate the city.

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

Victoria Peak, Hong Kong

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

3. Learning the language will broaden your horizons.

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

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

20 Hong Kong Dollar Notes

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

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

4. Cantonese will connect you with others.

Students Pointing at a Globe

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

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

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

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

Dim Sum

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

6. Cantonese will enrich your travel experience.

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

But there’s more to that! 

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

7. Knowing Cantonese will facilitate friendships with the locals.

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

A Group of Friends

A solid understanding of Cantonese can make your experience in the local Hong Kong markets, rural areas, and restaurants so much smoother and a lot more fun! And you’ll be able to make new local friends along the way and hone your friendships (or even a new romance!) with the local language.

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

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

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

There are many movies, dramas, and songs created in Hong Kong that are loved by people all over the world. Not everything gets translated, either. So unless you know Cantonese, you’re missing out on a lot of the amazing things that Cantonese pop culture has to offer.

9. Learning a new language trains your brain.

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

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

10. Cantonese is easy to learn.

Cantonese is straightforward!

For example, Cantonese grammar rules are simpler than those of many other languages. We don’t have tenses (past, future, past perfect, etc.) like English does, nor do we have grammatical gender like French.

Also, we’re quite direct when expressing ourselves. Many Cantonese learners, in an attempt to translate what is polite in their own language, actually make a mess of a sentence in Cantonese by adding a lot of unnecessary words. 

For example, take this sentence: “Would you mind going to the store for me, please?”

  • A native Cantonese speaker would ask: 你去士多? (nei5 heoi3 si6 do1)
  • Literal translation: “You go store?”

Many Westerners find it strange to be so concise, since this would feel rude to say in English. But finding places to add superfluous words (such as “please” and other common English niceties) is unnecessary. 

11. Why is CantoneseClass101 Great for Learning Cantonese?

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

CantoneseClass101.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Long Does it Take to Learn Cantonese?

Thumbnail

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

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

A Timer

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

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

Let’s get to it!

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

1. The Many Factors Involved

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

Cantonese vs. the languages you know

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

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

Your motivation

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

Your language learning resumé & age

A Resume

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

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

Are you planning to learn the Chinese characters too?

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

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

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

A Baby with Some Books

Beginner-Level Skills

  • CEFR Equivalent: A1-A2

Speaking & Listening

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

Reading & Writing

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

Duration

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

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

Tips

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

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

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

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

Middle School Students

Intermediate-Level Skills

  • CEFR Equivalent: B1

Speaking & Listening

At the intermediate level, you should be able to…

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

Reading & Writing

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

Duration

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

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

Tips

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

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

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

A Group of Adults in Discussion

Advanced-Level Skills

  • CEFR Equivalent: C1

Speaking & Listening

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

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

Reading & Writing

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

Duration

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

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

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

Tips

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

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

5. Tools to Facilitate Your Language Learning Journey

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

Online lessons

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

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

CantoneseClass101.com

Private schools and teachers 

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

Immersion

Immigration Entry Card

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

Why is CantoneseClass101 Great for Learning Cantonese?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cantonese Proverbs and Idioms

Thumbnail

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

Inspiration - a Woman with a Light Bulb above Her Head

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

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

1. Animal-Related Idioms

An Elephant

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

豬乸會上樹

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

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

掛羊頭賣狗肉

  • Romanization: gwaa3 joeng4 tau4 maai6 gau2 juk6
  • Literal Translation: Hang up a sheep’s head and sell dog meat
  • Meaning: Palm off
  • Additional Notes: Hong Kong prohibits the slaughtering of dogs or cats for use as food; you won’t actually find shops selling dog meat!

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

大石砸死蟹

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

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

牛唔飲水唔撳得牛頭低

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

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

老貓燒鬚

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

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

拉牛上樹

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

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

企喺城樓睇馬打交

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

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

騎牛搵馬

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

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

扯貓尾

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

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

捉到鹿唔識脫角

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

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

豬籠入水

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

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

打蛇隨棍上

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

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

邊有咁大隻蛤乸隨街跳

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

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

2. Ghost-Related Sayings

A Ghost

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

有錢使得鬼推磨

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

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

多個香爐多隻鬼

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

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

鬼揞眼

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

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

呃鬼食豆腐

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

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

3. Food-Related Sayings

A Table of Food

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

食鹽多過你食米

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

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

食碗面反碗底

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

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

禾稈冚珍珠

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

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

4. Sayings About People

A Group of People

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

和尚擔遮

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

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

一竹篙打一船人

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

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

醜婦終須見家翁

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

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

皇帝唔急太監急

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

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

5. Tree-Related Proverbs

A Tree

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

樹大有枯枝

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

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

刀仔鋸大樹

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

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

6. Other Sayings

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

打橫行

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

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

過橋抽板

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

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

摸門釘

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

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

風水輪流轉

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Brief Overview of Hong Kong Culture

Thumbnail

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

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

1. Core Values and Beliefs

Common Belief

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

A- The Harmony of East Meets West

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

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

B- Family-Oriented

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

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

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

2. Arts

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

A- Movie & Film

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

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

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

B- Music

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

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

C- Television

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

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

Someone pointing a remote at a TV

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

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

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

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


3. Food

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

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

A- Dim Sum

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

Dimsum

 點心 (romanization: dim2 sam1)

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

B- Roasted Goose

Roasted Goose

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

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

C- Clay Pot Rice

Clay Pot Rice

煲仔飯  (romanization: bou1 zai2 faan6)

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

D- Wonton Noodles

Wonton Noodles

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

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

E- Egg Tarts

Egg Tarts

蛋撻  (romanization: daan6 taat1)

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


4. Holidays

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

A- Chinese New Year

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

B- Christmas

A Christmas Tree

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

C- Dragon Boat Festival

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

D- Mid-Autumn Festival

A Mooncake

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

5. Bonus: Our Everyday Lives

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

A- Tai Chi

Martial Arts

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

B- Traditional Chinese Medicine

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

C- Protest

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

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

CantoneseClass101.com

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

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

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

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

Before you go, let us know in the comments how Cantonese culture compares to that in your country. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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

Must-Try Cantonese Foods, Dishes, and Snacks!

Thumbnail

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

A Happy Face

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

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

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

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

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

1. The Top 5 Must-Try Dishes

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

1 – Char siu egg rice

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

2 – Roasted goose

Roasted Goose

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

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

3 – Stir-fried beef with flat rice noodles

Stir-fried beef with flat rice noodles

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

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

 4 – Clay pot rice

Clay Pot Rice

煲仔飯  (bou1 zai2 faan6)

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

5 – Wonton noodles

Wonton Noodles

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

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

2. The Top 8 Dim Sum Dishes

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

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

1 – Roasted pork buns

Roasted Pork Buns

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

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

2 – Steamed shrimp dumplings

Steamed Shrimp Dumplings

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

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

3 – Rice noodle rolls

Rice Noodle Rolls

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

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

4 – Pork dumplings

Pork Dumplings

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

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

5 – Turnip cake

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

6 – Spring rolls

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

7 – Steamed beef tripe

Steamed Beef Tripe

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

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

8 – Dumpling soup

Dumpling Soup

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

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

3. At the Restaurant

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

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

4. The Top 5 Hong Kong Snacks

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

1 – Fish balls

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

2 – Egg tarts

Egg Tarts

蛋撻  (daan6 taat1)

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

3 – Egg waffle

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

4 – Pineapple bun

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

5 – Roasted sweet potatoes and chestnuts

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

5. Bonus: The Top 5 “Bizarre” Foods

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

1 – Steamed chicken feet

Steamed Chicken Feet

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

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

2 – Snake soup

Snake Soup

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

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

3 – Beef entrails

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

 4 – Soy-braised cuttlefish or chicken’s kidney

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

5 – Stinky tofu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before you go, let us know in the comments which Cantonese food you most want to try. We look forward to hearing from you.

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