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Lesson Transcript


Nicole: 大家好 (daai6 gaa1 hou2). I'm Nicole.
Matt: Hello, everyone. I'm Matt and welcome back to CantoneseClass101.com. This is the Absolute Beginner Season 1, Lesson 15.
Nicole: Okay, Matt, what are we learning today?
Matt: Today, we're going to learn ways to say that you're busy.
Nicole: This conversation takes place anywhere.
Matt: This conversation is between a pretty girl and a random guy.
Nicole: They're speaking casual Cantonese as usual.
Matt: All right, Nicole, let's move on to the dialogue.

Lesson conversation

嗨,靚女! (haai1, leng3 neoi5!)
咩事?(me1 si6?)
得唔得閒,飲杯嘢?(dak1 m4 dak1 haan4, jam2 bui1 je5?)
Sorry,我趕時間。(ngo5 gon2 si4 gaan3.)
English Host: One more time, a bit slower.
嗨,靚女!(haai1, leng3 neoi5!)
咩事?(me1 si6?)
得唔得閒,飲杯嘢?(dak1 m4 dak1 haan4, jam2 bui1 je5?)
Sorry,我趕時間。(ngo5 gon2 si4 gaan3.)
English Host: And now with the English translation.
嗨,靚女!(haai1, leng3 neoi5!)
Matt: Hey pretty girl
咩事?(me1 si6?)
Matt: What's the matter?
得唔得閒,飲杯嘢?(dak1 m4 dak1 haan4, jam2 bui1 je5?)
Matt: Do you have time? Fancy a drink?
Sorry,我趕時間。(ngo5 gon2 si4 gaan3.)
Matt: Sorry, I'm in a rush.
Matt: So we got the oldest excuse, the I'm busy excuse.
Nicole: Ah...我趕時間 (ngo5 gon2 si4 gaan3)
Matt: It's old but it's still useful.
Nicole: You'll need it. And we've got a couple more in our vocab section.
Matt: And these words that we're seeing in the excuses, you can use right away.
Matt: Let's move on to the vocabulary for this lesson. What's our first one, Nicole?
Nicole: 得閒(dak1 haan4) [natural native speed]
Matt: To have time or to be available.
Nicole: 得閒(dak1 haan4) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 得閒(dak1 haan4) [natural native speed]. 趕時間(gon2 si4 gaan3) [natural native speed]
Matt: To be in a rush.
Nicole: 趕時間(gon2 si4 gaan3) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 趕時間(gon2 si4 gaan3) [natural native speed]. 食餐飯(sik6 caan1 faan6) [natural native speed]
Matt: To have a meal.
Nicole: 食餐飯(sik6 caan1 faan6) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 食餐飯(sik6 caan1 faan6) [natural native speed]. 飲杯嘢(jam2 bui1 je5) [natural native speed]
Matt: To have a drink.
Nicole: 飲杯嘢(jam2 bui1 je5) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 飲杯嘢(jam2 bui1 je5) [natural native speed]. 睇部戲(tai2 bou6 hei3) [natural native speed]
Matt: To watch a movie.
Nicole: 睇部戲(tai2 bou6 hei3) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 睇部戲(tai2 bou6 hei3) [natural native speed]. 忙(mong4) [natural native speed]
Matt: Busy.
Nicole: 忙(mong4) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 忙(mong4) [natural native speed]. 有時間(jau5 si4 gaan3) [natural native speed]
Matt: To have time.
Nicole: 有時間(jau5 si4 gaan3) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 有時間(jau5 si4 gaan3) [natural native speed]. 冇時間(mou5 si4 gaan3) [natural native speed]
Matt: To not have time.
Nicole: 冇時間(mou5 si4 gaan3) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 冇時間 (mou5 si4 gaan3)[natural native speed]
Matt: Let's have a closer look at the usage for some of these words and phrases that we just went over.
Nicole: Okay, the first phrase is 忙(mong4)
Matt: This is busy.
Nicole: 忙(mong4)
Matt: Busy. And since that is an adjective, remember Nicole said in earlier lessons that when you want to put the adjective after a subject, that you'll need to stick好 in between.
Nicole: That's right. Like 好忙(hou2 mong4). It's literally very, very busy. But you're just saying that you're busy 好忙 (hou2 mong4).
Matt: Like, I'm busy.
Nicole: 我好忙(ngo5 hou2 mong4)
Matt: Or we are busy.
Nicole: 我哋好忙(ngo5 dei6 hou2 mong4)
Matt: Sorry, he's busy.
Nicole: 唔好意思,佢好忙。(m4 hou2 ji3 si1, keoi5 hou2 mong4.)
Matt: Sorry, they're busy.
Nicole: 唔好意思,佢哋好忙。(m4 hou2 ji3 si1, keoi5 dei6 hou2 mong4.)
Matt: Now, I remember in earlier lessons that we learned the opposite of busy.
Nicole: Right. 得閒(dak1 haan4)
Matt: To be free, to be available or to have time.
Nicole: 得閒 (dak1 haan4)
Matt: So another way to say you're busy is to say that you're not free.
Nicole: 唔得閒 (m4 dak1 haan4)
Matt: Not available. Just stick the negation in front.
Nicole: That's right 唔得閒 (m4 dak1 haan4). And if you're really, really busy, you can say 好唔得閒 (hou2 m4 dak1 haan4)
Matt: Really not available.
Nicole: 唔好意思,我好唔得閒(m4 hou2 ji3 si1 , ngo5 hou2 m4 dak1 haan4)
Matt: Sorry, I'm very busy or I don't have time at all.
Nicole: Right. You can also say 我冇時間 (ngo5 mou5 si4 gaan3)
Matt: Literally I don't have time.
Nicole: If we break that down, it would be 我(ngo5)
Matt: I.
Nicole: 冇(mou5)
Matt: Not to have.
Nicole: 時間(si4 gaan3)
Matt: Time. I not have time.
Nicole: 我冇時間(ngo5 mou5 si4 gaan3)
Matt: I don't have time
Nicole: From this phrase we can easily make another sentence 我有時間(ngo5 jau5 si4 gaan3)
Matt: Which is I have time.
Nicole: Right, the opposite 我(ngo5)
Matt: I.
Nicole: 有(jau5)
Matt: Have.
Nicole: 時間(si4 gaan3)
Matt: Time.
Nicole: 我有時間(ngo5 jau5 si4 gaan3)
Matt: I have time.
Nicole: In the dialog we heard 我趕時間(ngo5 gon2 si4 gaan3)
Matt: I'm in a rush.
Nicole: 我趕時間(ngo5 gon2 si4 gaan3)
Matt: Or literally I'm hurrying the time.
Nicole: 我趕時間(ngo5 gon2 si4 gaan3). And it means you have things to do or you have an errand to run.
Matt: Now can we add 好(hou2) to strengthen the degree of busyness?
Nicole: Sure. 我好趕時間 (ngo5 hou2 gon2 si4 gaan3).
Matt: Which is I'm really in a rush.
Nicole: Or if you want to specify why you are busy, you can say 我有事(ngo5 jau5 si6).
Matt: Which is I have things to do. To have.
Nicole: 有(jau5)
Matt: Then things.
Nicole: 事(si6)
Matt: I have things.
Nicole: 我有事(ngo5 jau5 si6)
Matt: Now that doesn't sound very specific, Nicole.
Nicole: Well it's comparatively concrete at least. 唔好意思我有事。(m4 hou2 ji3 si1 ngo5 jau5 .si6)
Matt: So what you're telling them is sorry I have things to do.
Nicole: That's right 唔好意思,我有事,我趕時間,我好忙。(m4 hou2 ji3 si1, ngo5 jau5 si6, ngo5 gon2 si4 gaan3, ngo5 hou2 mong4).
Matt: Wow. Sorry I have stuff to do, I'm in a rush. I'm busy.
Nicole: Right, stick in a few and they'll know you aren't in the mood for talk.
Matt: All right, sweet. So today we've learned five ways to say you're busy.
Nicole: 好忙。(hou2 mong4)
Matt: Very busy.
Nicole: 唔得閒(m4 dak1 haan4)
Matt: Not available.
Nicole: 冇時間(mou5 si4 gaan3)
Matt: To not have time.
Nicole: 趕時間(gon2 si4 gaan3)
Matt: To be in a rush.
Nicole: 有事(jau5 si6)
Matt: To have stuff or things to do.
Nicole: Yup. I think it should be enough for excuses.
Matt: Also you can mix and match any of these six.
Nicole: Or you can use them all together, that should scare people off.

Lesson focus

Matt: Now let's move on to our grammar section. We'll teach Cantonese measure words today.
Nicole: 好(hou2). Remember in Cantonese, we need different measure words for different objects, that why we are teaching them.
Matt: We've been trying to avoid these measure words for a little while now.
Nicole: Come on, it's not that hard.
Matt: True. But it is a process of accumulating vocabulary.
Nicole: And the measure words that we're teaching today are really simple and useful.
Matt: You'll hear them quite often and you'll be able to grasp them in no time.
Nicole: That's right. Before we go on to learn new ones, let's have a quick review of the old ones.
Matt: All right. Let's take a look at when we order a beer.
Nicole: Right. 支(zi1) we use 一支啤酒(jat1 zi1 be1 zau2)
Matt: The measure word for bottle.
Nicole: Right, 一支啤酒(jat1 zi1 be1 zau2)
Matt: A bottle of beer.
Nicole: 一支水(jat1 zi1 seoi2)
Matt: A bottle of water.
Nicole: And we have another very, very common measure word, 個(go3).
Matt: Ah the most common measure word.
Nicole: 一個(jat1 go3)pizza.
Matt: That's the measure word for a pizza.
Nicole: 兩個靚女(loeng5 go3 leng3 neoi5).
Matt: Which is two pretty girls. No matter how big the number is, the measure word stays the same.
Nicole: That's right. Just change the number to indicate the quantity. Like 三個 (saam1 go3),四個 (sei3 go3),五個 (ng5 go3)...
Matt: That was three of something, four of something, and five of something. All right, pretty easy so far. Today we're learning something just as easy.
Nicole: Right. The first measure word, 餐(caan1).
Matt: Is the measure word for meal.
Nicole: 餐(caan1)
Matt: Measure word for meal.
Nicole: We can say 一餐飯(jat1 caan1 faan6)
Matt: One meal.
Nicole: 兩餐飯(loeng5 caan1 faan6)
Matt: Two meals.
Nicole: 幾餐飯(gei2 caan1 faan6)
Matt: A few meals. If we break that down, the first sound is?
Nicole: 幾 (gei2)
Matt: A few.
Nicole: It's the same 幾(gei2) in 幾好(gei2 hou2)
Matt: Pretty good.
Nicole: Or the same 幾(gei2) in 幾時(gei2 si4)
Matt: When.
Nicole: We can say 幾餐飯(gei2 caan1 faan6)
Matt: A few meals or it can also be asking how many meals.
Nicole: Yeah, depending on the context. You can say 食幾餐飯 (sik6 gei2 caan1 faan6)
Matt: To have a few meals.
Nicole: Or 食餐飯 (sik6 caan1 faan6)
Matt: To have a meal. But note here, we didn't say the number 'one.'
Nicole: That's right. In Cantonese, we usually leave out the number one, 一 (jat1), when there's a verb in front of it. So instead of saying 食幾餐飯 (sik6 gei2 caan1 faan6). We say 食餐飯 (sik6 caan1 faan6).
Matt: Which still means to have a dinner.
Nicole: 一齊食餐飯 (jat1 cai4 sik6 caan1 faan6)
Matt: Let's have a meal together.
Nicole: Yes. And we can also use the measure word 個 (go3) for 飯 (faan6) which means rice. But when you do, it will mean a bowl of rice, because this 個 (go3) is a measure word for the ordering portion, not for a whole meal.
Matt: All right. Our next measure word is going to be very useful as well when we go to the bar.
Nicole: 杯(bui1)
Matt: This is the measure word for cups and glasses.
Nicole: 杯(bui1)
Matt: So a glass of water.
Nicole: 一杯水(jat1 bui1 seoi2)
Matt: Two glasses of juice.
Nicole: 兩杯果汁(loeng5 bui1 gwo2 zap1)
Matt: This glass of beer.
Nicole: 呢杯啤酒(ne1 bui1 be1 zau2)
Matt: That glass of water.
Nicole: 嗰杯水(go2 bui1 seoi2)
Matt: Or we can stick the measure word between the verb or we can stick the measure word between a verb phrase.
Nicole: Yeah, like we did in 食餐飯(sik6 caan1 faan6).
Matt: That's right
Nicole: So it would be 飲杯嘢(jam2 bui1 je5)
Matt: To have a drink.
Nicole: Right because 嘢(je5) is anything. It means anything. So if we want to say 飲杯水(jam2 bui1 seoi2).
Matt: To have a glass of water.
Nicole: You can also say 飲杯啤酒(jam2 bui1 be1 zau2).
Matt: To have a glass of beer. We usually have beer in a bottle though.
Nicole: Okay, then 飲支啤酒(jam2 zi1 be1 zau2).
Matt: To have a bottle of beer.
Nicole: Right. Now one last very common measure word is 部(bou6).
Matt: That's right. This is the measure word for bikes, cars, computers, cell phones or even movies.
Nicole: 部(bou6)
Matt: Like, a car.
Nicole: 一部車(jat1 bou6 ce1)
Matt: Two bikes.
Nicole: 兩部單車(loeng5 bou6 daan1 ce1)
Matt: This cell phone.
Nicole: 呢部手機(ne1 bou6 sau2 gei1)
Matt: A few movies.
Nicole: 幾部戲(gei2 bou6 hei3)
Matt: We've learned the phrase to watch movies.
Nicole: 睇戲(tai2 hei3)
Matt: So we can also stick the measure word in between.
Nicole: Right. 睇部戲(tai2 bou6 hei3). Or you can say 一齊睇部戲(jat1 cai4 tai2 bou6 hei3)
Matt: Which is let's see a movie.
Nicole: Or 我想睇部戲 (ngo5 soeng2 tai2 bou6 hei3)
Matt: This is I want to see a movie.
Nicole: 我想睇呢部戲 (ngo5 soeng2 tai2 ni1 bou6 hei3)
Matt: I want to see this movie.
Nicole: This is very useful. If you put the measure word between a subject and an object, it indicates possession. Like 我部車(ngo5 bou6 ce1) means my car.
Matt: That's right. We'll get into that in more advanced lessons. So today we've learned ways to say you're busy…
Nicole: 好忙(hou2 mong4)
Matt: And we've learned three common measure words.
Nicole: 餐(caan1) for meals, 杯(bui1) for glasses, 部(bou6) for cars and movies.
Matt: Now, we hope all our listeners will be busy while they're studying all these new measure words that we've given them. That just about does it for today. But Nicole, before we go, I'd like to share a tip that one of our listener shared with us.
Nicole: Ahh, you're talking about the student who uses just the conversation tracks to review the lessons.
Matt: You read my mind, Nicole. That's right. A listener of ours listens to each of the lessons several times.
Nicole: Then afterwards, gets the conversation only track from our site.
Matt: She then listens to them on shuffle over and over again. In this way she's created her own immersion program using CantoneseClass101.com.
Nicole: Yeah, that's a great idea. Please, please, please give it a try and let us know what you think.
Matt: All right. That's that. Thanks for listening.
Nicole: Thank you.


Please to leave a comment.
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CantoneseClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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If at first you don't succeed... try, try again. These words hold true both in romance and in language learning. Eventually you will win over the hard to obtain Cantonese language.

CantoneseClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 11:24 PM
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Hi Grace,

Really sorry about the late reply!

1) The word for meals - 餐 [caan1]

Yes, if you use it for the "measure word" only, dinner occasion is the only usage.

E.g. 一餐飯 [jat1 caan1 faan6] (literally: a meal of rice) = a meal

Alternatively, there are other "measure words" for a plate [jat1 dip6], a spoon [jat1 gang1], a tray [jat1 pun4], a bowl [jat1 wun2] etc.

Basically each container is itself a "measure word".

2) Omitting one

Yes, you're correct. If you leave out one, it's always referring to one. But there are nouns that native speakers don't omit the one. So far, there's no general rules. It is better to keep the one.


Team CantoneseClass101.com

Thursday at 02:59 PM
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Hi there

Could someone please respond to my question below?

It was posted a week ago.


Thursday at 12:17 PM
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I have a couple of questions:

Re: the measure word caan1 for meals, does this only refer to an entire meal - e.g., dinner occasion?

Because in English, 'meal' can refer to individual plates/dishes for individual people.

Re: the omission of the number one - yat1 - when using measure words - e.g., tai2 bou6 hei

Should the listener always assume in these instances that there is only one noun (in this case, movie)?


CantoneseClass101.com Verified
Friday at 04:28 PM
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Hello Hugh,

Thank you for your question.

The dialogue just suggests downloading the tracks by yourself and listening to them randomly, to train the listening skill. We don't yet have a function that would do all of it automatically. You can download our lessons via the browser or the app by clicking on the Download Audio/Video Lesson button (downward pointing icon).

Hope this helps. Feel free to let us know if you have any further questions.

Best regards,


Team CantoneseClass101.com

Friday at 01:33 PM
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At the end of the lesson there is mention of grouping the native speaker dialog into one place and shuffling through it to create an immersion lesson.

How do I do this on Android mobile device please?

Thank you!

CantoneseClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 04:25 PM
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Hi Nick,

Thanks for your question.

都 (dou1) means "also/too". You can find a detailed explanation and a coupe of sentences in this page. 😉



Team CantoneseClass101.com

Tuesday at 11:35 AM
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In the lesson notes, one of the sentences is 飲水都冇時間 and it says it means “I don’t even have the time to drink water.” In this sentence, what does dou1 mean? When would I know to use dou1 in other similar sentences? Could you maybe give a couple examples of sentences where you would use it?

Thank you so much. The advice is really helping me.

Looking forward to the response!


Sunday at 02:54 AM
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Hello Vincent,

You do not usually hear people completely speaking Cantonese in the written form. The news announcer usually uses the written and spoken form together during the news report. When comes to the poem and the lyrics of the Cantonese song, the written form is spoken most of the time. They sound incredibly beautiful when spoken in written form.

Speech Festival - the Cantonese poem starts from (0:57)


Jacky Cheung - 你的名字 我的姓氏(nei5 dik1 ming4 zi6 ngo5 dik1 sing3 si6) - Your first name My last name



Team CantoneseClass101.com

Sunday at 08:55 PM
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Can you give examples of settings or places where written Cantonese is actually spoken? For example, is written Cantonese spoken in television news, government offices, businesses, etc.? The lesson 7 vocabulary sentence "hau2 hot3 dik1 gau2 zoi6 hot3 wing6 ci4 leoi5 dik1 seoi2. The thirsty dog is drinking from the pool.") is actually being spoken aloud on audio. Who or where would that sentence be spoken aloud? Thank you, again!

Sunday at 01:57 PM
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Hello Vincent,

You may notice that all Chinese books, news report, written notice, article, poster, instruction menu or pamphlet are usually written in the written form which is more formal. When speaking daily conversation Cantonese speakers tend to use the spoken form. You are right in a sense that "written" Cantonese is simply not spoken out in the streets a lot.


Team CantoneseClass101.com