Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Nicole: Welcome back to CantoneseClass101, the place to learn and love Cantonese.
Matt: In this lesson, we are taking years of experience in China and boiling it down to a few essential phrases that are a great place to start in Cantonese.
Nicole: Yes these are real life Cantonese words that will help you every day!
Matt: That’s right, Guaranteed to be the best thing you ever learned in Cantonese. Nicole, where should we begin?
Nicole: Well, we want to make a good impression right off the bat, so I think one place is with “thank you”, m4 goi1.
Matt: Yes! m4 is the fourth tone, lowest tone in Cantonese, and goi1 is the first one, right?
Nicole: Yeah, the highest in Cantonese. And if you want to know more about the tones, you can easily find the episode All About Cantonese Tones on CantoneseClass101.com.
Matt: That’s right, I remember that episode. That's a whole episode full of singing.
Nicole: Right. Back to the word thank you. m4 goi1. This is a perfect example to compare the lowest and the highest tone in Cantonese, like riding a rollercoaster, you go from the bottom right up to the top.
Matt: How do you pronounce the lowest sound Nicole?
Nicole: That one's pretty easy. Keep your mouth closed and let the sound come from you throat. m4…. just like humming.
Matt: m4… easy.
Nicole: And goi1 rhymes with "boy". And then try to sing it out like gooooi1~~~
Matt: goooi1.
Nicole: Right but of course in conversation you don't need to be that dramatic to say a word. Here is just for explanation, m4 goi1.
Matt: Right. Cantonese love thank you so much that they’ll often hit you with a barrage of it.
Nicole: Yes, ‘m4 goi1 m4 goi1 m4 goi1 m4 goi1 m4 goi1 m4 goi1 m4 goi1 m4 goi1’. Well this is truly a rollercoaster,low high low high low high low high low high ….
Matt: Well I’m not sure if that’s a rollercoaster, sounds more like a chainsaw. Sometimes it’s not really thank you, but rather, thank you for getting out of here!
Nicole: That’s true sometimes it will be used in a way to get rid of you… or begging you to do something.
Matt: Oh yeah because it can mean "please" as well, it’s such a versatile word.
Nicole: Yes, "please please please please" get out of here...
Matt: But most of the time, it's used in genuine thanks.
Nicole: Definitely. And there are other m4 goi1 occasions too.
Matt: Like what?
Nicole: Well, I’ve noticed it been used in cases where they don’t know what the heck you are talking about.
Matt: That’s right, like ‘thank you for that… and whatever it was’. It’s quite cute.
Nicole: I guess sometimes there’s just nothing else that can be said, in a case like that!
Matt: But nonetheless, it’s the universal word for gratitude. We’ll leave the cultural lesson of discerning which kind of gratitude up to you.
Nicole: Sometimes you hear people say that out loud in a restaurant too, like "m4 goi1", really loud. That is to get attention, like "excuse me".
Matt:But I thought Cantonese people said everything out loud in a restaurant.
Nicole: Well we wanted to get your attention and it turned out that we did.
Matt:Yes you did. It was impossible not to have noticed.
Nicole: "m4 goi1", cheers! Okay. Of course we should also mention 你好 (nei3 hou2).
Matt: That’s right. Yes and if you don’t know 你好 (nei5 hou2), we don’t know where you’ve been. We’d be remiss if we didn’t teach you hello.
Nicole: That’s right. nei5 is the fifth tone, mid rising tone. and hou2 is the second. Also a rising tone, but high rising, like asking questions, hou2.
Matt: They are the only rising tones among the 6, right?
Nicole: Exactly. And this word nei5 hou2 perfectly group them together for comparison and for practice.
Matt: If you could say Hello, you are done with half of Cantonese sounds.
Nicole: Because in Cantonese tones they are either flat or rising.
Matt: Yeah. So this word...
Nicole: nei5 hou2.
Matt: literally means ‘you good’. Not a bad way to greet someone. Let's hear it again Nicole.
Nicole: nei5 hou2.
Matt: Now, unfortunately, a lot of these essential phrases stem from situations of confusion, which will happen a bit if you are learning the language. Therefore, we’re going to equip you well.
Nicole: On that note, the next one is for not understanding what someone is saying.
Matt: Which maaaay happen more often than not. It is literally ‘hear not understand’. They’re hearing you, just not understanding you. It may be a high frequency phrase, at first.
Nicole: Sometimes they’ll say it to you, if, say you use the wrong tones or something, 聽唔明 (teng1 m4 ming4).
Matt: Let’s have that one more time.
Nicole: 聽唔明 (teng1 m4 ming4). 聽唔明 (teng1 m4 ming4).
Matt: Well I'm gonna go out on a limp and try to guess what the tones are here.
Nicole: Ok, well I will feed you the first one. teng1 is the high and flat, the first tone.
Matt: You just took the easiest one!
Nicole: No, the easiest is the second one, m4, it's the same word same sound as the first word in m4 goi1, thank you
Matt: That’s right, the lowest humming word.
Nicole: Then the last word, ming4. What tone is that?
Matt: It's the same pitch as m4, right?
Nicole: Correct. So it’s the 4th tone.
Matt: Now this phrase is going to be your best friend. For example, sometimes Cantonese people get really excited if you greet them in Cantonese.
Nicole: Yes, because we love it when a foreigner can speak Cantonese.
Matt: So, after you say ‘nei5 hou2’, they may just come back at you with a barrage of Cantonese that you don’t understand.
Nicole: Yes, in such a case, be prepared to say, ‘teng1 m4 ming4’.
Matt: That’s right, it’s like the magic words. As soon as you get it out, the person immediately gets it.
Nicole: Yeah. These 3 words teng1 m4 ming4 seem to have dramatic effect…
Matt: And your counterpart will likely become very compassionate into your dilemma.
Nicole: But sometimes people say teng1 m4 ming4 because they want to play dumb…
Matt: or they don't want to continue the conversation with you anymore.
Nicole: True. but on average most Cantonese still want to talk to you.
Matt: See this is the best part about learning Cantonese with CantoneseClass101, you not only learn the language but you learn the layers beneath the language.
Nicole: Right. Stay with us if you want to learn the really cool Cantonese and know what they actually mean when they are saying teng1 m4 ming4 or twelve m4 goi1’s in a row.
Matt: That’s right. A similar and also very high frequency phrase in English is “I don't know”.
Nicole: Yeah, this is the must-learn phrase in every language. In Cantonese, i don't know is 唔知 (m4 zi1).
Matt: This sounds very like our first phrase for thank you. Do they share the same tones?
Nicole: Correct. Let's hear the first word first, m4 goi1.
Matt:While is “thank you”, or “excuse me”, or even “please”.
Nicole: And then the 2nd one "i don't know", 唔知 m4 zi1.
Matt:one more time?
Nicole:m4 zi1.
Matt:Which is "i don't know". Let’s have both together one more time for comparison, and listeners, make sure you’re repeating after us.
Nicole: Ok. m4 goi1. m4 zi1.
Matt:”Thank you”, and “I don’t know”, in that order. One more time?
Nicole: m4 goi1. m4 zi1.
Matt:The first one was ”Thank you”, and the 2nd one was “I don’t know”.
Nicole: So if you ask someone where is the his house and he replies m4 zi1...
Matt:that means he doesn't want you to know or is playing dumb.
Nicole:Exactly. Again, join us at CantoneseClass101.com, you can learn so much more than just the language.
Matt:That’s right. So, the top 4 phrases are down. What else do we have, what’s the last one, Nicole?
Nicole:對唔住 (deoi3 m4 zyu6)
Matt:”Sorry”, I hear that one often.
Nicole:對唔住 (deoi3 m4 zyu6)
Matt: Again we have m4 in here.
Nicole: That's great news,What could be better than learning a new phrase that includes old words?
Matt:Makes it a little bit easier. And the three tones of these three characters are 3 4 6, correct?
Nicole:Totally correct, You are getting better and better!
Matt:thank you, Nicole! I’ve been practicing. It's not easy to get recognition from you, you know.
Nicole: You are welcome.
Matt:And this easy phrase means ”Sorry”, which is a serious apology, not like “excuse me”.
Nicole: Right, like when you accidentally crack someone's laptop…
Matt:Or… after you threw someone’s cat out of the window.
Nicole: Right, that’s when you should say deoi3 m4 zyu6.
Matt:one more time?
Nicole:deoi3 m4 zyu6.
Matt:So here we have taught the top 5 phrases in Cantonese. But we also have a bonus phrase.
Nicole: Truly bonus. 我愛你 (ngo5 oi3 nei5).
Matt: Oh I love you too, Nicole.
Nicole: 我愛你 (ngo5 oi3 nei5).
Matt: “I love you”.
Nicole: I believe this is very powerful. When you are in love with a cantonese girl but you don't speak Cantonese yet. Throw out this phrase and she will be yours.
Matt: Yes, but you need to say it right and be sincere. Otherwise the girl might reply I don't understand.
Nicole: teng1 m4 ming4.
Matt: that might ruin your whole night.
Nicole: Right. Also you will need to know this phrase in case some cute guy says ngo5 oi3 nei5 in front of you. You will want to know what he’s saying.
Matt: I had a friend who learnt to say "i love you" in 10 different languages just to impress girls.
Nicole: Did he include the Cantonese one?
Matt: Not yet. I will make sure I send it to him.
Nicole: Good. So let's do a quick review of today's lesson.
Matt: Okay. The Top 5 Phrases in Cantonese. Number 5 being...
Nicole: 唔該 (m4 goi1)
Matt: “Thank you”, “please”, and even “excuse me”.
Nicole: And number 4, 你好 (nei5 hou2).
Matt: “You good?”, or “hello”. and now the number 3 phrase...
Nicole: 聽唔明 (teng1 m4 ming4).
Matt: “I don't understand”.
Nicole: Right. Number 2, 唔知 (m4 zi1).
Matt: “I don't know”. And now the number 1 phrase...
Nicole: 對唔住 (deoi3 m4 zyu6).
Matt: Which is “I'm sorry”.
Nicole: But we still have one more.
Matt: That’s right, the bonus phrase “I love you”.
Nicole: 我愛你 (ngo5 oi3 nei5)
Matt: I love you too, Nicole.
Nicole: Thank you, Matt.
Matt: That just does it for today. So come on in and learn with us at CantoneseClass101.com.