Dialogue - Cantonese



daa2 to hit
faai3 measure word for face
搞錯 gaau2 co3 to get something wrong
min6 face
man1 mosquito
唔好 m4 hou2 don't
juk1 to move
dou1 also

Lesson Notes



The Focus of This lesson is on Saying "don't" in Cantonese
"I'm hitting the mosquitoes! Don't move!"

Our grammar focus this lesson is on learning a very simple sentence structure you can use to tell other people not to do things. In our dialogue, we see this in the line 唔好郁 m4 hou2 juk1 ("don't move").  The structure here is starting a sentence with 唔好 ("don't") and then following it with a verb like 郁 ("to move"). In our dialogue one of the speakers was telling someone else not to move. But you can use this pattern with any verb. Other common examples might include the sentences, 唔好喊 m4 hou2 haam3 ("don't cry") or 唔好笑 m4 hou2 siu3 ("don't laugh"). As a relatively informal way of speaking, the seriousness of the request depends heavily on your tone of voice.

On a final note: while this sentence pattern is used to give negative orders, you can always follow it with a positive verb if you want to tell someone exactly what to do. A good example of this is the sentence we used in our podcast: 唔好瞓,做嘢 m4 hou2 fan3, zou6 je5 ("Don't sleep, work!") which Gimmy frequently heard from her former boss. In this case the subject "you" is implied and it isn't necessary to specify to whom you are talking.

Cultural Insights

An Ever-present Pest


The weather in Hong Kong is renowned for being hot and humid year round. While long-time residents often take pride in their ability to deal with the island's extreme heat and humidity, few have any fondness for the dreaded Hong Kong mosquitoes. Although you will run into these insects year round, they are especially common during the island's wet season, which lasts from June through August each year. Conditions are also slightly worse on the mainland than in the outlying islands, where reasonably strong ocean breezes often keep the creatures in check.

Practically speaking, there is little one can do to deal with mosquitoes on a day-to-day basis. Most island residents handle mosquitos the same way they deal with Hong Kong's heat and humidity: retreating into a world of air conditioned offices and transit vehicles. And while mosquitoes these days may be little more than a nuisance, when renting an apartment or turning in for the night in a cheaper hotel room it is wise to check the windows to ensure they are properly screened.

Lesson Transcript



David: Welcome to CantoneseClass101.com. I'm David.
Gimmy: 大家好, 我係 Gimmy. (daai6 gaa1 hou2, ngo5 hai6 Gimmy.)
David: And we're here with Beginner Season 1, Lesson 1.
Gimmy: Mosquitoes in Hong Kong.
David: Right. Even on the island, they're everywhere.
Gimmy: They're everywhere. They can even take the elevators.
David: And they are nasty little creatures. So we've got a dialog about two people who are struggling in their apartment.
Gimmy: Yep.
David: Right. If you've been in Hong Kong in the summer, you're going to understand what they're going through.
Gimmy: Exactly.
David: Let's get to the dialog.

Lesson conversation

有蚊呀!⋯⋯死咗!(jau5 man1 aa3!...... sei2 zo2!)
搞錯呀,你打我?(gaau2 co3 aa3, nei5 daa2 ngo5?)
打蚊呀!唔好郁!(daa2 man1 aa3! m4 hou2 juk1!)
哎呀!你塊面都有蚊呀。(aai1 jaa3! nei5 faai3 min6 dou1 jau5 man1 aa3.)
David: One more time, a bit slower.
有蚊呀!⋯⋯死咗!(jau5 man1 aa3!...... sei2 zo2!)
搞錯呀,你打我?(gaau2 co3 aa3, nei5 daa2 ngo5?)
打蚊呀!唔好郁!(daa2 man1 aa3! m4 hou2 juk1!)
哎呀!你塊面都有蚊呀。(aai1 jaa3! nei5 faai3 min6 dou1 jau5 man1 aa3.)
David: And now, with the English translation.
有蚊呀!⋯⋯死咗!(jau5 man1 aa3!...... sei2 zo2!)
There's a mosquito!...It's dead.
搞錯呀,你打我?(gaau2 co3 aa3, nei5 daa2 ngo5?)
What on earth? You hit me!
打蚊呀!唔好郁!(daa2 man1 aa3! m4 hou2 juk1!)
I'm hitting the mosquitoes! Don't move.
哎呀!你塊面都有蚊呀。(aai1 jaa3! nei5 faai3 min6 dou1 jau5 man1 aa3.)
Aah! There's mosquitoes on your face too.
David: This hits a bit close to home, Gimmy.
Gimmy: Oh yeah, I absolutely hate mosquitoes.
David: Yeah, and in the summer especially when it's hot.
Gimmy: And humid.
David: Humid in Hong Kong.
Gimmy: Yeah.
David: The worst. Anyway, we hope your apartment screens are okay.
Gimmy: Yeah, that's absolutely necessary.
David: Absolutely essential. Yeah. And our vocab today is filled with really useful words. So let's get to the vocab section.
Gimmy: Great. The first one.
Gimmy: 蚊 (man1) [natural native speed]
David: Mosquito.
Gimmy: 蚊 (man1) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 蚊 (man1) [natural native speed].
Gimmy: 打 (daa2) [natural native speed].
David: To hit.
Gimmy: 打 (daa2) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 打 (daa2) [natural native speed].
Gimmy: 唔好 (m4 hou2) [natural native speed].
David: Don't.
Gimmy: 唔好 (m4 hou2) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 唔好 (m4 hou2) [natural native speed].
Gimmy: 都 (dou1) [natural native speed].
David: Also.
Gimmy: 都 (dou1) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 都 (dou1) [natural native speed].
Gimmy: 郁 (juk1) [natural native speed].
David. To move.
Gimmy: 郁 (juk1) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 郁 (juk1) [natural native speed].
Gimmy: 面 (min6) [natural native speed].
David: Face.
Gimmy: 面 (min6) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Gimmy: 塊 (faai3) [natural native speed].
David: The measure word for face.
Gimmy: 塊 (faai3) [slowly - broken down by syllable].
David: Let's have a closer look at some of these words and phrases.
Gimmy: Right. The first word we want to talk about is... 打 (daa2) [natural native speed]
David: To hit.
Gimmy: 打 (daa2) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 打 (daa2) [natural native speed].
David: To hit. And we see it in this line in our dialog:
Gimmy: 你打我. (nei5 daa2 ngo5.)
David: You hit me.
Gimmy: 你打我. (nei5 daa2 ngo5.) 打蚊呀. (daa2 man1 aa3.)
David: I'm hitting the mosquitoes.
Gimmy: 打蚊呀 (daa2 man1 aa3)
David: I'm hitting the mosquitoes.
Gimmy: Right, we're using the word for the action "to hit".
David: Right, so you're using your hand to hit something. And there are some other words with this, though, we are not hitting stuff.
Gimmy: In a way, they are. For example, making a phone call, 打電話. (daa2 din6 waa2.)
David: To make a phone call.
Gimmy: 打電話 (daa2 din6 waa2)
David: And the action here is because you're hitting the touchpad.
Gimmy: That's why I said, some way, it is, yes.
David: So you are. Yeah, yeah.
Gimmy: So when you meet someone and you wanted to be connected.
David: Yeah.
Gimmy: You can say 打電話俾我. (daa2 din6 waa2 bei2 ngo5.)
David: Which is “give me a call”.
Gimmy: 打電話俾我. (daa2 din6 waa2 bei2 ngo5.)
David: Another example is the action to greet someone.
Gimmy: Yeah, that's a very useful one, 打招呼 (daa2 ziu1 fu1).
David: To greet someone.
Gimmy: 打招呼 (daa2 ziu1 fu1).
David: And that's basically waving.
Gimmy: Yes.
David: Where it's of like hitting the air.
Gimmy. Yes.
David: Right.
Gimmy: But you can always say it in opposite way, 唔好打招呼 (m4 hou2 daa2 ziu1 fu1).
David: Right, “don't greet them”.
Gimmy: If you don't like that person.
David: Yeah.
Gimmy: 唔好打招呼. (m4 hou2 daa2 ziu1 fu1.)
David: Right. The next verb we want to highlight is.
Gimmy: 郁 (juk1)
David: To move.
Gimmy: 郁. (juk1.) We heard this in the dialog, 唔好郁. (m4 hou2 juk1.)
David: Don't move.
Gimmy: 唔好郁 (m4 hou2 juk1).
David: Don't move. This is something you might hear the police say.
Gimmy: Well, that means it's not a good situation.
David: Hopefully not. But right.
Gimmy: That might be a good stuff too when you're taking a photo.
David: Right. Someone might say, "Don't move, cheese."
Gimmy: Yeah, 唔好郁,笑. (m4 hou2 juk1, siu3.)
David: Don't move, smile.
Gimmy: 唔好郁,笑. (m4 hou2 juk1, siu3.)
David: So that's our vocab section today. Two critical verbs. The first...
Gimmy: 打 (daa2)
David: Is used for hitting or doing this with your hand.
Gimmy: Right.
David: The second.
Gimmy: 郁 (juk1)
David: Means to move.
Gimmy: 郁 (juk1)
David: And with that, let's get to our grammar section.

Lesson focus

David: So Gimmy, what's your grammar focus for this lesson?
Gimmy: It's how to say “don't” in Cantonese.
David: Right. So telling people not to do things.
Gimmy: Right.
David: In our dialog, we heard this in the following line.
Gimmy: 唔好郁. (m4 hou2 juk1.)
David: Don't move.
Gimmy: 唔好郁. (m4 hou2 juk1.)
David: Let's break this down for people.
Gimmy: Yeah, it's always 唔好 (m4 hou2) plus a verb.
David: Right, so literally “not good” and then the verb.
Gimmy: Yes, 唔好喊. (m4 hou2 haam3.)
David: And that's, don't cry.
Gimmy: When you see a girl that's crying, that's what you're supposed to say.
David: Poor guy.
Gimmy: Yeah.
David: So don't cry.
Gimmy: 唔好喊. (m4 hou2 haam3.)
David: Right. Or maybe your friends try to call another friend and you say, "Don't, no, no, don't call him."
Gimmy: 唔好打俾佢. (m4 hou2 daa2 bei2 keoi5.)
David: It's only going to make things worse. Don't call.
Gimmy: 唔好打俾佢. (m4 hou2 daa2 bei2 keoi5.)
David: Right. So we're putting this at the front of sentences, and we're using it to give orders.
Gimmy: Yes. And let me give you another example. I used to have a boss that's pretty mean, and he always say, 唔好瞓覺,做嘢. (m4 hou2 fan3 gaau3, zou6 je5.)
David: Don't sleep, Work.
Gimmy: 唔好瞓覺,做嘢. (m4 hou2 fan3 gaau3, zou6 je5.)
David: Don't Sleep. Work. And people are probably thinking that it's crazy, but in Hong Kong, I mean, people keep insane work hours.
Gimmy: Yeah. So during the middle of the day, you kind of need that nap.
David: Some people, you know, the nap is not that bad. Anyway, that's our lesson for today.
Gimmy: Yes.


David: Before we go, Gimmy, there's something you wanted to remind people.
Gimmy: Don't forget to check out our PDF file on the site.
David: Right. It's in the premium learning center and it has a copy of the transcript, the vocab, we've got the grammar point there as well as the cultural insight that teach you a bit about Hong Kong.
Gimmy: Right.
David: So be sure to check that out. For now, though, we've done our lesson.
Gimmy: Be sure to check us out online.
David: And we'll see you next time.
Gimmy: 下次見. (haa6 ci3 gin3.)
David: Bye-bye.