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Lesson Transcript

nei5 ho2, ngo5 hai6 Olivia. Hi everybody! I’m Olivia.
Welcome to CantoneseClass101.com’s “saam1 fan1 zung1 gwong2 dung1 waa2”. The fastest, easiest, and most fun way to learn Cantonese.
In the last lesson, we learned how to talk about your plans. In this lesson, we are going to deal with the verb to be in Cantonese, hai6. If you remember, we’ve mentioned it in lesson 1, in the sentence “I am...”. And yes, I’ve been using this phrase at the beginning of every lesson. ngo5 hai6 Olivia “I am Olivia”.
With this verb, we will also discuss how to talk about your nationality.
When you meet a new person in Hong Kong, they might ask you nei5 hai6 bin1 dou6 lei4 gaa3? which is the equivalent of "Where do you come from?"
You’re familiar with nei5, the word for "you."
hai6 is “to be”;
bin1 dou6 means "where?";
lei4 is "to come";
gaa3 is a question particle.
All together it's nei5 hai6 bin1 dou6 lei4 gaa3?
[slowly] nei5 hai6 bin1 dou6 lei4 gaa3?
Answering this question is very easy! You just say ngo5 hai6, which means "I am", then your nationality.
For example: ngo5 hai6 mei5 gwok3 jan4.
“I am American.”
[slowly] ngo5 hai6 mei5 gwok3 jan4.
Just replace “mei5 gwok3” with your own nationality.
"I am German" is ngo5 hai6 dak1 gwok3 jan4.
"I am Italian" is ngo5 hai6 ji3 daai6 lei6 jan4.
"I am Brazilian" is ngo5 hai6 baa1 saai1 jan4.
To return the question you can simply say nei5 le1? which is "And you?".
Other than nationality, you can also talk about your occupation by just replacing mei gwok3 jan4 “American”, with the occupation.
For example:
ngo5 hai6 leot3 si1. “I am a lawyer”
ngo5 hai6 hok6 saang1. “I am a student”
ngo5 hai6 gaau3 si1. “I am a teacher”
Now it’s time for Olivia’s tips.
Be careful because in Cantonese, we don’t use hai6 in front of verbs, only nouns.
For example:
It would be wrong to say ngo5 hai6 duk6 gan2 syu1 when you want to express “I am studying”. It should be just ngo5 duk6 gan2 syu1, literally “I studying”.
In this lesson we learned how to talk about nationalities.
Next time we’ll study the verb hai2 and we'll see how to use it to talk about locations. By the way, do you know how to ask someone where they are in Cantonese? I'll be waiting for you with the answer in the next “saam1 fan1 zung1 gwong2 dung1 waa2”.
Haa6 ci3 gin3!


Please to leave a comment.
😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

CantoneseClass101.com Verified
Friday at 06:30 PM
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Please answer the question you too! What is your nationality?

CantoneseClass101.com Verified
Monday at 04:06 PM
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Hi Adam,

Thanks for your sentences.

I've made a correction to your second sentence.

ngo5 **hok6** gaan1 gwong2 dung1 waa2. (hok6 means "to learn") 😉


Team CantoneseClass101.com

Monday at 01:34 PM
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ngo5 hai6 mei5 gwok3 jan4. 👍

ngo5 duk6 gaan1 syu1 gwong2 dung1 waa2.

CantoneseClass101.com Verified
Thursday at 04:24 PM
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Hi Dylan,

I would say 我係越南人 (ngo5 hai6 jyut6 naam4 jan4) ~ I am Vietnamese. 😉


Team CantoneseClass101.com

Thursday at 02:00 PM
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How would you say you’re Vietnamese?

Monday at 01:18 PM
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Hello Jasper,

我係加拿大人。(ngo5 hai6 gaa1 naa4 daai6 jan4.) ~ I am a Canadian. ?


Team CantoneseClass101.com

Saturday at 03:29 AM
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我係Canadian. How do you write Canadian?

Saturday at 09:56 AM
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Hello Isabella,

Thank you so much for your comment.

There is no better way to get the hang of the tones in Cantonese then by listening and practicing them yourself. If you have access to a native speaker of Cantonese, it is great practice to have them say words and have you repeat after them with the native speaker correcting you where necessary. Gradually, the tune of the tones will stick in your head.

You can also use the materials at CantoneseClass101.com to listen to native speakers' pronunciation in the MP3 recordings of the vocabulary, and repeat, repeat, repeat. Also, the voice recorder on the website allows you to hear and compare your pronunciation with the native speakers.

The following links provide lots of great material to learn more about the tones of Cantonese. Hope you find it useful. ?

Jyutping Chart


The Cantonese Tones


Cantonese Tones in Combination


Introduction to Perfect Cantonese Pronunciation


Ultimate Cantonese Pronunciation Guide - Cantonese Vowels



Team CantoneseClass101.com

Sunday at 03:19 AM
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Ngo5 hai6 mei5 gwok3 jan4.

This is making it so easy to learn cantonese. Although one thing I struggle with is tone. Any tips?

Tuesday at 11:44 PM
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Hi Llama Corn,

"I'm Australian" in Cantonese is 我係澳洲人 (ngo5 hai6 ou3 zau1 jan4) :wink:

So you're from Australia?


Team CantoneseClass101.com

Llama Corn
Friday at 07:03 PM
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I figured out what Australian is but I don't know how to spell it.