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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 the most common forms of greetings in Cantonese. Do you remember them?
In this lesson we’re going to learn a very useful phrase: “Do you speak English?”
If you find yourself in a situation where you need assistance in English, this phrase can be a lifesaver. And because you’re asking it in Cantonese, you can be sure that everyone will understand what you’re saying, even if their answer is no.
Here's how to say it:
nei5 sik1 m4 sik1 gong2 jing1 man2?
[slowly] nei5 sik1 m4 sik1 gong2 jing1 man2?
Let’s break it down.
In the last lesson, we mentioned that Nei5 means “you”. sik1 m4 sik1 is a form used to introduce the question using the verb “to know”. It literally means "know don't know", but this is how we form the question "Do you know how to..?" Then we have the verb “to speak”, gong2, followed by jing1 man2, which means “English.”
Literally, it means “You know or not know English?”
nei5 sik1 m4 sik1 gong2 jing1 man2 ?
To learn more about forming Cantonese questions, please look at our Absolute Beginner series on CantoneseClass101.com. You can find very detailed grammar lessons and resources there!
To make this sentence more polite, we just need to add “Excuse me” m4 ho2 ji3 si1 in the front. Everything else stays the same:
m4 ho2 ji3 si1, nei5 sik1 m4 sik1 gong2 jing1 man2 ?
[slowly] m4 ho2 ji3 si1, nei5 sik1 m4 sik1 gong2 jing1 man2 ?
The responses you will receive could be one of these three:
sik1 "Yes."
[slowly] sik1
siu2 siu2 "A little."
[slowly] siu2 siu2
m4 sik1 "No."
[slowly] m4 sik1
Since this last one is a negative statement, we see the negative word m4 before the verb “to know” sik1. m4 sik1. Did you notice that it's the same word used in 識唔識? We’ll talk more about it in a future lesson.
Now it’s time for Olivia’s Insights.
For those of you who are not only English speakers, you can obviously use this question with any language you need. Many people in Hong Kong study other languages, so maybe you will get lucky! Just substitute jing1 man2 with…
jat6 man2 for Japanese.
saai1 baan1 aa4 man2 for Spanish.
dak1 man2 for German.
ji3 daai6 li6 man2 for Italian.
In this lesson we mentioned the expression m4 ho2 ji3 si1. But did you know that this could also be used as an apology? In the next lesson we will learn this and other ways to apologize in Cantonese. It’s never too late to show your good manners!
I'll see you in our next saam1 fan1 zung1 gwong2 dung1 waa2 lesson. Haa6 ci3 gin3!