Dialogue - Cantonese

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Vocabulary

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邊度 bin1 dou6 where
wan2, waan2 to play
幾時 gei2 si4 when
soeng2 to want
澳門 ou3 mun2 Macau
mei6 yet, never
決定 kyut3 ding6 to decide, decision
暑假 syu2 gaa3 summer vacation

Lesson Notes

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Grammar

The Focus of this Lesson is Reviewing Interrogative Words
幾時去呀?
gei2 si4 heoi3 aa3?
"When are you going?"


 

 

In our Absolute Beginner series, we covered the main interrogative words. Let's review them once again because we'll be seeing them more and more in future lessons.

Examples from this dialog:

  1. 暑假去邊度玩?
    syu2 gaa3 heoi3 bin1 dou6 waan2?

    "Where are you going for summer holiday?"
  2. 幾時去呀?
    gei2 si4 heoi3 aa3?

    "When are you going?"

(mat1) is the interrogative word used to ask a "what" question. The word order of a Cantonese "what" question is very different from English. In English, the word "what" always comes at the beginning of the question, but in Cantonese the word order of the question will be the same as the answer. For example, the question "What do you want to eat?" is 你想食乜 (nei5 soeng2 sik6 mat1), and has the same word order as the answer: 我想食菜 (ngo5 soeng2 sik6 coi3) "I want to eat vegetables." Note how in the answer 乜 (mat1) is replaced by the new information.

 

Formation:

(subject) + (verb) + ?

For example:

  1. 你想食乜?
    nei5 soeng2 sik6 mat1?

    "What do you want to eat?"
  2. 我想食菜。
    ngo5 soeng2 sik6 coi3.
    "I want to eat vegetables."

 

(dim2) is the interrogative word used to ask a "how" question. It is usually followed by a verb to imply "how to," for example 點食 (dim2 sik6) "how to eat."

Formation:

(subject) + 點 + (verb phrase)?

For example:

  1. 呢個點食呀?
    ni1 go3 dim2 dik6 aa3?

    "How do you eat this?"

 

點解 (dim2 gaai2) is the interrogative word used to ask a "why" question. Its position in the sentence is flexible: it can occur either before or after the subject. As we mentioned above, 點 (dim2) means "how." When put together with the verb 解 (gaai2) "to interpret," its literal meaning is "how to interpret," hence "why."

Formation:

點解 + sentence ?

(subject) + 點解+ (verb phrase) ?

For example:

  1. 點解學廣東話?
    dim2 gaai2 hok6 gwong2 dung1 waa2?

    "Why (do you) learn Cantonese?"
  2. 你點解喊呀?
    nei5 dim2 gaai2 haam3 aa3?

    "Why do you cry?"/"Why are you crying?"

 

邊個 (bin1 go3) is the interrogative word used to ask a "who" question. Literally it is composed of 邊 (bin1) "which" and 個 (go3) "unit," therefore it also implies "which one." Regarding the word order, we put 邊個 (bin1 go3) in the same location as how the answer would appear.

For example:

  1. 你想見邊個?
    nei5 soeng2 gin3 bin1 go3?
    "Who do you want to see?"
  2. 我想見陳生。
    ngo5 soeng2 gin3 can4 saang1.
    "I want to see Mr. Chan."
  3. 邊個喺入面?
    bin1 go3 hai2 jap6 min6?
    "Who is inside?"
  4. Mary喺入面。
    Mary hai2 jap6 min6.
    "Mary is inside."

 

邊度 (bin1 dou6) is the interrogative word used to ask a "where" question. It is composed of two characters: 邊 (bin1) "which" and 度 (dou6) "place; location." and together they mean "where." In most cases, 邊度 (bin1 dou6) is placed at the end of the question sentence.

Formation:

(subject) + (verb) + 邊度 ?

 

For example:

  1. 你去邊度?
    nei5 heoi3 bin1 dou6?
    "Where are you going?"
  2. 廁所喺邊度?
    ci3 so2 hai2 bin1 dou6?
    "Where is the toilet?"
  3. 廁所喺後面。
    ci3 so2 hai2 hau6 min6.
    "The toilet is at the back."

 

幾時 (gei2 si4) is the interrogative word used to ask a "when" question. It is the combination of the words 幾 (gei2) "how much" and 時 (si4) "time."

Formation:

(subject) + 幾時 + (verb) ?

For example:

  1. 你幾時去香港?
    gei2 si4 heoi3 hoeng1 gong2?
    "When are you going to Hong Kong?"
  2. 我聽日去香港。
    ting1 jat6 heoi3 hoeng1 gong2.
    "I'll go to Hong Kong tomorrow."
  3. 幾時食飯?
    gei2 si4 sik6 faan6?
    "When to eat?"

 

幾多 (gei2 do1) is the interrogative word used to ask a "how many" or "how much" question. It is the combination of the words 幾 (gei2) "how much" and 多 (do1) "many."

Formation:

幾多 + (noun) + sentence ?

(subject) + (verb) + 幾多 + (noun) ?

For example:

  1. 幾多人去澳門?
    gei2 do1 jan4 heoi3 ou3 mun2?
    "How many people go to Macau?"
  2. 你有幾多錢?
    nei5 jau5 gei2 do1 cin2?
    "How much money do you have?"

 

Cheat Sheet


 

 

mat1

What

邊度

bin1 dou6

Where

幾時

gei2 si4

When

邊個

bin1 go3

Who

點解

dim2 gaai2

Why

dim2

How

幾多

gei2 do1

How many; How much

 

 

Language Expansion


 

 

Remember that in Cantonese, we don't necessarily have to put the interrogative words at the beginning of the sentence like in English. It's common to put them behind the verb, For example:

去邊度 (heoi3 bin1 dou6) [literally "to go where"]  → "Where to go"

見邊個 (gin3 bin1 go3) [literally "to see who"] → "Whom to see"

 

Cultural Insights

Popular Hong Kong Getaway Destinations

 


Many Hong Kong people go on a short trip during the weekend to get away from the bustling city life. The most popular destinations are Macau, Sai Kung, and outlying islands like Lantau Island and Lamma Island.

 

Macau is renowned for its casinos and rich culture. Although the tourism draw is largely based on gambling, we should not overlook the delicious fusioned Portuguese food and European architecture. A large section of Macau has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Sai Kung has always been a fishing harbor, where tourists can buy fresh seafood and ask nearby rstaurants to cook for you. Other than the famous seafood restaurants, Sai Kung town also offers laid-back coffee shops and small galleries.

Lantau Island is the largest island of Hong Kong. It is where the Tian Tan Buddha, Ngong Ping Cable Car, and Hong Kong International Airport are located.

 

Grammar

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Below is a list of the grammar points introduced or used in this lesson. Click for a full explanation.

邊度 (bin1 dou6)
where
Used

Lesson Transcript

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INTRODUCTION
Becky: Hello and welcome to the Lower Beginner series at CantoneseClass101.com. This is season 1, lesson 1, Planning a Summer Vacation in Cantonese. I’m Becky.
Olivia: 哈囉 (haa1 lo3) ! And I’m Olivia!
Becky: Together we'll guide you through the Lower Beginner series.
Olivia: That’s right. So get ready and…enjoy!
Becky: Yes, because it's fun to learn Cantonese!
Olivia: And we’re here to make your experience easy and productive! Okay, Becky, what are we learning in this lesson?
Becky: In this lesson you’ll learn how to use interrogative words to talk about where to go for holidays.
Olivia: The conversation takes place in an apartment in Hong Kong.
Becky: The conversation is between two friends, Karen and Olivia.
Olivia: They're using casual Cantonese.
Becky: Let’s listen to the conversation.
DIALOGUE
Karen: 暑假去邊度玩?(syu2 gaa3 heoi3 bin1 dou6 waan2?)
Olivia: 想去澳門。(soeng2 heoi3 ou3 mun2.)
Karen: 幾時去呀?(gei2 si4 heoi3 aa3?)
Olivia: 未決定。(mei6 kyut3 ding6.)
Becky: Let’s hear the conversation one time slowly.
Karen: 暑假去邊度玩?(syu2 gaa3 heoi3 bin1 dou6 waan2?)
Olivia: 想去澳門。(soeng2 heoi3 ou3 mun2.)
Karen: 幾時去呀?(gei2 si4 heoi3 aa3?)
Olivia: 未決定。(mei6 kyut3 ding6.)
Becky: Now let’s hear it with the English translation.
Karen: 暑假去邊度玩?(syu2 gaa3 heoi3 bin1 dou6 waan2?)
Becky: Where are you going for summer holiday?
Olivia: 想去澳門。(soeng2 heoi3 ou3 mun2.)
Becky: I want to go to Macau.
Karen: 幾時去呀?(gei2 si4 heoi3 aa3?)
Becky: When are you going?
Olivia: 未決定。(mei6 kyut3 ding6.)
Becky: I haven't decided.
POST CONVERSATION BANTER
Becky: Is Macau where people in Hong Kong usually go on their holidays?
Olivia: Well, Macau is about a one-hour ferry ride from Hong Kong, so some people like to spend a day or two there for a short trip.
Becky: Where else do they go for short trips?
Olivia: Sometimes they go to the “outlying islands” 離島. (lei4 dou2.)
Becky: Oh! I’ve heard that Hong Kong has a lot of outlying islands.
Olivia: That’s right! The most popular one is called Lamma Island. Many expats prefer to stay there instead of the bustling city center. So gradually it has evolved from a fishing village to a laid-back multicultural community.
Becky: That sounds nice. I’d like to visit there some day. Okay, now onto the vocab.
VOCAB LIST
Becky: Let's take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson. The first word is..
邊度 (bin1 dou6) [natural native speed]
where
邊度 (bin1 dou6) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
邊度 (bin1 dou6) [natural native speed]
Next:
玩 (wan2, waan2) [natural native speed]
to play
玩 (wan2, waan2) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
玩 (wan2, waan2) [natural native speed]
Next:
幾時 (gei2 si4) [natural native speed]
when
幾時 (gei2 si4) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
幾時 (gei2 si4) [natural native speed]
Next:
想 (soeng2) [natural native speed]
to want
想 (soeng2) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
想 (soeng2) [natural native speed]
Next:
澳門 (ou3 mun2) [natural native speed]
Macau
澳門 (ou3 mun2) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
澳門 (ou3 mun2) [natural native speed]
Next:
未 (mei6) [natural native speed]
yet
未 (mei6) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
未 (mei6) [natural native speed]
And Last:
決定 (kyut3 ding6) [natural native speed]
to decide, decision
決定 (kyut3 ding6) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
決定 (kyut3 ding6) [natural native speed]
KEY VOCAB AND PHRASES
Becky: Let’s take a closer look at the usage of some of the words and phrases from this lesson. What are we starting with?
Olivia: 暑假. (syu2 gaa3.)
Becky: What does each word mean?
Olivia: 暑 (syu2) means “hot (temperature)” or “summer heat”, and 假 (gaa3) means “holiday”.
Becky: So together they mean “summer holiday”. Can you repeat it please?
Olivia: 暑假. (syu2 gaa3.)
Becky: Ok. What’s next?
Olivia: Next is 想. (soeng2.)
Becky: What can you tell us about this?
Olivia: 想 (soeng2) literally means “to think”. However, in most casual situations, it means “to want to” or “to desire”. For example, 想去 (soeng2 heoi3) meaning "to want to go," 想食 (soeng2 sik6) meaning "to want to eat."
Becky: Can you repeat the word for us again? Listeners, repeat after Olivia.
Olivia: 想去 (soeng2 heoi3) [pause] And here’s a sentence - 我想去香港. (ngo5 soeng2 heoi3 hoeng1 gong2.)
Becky: It means “I want to go to Hong Kong.”
Olivia: And another sentence - 我想食春卷. (ngo5 soeng2 sik6 ceon1 gyun2.)
Becky: “I want to eat spring rolls.” Well now that you’ve mentioned it, I really do! Okay, now onto the grammar.

Lesson focus

Becky: In this lesson, we’ll review the interrogative words we talked about in the Absolute Beginner series. You’re going to see them throughout this series and in the future, so it’s important to build a strong foundation in this category.
Olivia: That’s right.
Becky: In this dialog, we used “where” in the first sentence.
Olivia: Yes, and it’s 邊度. (bin1 dou6.)
Becky: Meaning “Where”
Olivia: Do you remember which other interrogative word also used the word 邊? (bin1 ?)
Becky: Is it “who”?
Olivia: That’s right, we say 邊個. (bin1 go3.) Note that it means “which one” as well as “who”. Please repeat after me, 邊度 (bin1 dou6) [pause]
Becky: “Where”
Olivia: and 邊個 (bin1 go3) [pause]
Becky: “Who”, or “which one”. Now, in the third sentence of the dialog, we hear another interrogative word, “When”.
Olivia: 幾時. (gei2 si4 .)
Becky: Can you break these two characters down?
Olivia: Yes, 幾 (gei2) means “several” or “how much”, while 時 (si4) comes from 時間 (si4 gaan1), which means “time”.
Becky: So together they mean “what time” or “when”.
Olivia: That’s right. 幾 (gei2) is a very handy word to ask questions.
Becky: Can you give us some more examples?
Olivia: Certainly,幾多 (gei2 do1)means “how many” or “how much”, in which the second character, 多 (do1), means “many”.
Becky: Listeners, please check the lesson notes for a full list of interrogative words and sample sentences. And before we go, we want to remind you that you don’t necessarily have to put the interrogative words at the beginning of the sentence.
Olivia: It’s also common to put them behind the verb. For example: 去邊度. (heoi3 bin1 dou6.)
Becky: literally “to go where”, meaning “Where to go”.
Olivia: and 見邊個. (gin3 bin1 go3.)
Becky: literally “to see who”, meaning “Whom to see”. So now you should be able to pick up the key words in questions and understand whether they are about a place, time, or people.

Outro

Becky: Well listeners, that’s all for this lesson! Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you in the next lesson. Bye!
Olivia: 拜拜!( baai1 baai3 !)