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Lesson Transcript

大家好(daai6 gaa1 hou2)! Hello and welcome to Cantonese Survival phrases brought to you by cantoneseclass101.com, my name is Nicole and I will be your language teacher and culture guide throughout this course. This course is designed to equip you with the language skills and knowledge to enable you to get the most out of your visit to Hong Kong or anywhere else in the Cantonese world. You will be surprised at how far a little Cantonese will go. Now before we jump in, remember to stop by cantoneseclass101.com and there you will find the accompanying PDF and additional info in this post. If you stop by, be sure to leave us a comment.
Cantonese survival phrases, #16. Counting. This lesson is very straightforward as we are going to cover counting 0 through 10. Let’s jump right in. 0 零(ling4), 1一(jat1), 2二( ji6), 3 三(saam1), 4四(sei3), 5五(ng5), 6 六 (luk6), 7 七(cat1), 8 八(baat3), 9 九(gau2), 10十(sap6). All right that’s all from 0 to 10. Counting things in Cantonese can be a bit tricky as there are different measure words for different types of objects but don’t worry. So far, we have already learned two of them including the most common measure word 個(go3). Now let’s have a quick review. The first measure word we’ve learned is when we want to make a reservation 個(go3). 位(wai2) seat 位(wai2) seat. 兩位(loeng5 wai2) Two seat but it actually means two people as well and 位(wai2) is also a polite way and formal way of saying a person 位(wai2). 一位(jat1 wai2) one person 兩位(loeng5 wai2) two people 三位(saam1 wai2) three people and next we have the most common measure word in Cantonese 個(go3),個(go3). It’s a mid flat tone 個(go3). You can use it to describe both people and things. 一個人(jat1 go3 jan4) One person 兩個杯(loeng5 go3 bui1) two cups. Now let’s learn how to use the number to describe the quantity of the object.
First, we have the number let’s say one 一(jat1) followed by the measure word 個(go3) and then comes the noun 人(jan4) person. 一個人(jat1 go3 jan4) one person. Let’s hear it again 一個人(jat1 go3 jan4) one person. If there are five people you have 五個人(ng51 go3 jan4). First we have the number 五(ng5) five. Then we have the measure word 個(go3) and finally we have the noun 人(jan4) person. 五個人(ng51 go3 jan4) five people. Now in Cantonese, we don’t change the form of the noun. We don’t have singular or a plural form of the noun. So that should make it easier to remember. For five people, you only have to change the number 五個人(ng51 go3 jan4) instead of 一個人(jat1 go3 jan4). Now numbers can be very useful especially when shopping in Hong Kong or in the Hong Kong restaurant.
Let’s imagine you are sitting in a Hong Kong restaurant and you are ready to order. Now first you would like to order some drinks let’s say a bottle of beer. Now we’ve learned the word for beer before 啤酒(be1 zau2). Let’s hear it again 啤酒(be1 zau2). Now to order one bottle of beer, we first have the number one 一(jat1) and then the measure word for bottle 枝(zi1), 枝(zi1). Now this is a high flat tone 枝(zi1). Finally we have the word for beer 啤酒(be1 zau2),啤酒(be1 zau2). Now put all this together 一枝啤酒( jat1 zi1 be1 zau2) one bottle of beer 一枝啤酒( jat1 zi1 be1 zau2) one bottle of beer. Now what if you want two beers? What you have to do is you only need to change the word for the number. So instead of saying one 一(jat1) you say two 兩(loeng5), 兩(loeng5). Now this is a bit different from the word we learned for a regular 2 二( ji6) because when we order, instead of saying 二( ji6) we use the colloquial 2兩(loeng5). Now let’s hear it one more time 兩(loeng5), 兩(loeng5). It’s a mid rising tone. Say it like you are asking a question 兩(loeng5), 兩(loeng5). So we replace 一(jat1) with 兩(loeng5) and the phrase becomes 兩枝啤酒(loeng5 zi1 be1 zau2), 兩枝啤酒( loeng5 zi1 be1 zau2). That’s two bottle of beer and then you’d like to order some 點心(dim2 sam1). Let’s say 蝦餃(haa1 gaau2) Shrimp dumplings. That’s very delicious, I promise. Shrimp dumplings 蝦餃(haa1 gaau2), 蝦餃(haa1 gaau2) and it’s literally shrimp dumplings 蝦 餃(haa1 gaau2), 蝦餃(haa1 gaau2) . Now you like to order three. You can say 三個蝦餃(saam1 go3 haa1 gaau2). Here we first have the number three 三(saam1) followed by the measure word 個(go3). That’s the most common Cantonese measure word 個(go3) and finally we have the noun 蝦餃(haa1 gaau2), 三個蝦餃(saam1 go3 haa1 gaau2). And we’ve also learned this structure to order. That’s 我要(ngo5 jiu3) I like, 我要(ngo5 jiu3) I’d like. 我要三個蝦餃(ngo5 jiu3 saam1 go3 haa1 gaau2). I like three shrimp dumplings 我要三個蝦餃(ngo5 jiu3 saam1 go3 haa1 gaau2). Let’s hear it one more time 我要三個蝦餃(ngo5 jiu3 saam1 go3 haa1 gaau2). And eventually when you are traveling to Hong Kong, you like to go shopping or maybe buy a T-Shirt for yourself. I love Hong Kong T-Shirts.
Now how do you say I want a T-Shirt or I’d like to buy a T-Shirt? Now first we have the word T-Shirt T-恤(T seut1). That sounds very similar to its English word T-Shirt. Now the Cantonese way of saying T-Shirt is T-恤(T seut1), T-恤(T seut1) and the measure word for all clothes is 件(gin6), 件(gin6). It’s a mid flat tone word 件(gin6). Let’s hear it again 件(gin6). So one T-Shirt is 一件T-恤(jat1 gin6 T seut1), 一件T-恤(jat1 gin6 T seut1). Two T-Shirts is 兩件T-恤(loeng5 gin6 T seut1), 兩件T-恤(loeng5 gin6 T seut1). Now three T-Shirts is 三件T-恤(saam1 gin6 T seut1), 三件T-恤(saam1 gin6 T seut1) and let’s use it with the structure we’ve learned before. I would like 我要(ngo5 jiu3) and the sentence would sound like 我要一件T-恤(ngo5 jiu3 jat1 gin6 T seut1). I’d like a T-Shirt 我要一件T-恤(ngo5 jiu3 jat1 gin6 T seut1). I’d like a T-Shirt. Okay to close our today’s lesson, we’d like you to practice what you’ve just learned. I will provide you with the English equivalent of the phrase and you are responsible for shouting it out loud. You have a few seconds before I give you the answers. So 加 油(gaa1 jau2)! One person 一個人(jat1 go3 jan4) five people 五個人(ng51 go3 jan4). I’d like two bottles of beer 我要兩枝啤酒(ngo5 jiu3 loeng5 zi1 be1 zau2). I’d like three shrimp dumplings 我要三個蝦餃(ngo5 jiu3 saam1 go3 haa1 gaau2). I’d like a T-Shirt 我要一件T-恤(ngo5 jiu3 jat1 gin6 T seut1).
Okay that about does it for today. Remember to stop by cantoneseclass101.com and pick up the PDF and if you stop by, be sure to leave us a comment. Bye bye.


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Monday at 6:30 pm
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Did you/Do you know about the hand signals for Cantonese numbers?

Wednesday at 2:46 pm
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Hi Jacqui,

蚊 (man1) by itself means "mosquito"; but in Hong Kong we use it to mean "dollar" as well.

I'm not sure if it was originally created due to the mis-writing as mentioned, but we've been using 蚊 (man1), not 文 (man4), for a long time.


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Wednesday at 2:34 pm
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In the lesson notes there is a sample sentence ...


bei2 ng5 man1 ngo5 zau6 dak1 laa3。

Give me five HKD, that's fine.

When I looked up the stroke order for 蚊, I came across a note that said some Hong Kong people mis-write this to mean dollar when it should be for mosquito, then again I have also seen dollar written as 蚊.

Could you clarify whether the character for dollar is 蚊 or 文.


Monday at 10:01 pm
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Hi theo,

Both of the following phrases are understandable, but the first one is more natural, try to use that one instead of the latter one :wink:

我俾五蚊你 (ngo5 bei2 ng5 man1 nei5) "I give $5 to you"

我俾你五蚊 (ngo5 bei2 nei5 ng5 man1) "I give you $5"


Team CantoneseClass101.com

Monday at 7:46 am
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i always thought it was 'i give you' 5 dollars.

and it was wrong to say 'i give 5 dollars' to you.

is it acceptable now?

Monday at 3:47 pm
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Hi Chris,

That's great!:smile:

Do you know how to ask for a cup of bubble tea?

我要一杯珍珠奶茶 (ngo5 jiu3 jat1 bui1 zan1 zyu1 naai5 caa4)

我 "I"

要 "want"

一杯 "a cup of"

珍珠奶茶 "bubble tea" (literally "pearl milk tea")


Team CantoneseClass101.com

Friday at 12:45 pm
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Thanks, Olivia. Now with the vocabulary I'm learning from WordPower and the vocabulary decks on the site, I can ask for my favorite beverages. I may be in Hong Kong long enough to buy a few jars and cans of things as well.

P.S. I'm looking forward to trying bubble tea.

Wednesday at 4:56 pm
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Hi Chris,

There are more than one measure word for beer (啤酒 be1 zau2), depending on the containers:

一支啤酒 (jat1 zi1 be1 zau2) "a beer"

一樽啤酒 (jat1 zeon1 be1 zau2) "a bottle of beer"

一罐啤酒 (jat1 gun3 be1 zau2) "a can of beer"

In general, 支 (zi1) refers to all kinds of drinks, eg. 一支水 (jat1 zi1 seoi2) "a bottle of water", 一支酒 (jat1 zi1 zau2) "a bottle of wine", 一支可樂 (jat1 zi1 ho2 lok6) "a bottle of coca-cola", etc.

樽 (zeon1) refers to items stored in glass bottles or jars, eg. 一樽酒 (jat1 zeon1 zau2) "a bottle of wine", 一樽橄欖 (jat1 zeon1 gaam3 laam5) "a jar of olives", 一樽鹽 (jat1 zeon1 jim4) "a bottle of salt", etc.

罐 (gun3) refers to items stored in tin cans, eg. 一罐可樂 (jat1 gun3 ho2 lok6) "a can of coca-cola", 一罐沙甸魚 (jat1 gun3 saa1 din1 jyu2) "a can of sardines", 一罐菠蘿 (jat1 gun3 bo1 lo4) "a can of pineapple", etc.

Also here's another common measure word for beer: 一打啤酒 (jat1 daa1 be1 zau2) "a dozen of beer", which can be used for "eggs" as well: 一打雞蛋 (jat1 daa1 gai1 daan2) "a dozen of eggs".


Team CantoneseClass101.com

Tuesday at 10:23 am
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What other kinds of objects use the same measure word as beer?

Tuesday at 11:04 am
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Hi Mabel,

To ask someone to count 1 to 10, you can say: 唔該(你)數一至十 (m4 goi1 nei5 sou2 jat1 zi3 sap6)

唔該 (m4 goi1) = please

你 (nei5) = you (can be omitted when you're talking directly to that person)

數 (sou2) = to count

一至十 (jat1 zi3 sap6) = one to ten

Easy, right? And once you have mastered the Cantonese numbers, you can ask people to count to any numbers you want! :lol:



Team CantoneseClass101.com

Tuesday at 10:59 am
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Hi Julie,

Thanks a lot for the reference! :grin:

Looks like the hand signals on that wikipedia page is for Chinese only.

Cantonese speakers in Hong Kong have another system that includes few different signals than those shown on the page.

For details, please see our video lesson "Learn Cantonese in Three Minutes #6 - Number 1-10" that is coming out on September 14th :wink:

Thanks again for your comment!



Team CantoneseClass101.com