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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 lesson 8. I Don’t Understand. Today, we shall see a very useful phrase meaning, I Don’t Understand. It’s very useful because many times you won’t immediately understand what people are saying. In Cantonese, I don’t understand is 我唔明(ngo5 m4 ming4), 我唔明(ngo5 m4 ming4). Let’s break it down by syllable 我 唔 明(ngo5 m4 ming4). Now let’s hear it one more time 我唔明(ngo5 m4 ming4). The first word 我(ngo5) means I 我(ngo5) I. This word starts with the nasal sound (ng) 我(ngo5), 我(ngo5) and it’s followed by 唔明(m4 ming4) which in Cantonese is don’t know 唔明(m4 ming4). Now this 唔(m4), it’s something we should be familiar with. We’ve learned this 唔(m4) in our first lesson in the word for thank you 唔該(m4 goi1) is the same 唔(m4). So when you say it, just try to use your throat 唔(m4) and the next sound 明(ming4) means to understand 明(ming4). It’s also the lowest tone in Cantonese 明(ming4). So these two sounds are too low tones. 唔明(m4 ming4) And I don’t understand is 我唔明(ngo5 m4 ming4). And you can always leave out a subject I 我(ngo5) so the sentence becomes 唔明(m4 ming4). That will mean I don’t understand or don’t understand. This is called no subject Cantonese grammar which means you are very likely to hear sentences with no subject at all and you have to guess what the subject is.
Cantonese tend to start a sentence with the verb rather than a noun but don’t worry. You get used to it. Now let’s look at another phrase 我唔知(ngo5 m4 zi1), 我唔知(ngo5 m4 zi1) which means I don’t know. Let’s say it slowly 我 唔 知(ngo5 m4 zi1) and 我唔知(ngo5 m4 zi1). This is very simple. Based on the sentence we just learned 我唔明(ngo5 m4 ming4). This one is 我唔知(ngo5 m4 zi1). The first two sounds are the same sounds we just learned 我唔(ngo5 m4), I don’t and the last sound is 知( zi1) which means to know and it’s a short form of 知道(zi1 dou3). 知道(zi1 dou3) means to know but in colloquial Cantonese, you can just say 唔知(m4 zi1). I don’t understand 唔知(m4 zi1). What I just did is I left out the 我(ngo5) the subject I and the sentence becomes 唔知(m4 zi1) don’t know and don’t understand is 唔明(m4 ming4). Let’s hear these two sentences together for comparison. 我唔明(ngo5 m4 ming4) I don’t understand. 我唔知(ngo5 m4 zi1) I don’t know. 唔明(m4 ming4) Don’t understand. 唔知(m4 zi1) Don’t know. Another way to express that you don’t understand is asking someone what does that mean? Now this phrase in Cantonese is 咩意思(me1 ji3 si1). let’s hear it again 咩意思(me1 ji3 si1). let’s break it down by syllable 咩 意 思(me1 ji3 si1), 咩意思(me1 ji3 si1). The first sound 咩(me1) means what thing and the rest of the sentence 意思(ji3 si1) means meaning. 意思(ji3 si1) meaning. So together it’s what meanings, what does it mean? 咩意思(me1 ji3 si1), 咩意思(me1 ji3 si1) Now the tones of these syllables are high flat, midflat and high flat. 咩意思(me1 ji3 si1) So you can hear the flow in here high, mid, high. 咩意思(me1 ji3 si1) means what does it mean.
Now let’s have a quicker view of the sentence we just learned. First one, I don’t understand 我唔明(ngo5 m4 ming4) or 唔明(m4 ming4). The second one, I don’t know 我唔知(ngo5 m4 zi1) or 唔知(m4 zi1). The last one, what does it mean? 咩意思(me1 ji3 si1), 咩意思(me1 ji3 si1) When engaging in a conversation with Cantonese people, you are more than likely not to understand everything they are saying to you. This could be for a number of reasons. The accent, how far the persons are speaking or the vocabulary that the person is using. If this happens, don’t be afraid to say 我唔明(ngo5 m4 ming4). Cantonese people will be more than happy to try to offer an explanation for what they’ve just said or maybe you’ve understood general sense of a phrase but there was a word someone used that you’ve never heard before. To find out the meaning of new word, simply ask the person 咩意思(me1 ji3 si1) which in English means, what does it mean? Now if you’ve managed to understand what a Cantonese speaker has told you, when they asked you 你明唔明(nei5 ming4 m4 ming4) which means did you understand. You can answer this with, yes I understood which is 我明(ngo5 ming4) or 明呀(ming4 aa1). Now 明呀(ming4 aa1) has a ending particle aa. Now this aa is an emphasis of the tone. It’s what it sounds. Don’t be afraid to add this 呀(aa1) to the end of your speech. Cantonese love it. It’s basically a sign saying that I can speak Cantonese. You hear it is aa or la and Cantonese speech a lot.
Okay to close out today’s less on, 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 aloud. You have a few seconds before I give you the answers 加 油(gaa1 jau2)! First sentence, I don’t understand 我唔明(ngo5 m4 ming4) or 唔明(m4 ming4). I don’t know 我唔知(ngo5 m4 zi1) or 唔知(m4 zi1). What does it mean? 咩意思(me1 ji3 si1) All right, that about does it for today. Remember to stop by cantoneseclass101.com and pick up the PDF. If you stop by, be sure to leave us a post. Bye bye.

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CantoneseClass101.com
Monday at 6:30 pm
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Cantoneseclass@101.com
Saturday at 11:22 am
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Hello phillip,


Thank you for sharing your comment and sorry for the inconvenience caused. We just want to keep you updated the latest offer and news of the site. Thank you for using Cantoneseclass101.com again.


Siuling

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phillip
Sunday at 5:27 pm
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stop putting up the adverts. if I want to upgrade I will. but it interrupts my study.

Christiaan
Sunday at 8:21 pm
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Siuling, ni hao,


I have been looking in my map of saved mails of word of the day, I can't find it back,

maybe lost it. I only remember it was an e-mail of word of the day and the word in Cantonese is

'hung1'.

多謝,

Christiaan.

Cantoneseclass101.comVerified
Sunday at 3:50 pm
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Hello Christiaan,


Would you tell me the English translation of your sentence or more specifically where do you find this sentence?


Thank you so much.


Siuling

Team CantoneseClass101.com

Christiaan
Thursday at 8:06 pm
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Hello, ni hao,


In latest word of the day "hung1", there's this sentence:


hung1 bou6 ik1 si4 gwong1 pin2. On: si4 gwong1. I can't figure out

the pronunciation. I don't hear si4.


I tried several times listening but...

What about it?


Thank you,

柯立思蒂安 。

Cantoneseclass101.comVerified
Friday at 7:47 am
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Hi Steven,


Why don’t I understand? 為什麼我不明白 in Cantonese~ 點解我唔明白?


Siuling

Team CantoneseClass101.com

Cantoneseclass101.comVerified
Sunday at 2:25 pm
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Hi Jamie Glover,


Thank you for your question.


知道(zi1 dou3) most of the time simply means "to know that something exists".

識(sik1) usually means "to know something such as the knowledge, skill or a person".


For example, when you see the questions:

"Do you know what is chopstick? Your answer should be (ngo5 zi1 dou3) ~ I know the thing or the fact.

"Do you know how to use chopstick?" Your answer is (ngo5 m4 sik1) ~ I don`t know the skill or the ability.

Some people know what is chopstick but it does not mean they know how to use it.


Feel free to send us any other questions.


Siuling

Team CantoneseClass101.com

Jamie Glover
Monday at 4:18 am
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Hi there,

In the previous lesson, sik1 was used as the word 'to know', but in this lesson 'zi1 dou3' or 'zi1' is used instead.

What's the difference between them? Is it possible to substitute them (ngo5 m4 sik1 instead of ngo5 m4 zi1) or would that be wrong or sound really strange to a Cantonese speaker?


Thanks!

CantoneseClass101
Thursday at 6:25 am
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Hi Vince Poulin,


Thanks for your comment! The numbers are indications for the tones.

Cantonese is a tone language, which means the same pronunciation has different meanings when it’s said in different tones.

For more details please check out our Pronunciation series (link: https://www.cantoneseclass101.com/index.php?cat=24) :wink:

Feel free to ask if you have any other questions!


Olivia

Team CantoneseClass101.com

Vince Poulin
Wednesday at 4:58 am
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Olivia - I asked this question before but no answer yet. What do the numbers imply behind the chinese words - ngo5 - what does the 5 do?


Is there an explaination on the website?



Vince