Cantonese (广东话/廣東話 Gwóngdūng wáh, 广府话/廣府話 Gwóngfù wá or 粤语/粤語 Yuht yúh) is a widely spoken Chinese language. It is the local language in current use within the province of Guangdong in China, official language in the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, and used in many overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia and elsewhere, with Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) being two places where Cantonese is the dominant language in a Chinese community that is in turn huge and influential. Cantonese is also the main language spoken by overseas Chinese in most English-speaking Western countries. The form of Chinese spoken by many inhabitants of eastern and southern Guangxi province is often referred to as a form of Cantonese as well.
Chinese languages are often mutually unintelligible, with difference ranging from that between Italian and Spanish to that between German and Swedish, which most English speakers would call "related languages" rather than "dialects".
All Chinese languages, in general, use the same set of characters in reading and writing in formal settings, based on standard Mandarin. A Cantonese speaker and a Mandarin speaker cannot talk to each other, but either can generally read what the other writes. However, there can be significant differences when the "dialects" are written in colloquial form. For example in Cantonese as used in Hong Kong, more informal phrasings are used in everyday speech than what would be written. Thus, some extra characters are sometimes used in addition to the common characters to represent the spoken language and other colloquial words. For reading most writing in Cantonese-speaking areas, use the Chinese phrasebook.
There are different local languages in Guangdong that are sometimes considered Cantonese dialects, but in fact are separate languages, such as Taishanese, spoken in Taishan, Kaiping, Jiangmen and the surrounding areas. However, most people throughout Guangdong know how to speak standard Cantonese (Guangzhou dialect) and Hongkongers and Macanese speak standard Cantonese with slight influences from Western languages, especially from English in Hong Kong. The Cantonese spoken in Singapore and Malaysia also differs slightly due to Malay influences.
Virtually all younger Cantonese speakers in mainland China are able to speak Mandarin, so learning Cantonese is not necessary to communicate. Moreover, some of the Cantonese-speaking cities in mainland China are prosperous cities that are full of migrants from other parts of China who speak Mandarin but not Cantonese. However, Cantonese speakers in Hong Kong, Macau and overseas Chinese communities often do not speak Mandarin, and in the former, the use of Mandarin is a touchy political issue. Foreigners living in the Cantonese-speaking parts of mainland China usually choose to learn Mandarin instead as it is much more widely spoken, while those living in Hong Kong often choose to just speak English.
Cantonese is written with simplified Chinese characters in mainland China, and with traditional Chinese characters in Hong Kong and Macau. In this phrasebook, where differences exist, the simplified characters are written before the slash (/), and traditional characters after it.
Like other Chinese languages, Cantonese is written using Chinese characters but employs its own "unique" pronunciation for those characters.
The pronunciations given in this guidebook use the Yale Romanization system. Sounds can only be approximated at best. This guide gives a general indication of the correct sound to make, but the best way to be completely accurate is to listen closely to native speakers and mimic the sounds they make. Unlike in Mandarin, there is no widely-used Romanization system for Cantonese, and native speakers almost never learn those that do exist. Since most locals will have no idea how to read Romanized Cantonese, stick to Chinese characters for written communication.
Unless otherwise indicated, pronunciation between the Cantonese of Hong Kong and Macau is identical to that of Guangzhou.
Like Mandarin, Cantonese distinguish between aspirated and unaspirated consonants, not unvoiced and voiced as in English, and lacks voiced consonants. Aspirated sounds are pronounced with a distinctive puff of air as they are pronounced in English when at the beginning of a word, while unaspirated sounds are pronounced without the puff, as in English when found in clusters. However, Cantonese lacks the "tongue rolling" (pinyin zh, ch, sh, r) initial consonants that are found in Mandarin.
|b||p in "sport"|
|p||p as in "pat"|
|m||m as in "mom"|
|f||f as in "foot"|
|d||t in "stop"|
|t||t as in "top"|
|n||n as in "not"; in many areas including Hong Kong and Macau, initial n is often substituted with l as in "lap"|
|l||l as in "lap"|
|g||k in "sky"|
|k||k as in "kite"|
|ng||ng as in "singer"; in Hong Kong and Macau, ng by itself without a vowel is often substituted with m as in "mom" , while it is often omitted as the initial consonant of a syllable|
|h||h as in "hot"|
|j||blend of the z in "Mozart" and the j in "judge"|
|ch||blend of the ts in "cats" and the ch in "church"|
|s||s as in "sleep"|
|gw||qu as in "square"|
|kw||qu as in "quark"|
|y||y as in "yard"|
|w||w as in "want"; otherwise, like English "v" in "victory"|
Unlike Mandarin, Cantonese retains all the final consonants (m, n, ŋ, p, t, and k) of Middle Chinese. The final consonants p, t, and k are unreleased. This means that they are virtually silent and you hear no "puff of air" at the end of the syllable.
|aa||a as in "spa"|
|aai||igh as in "sigh"|
|aau||ow as in "how"|
|aam||am as in "Vietnam"|
|aan||an as in "Taiwan"|
|aang||combination of aa and ng|
|aap||op as in "top" in General American, arp as in "tarp" in Received Pronunciation|
|aat||ot as in "hot"in General American, art as in "tart" in Received Pronunciation|
|aak||ock as in "rock"in General American, ark as in "bark" in Received Pronunciation|
|ai||i as in "kite"|
|au||ou as in "scout"|
|am||ome as in "some"; otherwise, like "am" in "ham".|
|an||un as in "sun". This can be pronounced like "an" in "man"|
|ang||ung as in "lung". This may sound like "ang" in "rang".|
|ap||up as in "cup". This can be pronounced like "ap" in "map".|
|at||ut as in "cut"; otherwise, like "at" in "cat".|
|ak||uc as in "suck"; otherwise, like "ack" in "back".|
|e||e as in "bet"|
|ei||ay as in "say"|
|em||em as in "temple"|
|eng||eng as in "penguin"|
|ek||eck as in "peck"|
|i||ee as in "tee"|
|iu||ew as in "few"|
|im||eem as in "seem"|
|in||een as in "seen"|
|ing||ing as in "sing"|
|ip||eep as in "sleep"|
|it||eet as in "meet"|
|ik||ick as in "sick"|
|o||aw as in "paw" (Received Pronunciation)|
|oi||oy as in "boy"|
|ou||oe as in "toe"|
|on||orn as in "scorn" (Received Pronunciation)|
|ong||ong as in "song" (Received Pronunciation)|
|ot||ot as in "hot" (Received Pronunciation)|
|ok||ock as in "stock" (Received Pronunciation)|
|u||oo as in "coo"|
|ui||ooey as in "gooey"|
|un||oon as in "soon"|
|ung||combination of ou and ng|
|ut||oot as in "boot"|
|uk||ook as in "book"|
|eu||er as in "her" (Received Pronunciation, with rounded lips)|
|eung||combination of eu and ng|
|euk||ork as in "work" (Received Pronunciation)|
|eui||o as in "no" (Received Pronunciation)|
|eun||on as in "person"|
|eut||ot as in "carrot"|
|yu||u as in "tu" (French)|
|yun||un as in "une" (French)|
|yut||No equivalent in English. Similar to a German ü followed by a t.|
|m||mm as in "hmm"|
|ng||ng as in "sing"|
Cantonese is a tonal language. This means that the same syllable, pronounced in a different tone, has a different meaning. To complicate this, there may be more than one character pronounced as the same syllable with the same tone. In this case, context usually helps resolve the ambiguity. This may sound daunting, but is in fact is better than say, English, where there are a great deal of words that are spoken identically (eg. their, there, they're) and have nothing but context to help determine which one it is. Cantonese has context and tone to help distinguish words.
Different variations of the Cantonese language have a different number of tones, from as few as six to as many as ten or more. The larger numbers involve distinctions that modern linguists don't consider tonal, so to get by, you only need to distinguish between the following six tones:
|Yale||Description||Start-to-end pitch||Yale||Description||Start-to-end pitch|
|1||ā||High Level||4||àh||Low Falling|
|2||á||Mid Rising||5||áh||Low Rising|
|3||a||Mid Level||6||ah||Low Level|
The tonal pronunciation of Cantonese is by far the most difficult aspect of the often daunting language. The very minor initial difficulty in learning the tones is sometimes more than made up for by simple grammar, and absence of almost all plurals, genders, tenses and other conjugations that make many other world languages seem difficult by comparison.
Cantonese pronouns are relatively straightforward. 我 ngóh is the standard first person pronoun, 你 néih is the standard second person pronoun, and 佢 kéuih is the standard third person pronoun. Unlike English, Cantonese has only one third person pronoun, and does not distinguish between "he", "she" and "it". Plurals are relatively straightforward, and are formed by adding a 哋 deih behind the singular pronoun, so 我哋 ngóh deih means "we", 你哋 néih deih is the equivalent of the plural "you" and 佢哋 kéuih deih means "they".
To be or not to be?
Cantonese, as in Mandarin, does not have words for "yes" and "no" as such; instead, questions are typically answered by repeating the verb. Common ones include:
- 你好. Néih hóu.
- Hello. (only on the telephone)
- 喂。 Wái.
- How are you?
- 你好吗？/你好嗎？ Néih hóu ma? (formal) / 食饱未？/食飽未？ Sihk báau meih? (colloquial, lit. "Have you eaten?")
- How are you recently? (more popular in daily usage)
- 你最近点呀？/你最近點呀？ Néih jeui gáhn dím a?
- Not bad.
- 几好。/幾好。 Géi hóu. (No need to say "thank you" after answering "fine" in Cantonese)
- What is your name?
- 你叫咩名呀？ Léih giu mē mèhng a?
- What is your name (formal, literally means "How do I address you")?
- 请问点称呼？/請問點稱呼？ Chíngmahn dím chīngfū?
- My name is ______ .
- 我叫______。 Ngóh giu ______.
- Nice to meet you.
- 幸会。/幸會。 Hahng'wúih.
- 请。/請。 Chéng.
- Thank you. (when someone helps you)
- 唔该。/唔該。 M̀h'gōi.
- Thank you. (when someone gives you a gift)
- 多谢。/多謝。 Dōjeh.
- You're welcome.
- 唔使客气。/唔使客氣。 M̀h'sái haak-hei.
- Excuse me. (getting attention)
- 唔好意思. M̀h'hóu yisi
- Excuse me. (to get past)
- 唔該 or 唔該借借. M̀h'gōi * or * M̀h'gōi jeje.
- 对唔住。/對唔住。 Deui-m̀h-jyuh. (In Hong Kong, it's more common to use the English word "sorry" instead)
- 再见。/再見。 Joigin. (In Hong Kong, "bye bye" is more commonly used instead)
- I can't speak Cantonese.
- 我唔识讲广东话。/我唔識講廣東話。 Ngóh m̀h'sīk góng Gwóngdōngwá.
- Excuse me, do you speak English?
- 请问你识唔识讲英文呀？/請問你識唔識講英文呀？ Chíngmahn léih sīk-m̀h-sīk góng Yīngmán a?
- Is there someone here who speaks English?
- 请问有冇人识讲英文呀？/請問有冇人識講英文呀？ Chíngmahn yáuhmóh yàhn sīk góng Yīngmán a?
- 救命呀！ Gau mehng ā!
- Look out!
- 小心！ Síusām!
- Good morning.
- 早晨。 Jóusàhn.
- Good night.
- 晚安 Mán ngōn (formal) / 早抖 Jóu táu (colloquial)
- I don't understand.
- 我听唔明。/我聽唔明。 Ngóh tēng m̀h'mìhng. (when listening) / 我睇唔明。/我睇唔明。 Ngóh tái m̀h'mìhng. (when reading)
- Where is the toilet?
- 厕所喺边度？/廁所喺邊度？ Chi só hái bīndouh? （note: You may here the word 屎坑 sí hāang being used instead of 廁所 chi só in Southeast Asian Cantonese communities, but this is considered crude in Hong Kong).
- Leave me alone.
- 唔好搞我。 M̀h'hóu gáau ngóh.
- Don't touch me!
- 唔好掂我! M̀h'hóu dihm ngóh!
- I'll call the police.
- 我会叫警察。/我會叫警察。 Ngóh wúih giu gíngchaat.
- 警察! Gíngchaat! (In Malaysia, the word "mata", which means "eyes" in Malay, is often used instead.)
- Stop! Thief!
- 咪走！贼仔！/咪走！賊仔！ ...Máih jáu! Chaahkjái!
- Please help me.
- 唔该帮我。/唔該幫我. 。M̀h'gōi bōng ngóh.
- It's an emergency.
- 好紧急。/好緊急。 Hóu gán'gāp.
- I'm lost.
- 我荡失路。/我蕩失路。 Ngóh dohngsāt louh.
- I lost my bag.
- 我唔见咗个袋。/我唔見咗個袋。 Ngóh m̀h'gin jó go doih.
- I dropped my wallet.
- 我跌咗个银包。/我跌咗個銀包。Ngóh dit jó go ngàhn bāau.
- I don't feel well.
- 我唔舒服。 Ngóh m̀h syūfuhk.
- I'm sick.
- 我病咗。 Ngóh behng jó.
- I've been injured.
- 我受咗伤。/我受咗傷。 Ngóh sauh jó sēung.
- Please call a doctor.
- 唔该帮我叫医生。/唔該幫我叫醫生。 M̀h'gōi bōng ngóh giu yīsāng.
- Can I use your phone?
- 可唔可以借个电话用呀？/可唔可以借個電話用呀？ Hó-m̀h-hó'yi je go dihnwáh yuhng a？
- 零 ling
- 一 yāt
- 二 yih (两/兩 loeng is used before counter words)
- 三 sāam
- 四 sei
- 五 ńgh
- 六 luhk
- 七 chāt
- 八 baat
- 九 gáu
- 十 sahp
- 十一 sahpyāt
- 十二 sahpyih
- 十三 sahpsāam
- 十四 sahpsei
- 十五 sahpńgh
- 十六 sahpluhk
- 十七 sahpchāt
- 十八 sahpbaat
- 十九 sahpgáu
- 二十 yihsahp
- 二十一 yihsahpyāt
- 二十二 yihsahpyih
- 二十三 yihsahpsāam
For the numbers 21-29, 二十 is often replaced by 廿 (yah) colloquially. For instance, 二十一 (yihsahpyāt) will often be said as 廿一 (yahyāt).
- 三十 sāamsahp
- 四十 seisahp
- 五十 ńghsahp
- 六十 luhksahp
- 七十 chātsahp
- 八十 baatsahp
- 九十 gáusahp
- 一百 yātbaak
- 二百 yihbaak
- 三百 sāambaak
- 一千 yātchīn
- 二千 yihchīn
Just as in Mandarin, Cantonese numbers starting from 10,000 are also grouped in units of 4 digits starting with 萬 maahn. Therefore, "one million" would be "one hundred ten-thousands" (一百萬), and "one billion" would be "ten hundred-millions" (十億).
- 一万/一萬 yātmaahn
- 十万/十萬 sahpmaahn
- 一百万/一百萬 yātbaakmaahn
- 一千万/一千萬 yātchīnmaahn
- 一亿/一億 yātyīk
- 十亿/十億 sahpyīk
- 一百亿/一百億 yātbaakyīk
- 一千亿/一千億 yātchīnyīk
- 一兆 yātsiuh
- number _____ (train, bus, etc.)
- _____号/_____號 houh
- 半 bun
- 少 síu
- 多 dō
- 而家 yīgā (colloquial) / 现在/現在 yihnjoih (formal)
- 迟/遲 chìh
- 早 jóu
- 朝早 jīujóu
- 晏昼/晏晝 ngaanjau
- 下昼/下晝 hahjau / 晏昼/晏晝 ngaanjau
- 夜晚 yeh máahn
- 半夜 bun yeh
- 一点/一點 yāt dím
- 两点/兩點 léuhng dím (not 二點)
- 两点一/兩點一 léuhng dím yāt / 两点踏一/兩點踏一 léuhng dím daahp yāt / 两点五分/兩點五分 léuhng dím ńgh fān
- 两点二/兩點二 léuhng dím yih / 两点踏二/兩點踏二 léuhng dím daahp yih / 两点十分/兩點十分 léuhng dím sahp fān
- 两点三/兩點三 léuhng dím sāam / 两点踏三/兩點踏三 léuhng dím daahp sāam / 两点五十五/分兩點十五分 léuhng dím sahp ńgh fān
- 两点半/兩點半 léuhng dím bun / 两点三十分/兩點三十分 léuhng dím sāam sahp fān (not 两点六/兩點六 / 两点踏六/兩點踏六)
- 两点九/兩點九 léuhng dím gáu / 两点踏九/兩點踏九 léuhng dím daahp gáu / 两点四十五分/兩點四十五分 léuhng dím sei sahp ńgh fān
- 两点十/兩點十 léuhng dím sahp / 两点踏十/兩點踏十 léuhng dím daahp sahp / 两点五十分/兩點五十分 léuhng dím ńgh sahp fān
- 两点踏十一/兩點踏十一 léuhng dím daahp sahpyāt / 兩點五十五分 léuhng dím ńgh sahp ńgh fān (not 两点十一/兩點十一)
- 两点五十七分/兩點五十七分 léuhng dím ńgh sahp chāt fān
- 三点/三點 sāam dím
- _____ minute(s)
- _____ 分钟/_____ 分鐘 _____ fānjūng
- _____ hour(s)
- _____ 个钟/_____ 個鐘 _____ gor jūng
- _____ day(s)
- _____ 日 yaht
- _____ week(s)
- _____ 个礼拜/_____ 個禮拜 _____ gor láihbaai (colloquial) / _____ 个星期/_____ 個星期 _____ gor sēngkèi (formal)
- _____ month(s)
- _____ 个月/_____ 個月 _____ gor yuht
- _____ year(s)
- _____ 年_____ nìhn
- 今日 gām yaht
- 寻日/尋日 chàhm yaht / 琴日 kàhm yaht
- 听日/聽日 tēngyaht
- the day before last
- 前日 chìhn yaht
- the day after tomorrow
- 後日 hauh yaht
- this week
- 今個禮拜 gām go láihbaai
- last week
- 上個禮拜 seuhng go láihbaai
- next week
- 下個禮拜 hah go láihbaai
For days of the week, the form before the slash is more colloquial, while the form after the slash is more formal, and used in writing and news broadcasts.
- 禮拜日 láihbaai yaht / 星期日 sīngkèi yaht
- 禮拜一 láihbaai yāt / 星期一 sīngkèi yāt
- 禮拜二 láihbaai yih / 星期二 sīngkèi yih
- 禮拜三 láihbaai sāam / 星期三 sīngkèi sāam
- 禮拜四 láihbaai sei / 星期四 sīngkèi sei
- 禮拜五 láihbaai ńgh / 星期五 sīngkèi ńgh
- 禮拜六 láihbaai luhk / 星期六 singkèi luhk
- 一月 yāt'yuht
- 二月 yih'yuht
- 三月 sāam'yuht
- 四月 seiyuht
- 五月 ńgh'yuht
- 六月 luhk'yuht
- 七月 chāt'yuht
- 八月 baat'yuht
- 九月 gáuyuht
- 十月 sahpyuht
- 十一月 sahpyāt'yuht
- 十二月 sahpyih'yuht
- 黑色 hāk sīk
- 白色 baahk sīk
- 灰色 fūi sīk
- 红色/紅色 hùhng sīk
- 蓝色/藍色 làahm̀ sīk
- 黄色/黃色 wòhng sīk
- 绿色/綠色 luhk sīk
- 橙色 chàahng sīk
- 紫色 jí sīk
- 啡色 fē sīk
Bus, train and metro
- 巴士 bā sí
- 火車 fó chē
- metro / subway
- 地鐵 dei tit
- tram / streetcar
- 電車 dihn chē
- light rail
- 輕鐵 hīng tit
- high-speed train
- 高鐵 gōu tit
The language uses measure words or numeral classifiers before the actual nouns. In context of the aforementioned examples, the respective Cantonese measure words for 火車 and 地鐵 are 班 (bāan), and 巴士 is 架 (ga).
- How much is a ticket to _____?
- 去_____張飛要幾多錢嘎? Heui _____ jēung fēi yiu géidō chín gah?
- One ticket to _____, please.
- 一張飛去_____, 唔該. Yāt jēung fēi heui _____, m̀h'gōi.
- Where does this train/metro/bus go?
- 呢 [班火車/班地鐵/架巴士] 去邊度嘎? Nī [bāan fóchē]/[bāan deitit]/[ga bāsí] heui bīndouh gah?
- Where is the train/metro/bus to _____?
- 去_____ [班火車/班地鐵/架巴士] 喺邊度搭嘎? Heui _____ [bāan fóchē]/[bāan deitit]/[ga bāsí] hái bīndouh daap gah?
- Does this train/metro/bus stop in _____?
- 呢[班火車/班地鐵/架巴士]停唔停_____嘎? Nī [bāan fóchē]/[bāan deitit]/[ga bāsí] tìhng-m̀h- tìhng _____ gah?
- When does the train/metro/bus for _____ leave?
- 去_____[班火車/班地鐵/架巴士]幾點走嘎? Heui _____ [bāan fóchē]/[bāan deitit]/[ga bāsí] géidím jáu gah?
- When will this train/metro/bus arrive in _____?
- [班火車/班地鐵/架巴士]會幾點去到_____嘎? [Bāan fóchē]/[bāan deitit]/[Ga bāsí] wúih géidím heuidou _____ gah?
走 or 行
While the character 走 (jáu) means "to walk" in modern Standard Mandarin, Cantonese retains the Classical Chinese meaning of the character, in which it means "to run" (a meaning that is also retained in other southern dialects and Japanese). Instead, the character 行 (hàhng) is used to mean "to walk" in Cantonese.
- How do I get to _____ ?
- 请问你点去_____呀？/請問你點去_____呀？ chéng mahn néih dím heui _____ a?
- the train station
- 火车站/火車站 fóchē jaahm
- the metro/subway station
- 地铁站/地鐵站 deitit jaahm
- the bus station?
- 巴士站 bāsí jaahm
- the airport?
- 机场/機場 gēi chèuhng / 飞机场/飛機場 fēi gēi chèuhng
- 市区/市區 síh'kēui
- the youth hostel?
- 青年旅舍 chīngnìhn léuihséh
- the _____ hotel?
- _____ 酒店 _____ jáudim
- the American/Canadian/Australian/British consulate
- 美国/加拿大/澳州/英国 领事馆？ / 美國/加拿大/澳州/英國 領事館？ Méihgwok/Gānàhdaaih/Oujāu/Yīng'gwok líhngsihgún
- Where are there a lot of_____ ?
- 边度有好多_____呀？ / 邊度有好多_____呀？ Bīndouh yáuh hóudō _____ a?
- 餐厅/餐廳 chāantēng
- 酒吧 jáubā
- sites to see
- 景点/景點 gíngdím
- Can you show me on the map?
- 可唔可以喺张地图度指俾我睇呀？ / 可唔可以喺張地圖度指俾我睇呀？ Hó-m̀h-hó'yi hái jēung deihtòuh douh jí béi ngóh tái a?
- 街 gāai
- Turn left.
- 转左/轉左 Jyun jó.
- Turn right.
- 转右/轉右 Jyun yauh.
- 左 jó
- 右 yauh
- straight ahead
- 直行 jihk'hàahng
- towards the _____
- 去_____ heui _____
- past the _____
- 过咗_____/過咗_____ gwojó _____
- before the _____
- _____之前 jīchìhn
- in front of the _____
- _____前便 _____ chìhn bihn
- behind the _____
- _____後便 _____ hauh bihn
- Watch for the _____.
- 睇住_____. Táijyuh _____.
- 十字路口 sahpjihlouh'háu
- 入便 yahp bihn / 入面 yahp mihn / 里便/裡便 léuih bihn
- 出便 chēut bihn
- 北面 bākmihn
- 南面 nàahm'mihn
- 东面/東面 dūngmihn
- 西面 sāimihn
- 上山 séuhngsāan
- 落山 lohksāan
- 的士! Dīksíh!
- Take me to _____, please.
- 載我去_____, 唔該. Joi ngóh heui _____, m̀h'gōi.
- How much does it cost to get to _____?
- 去_____要幾多錢嘎? Heui _____ yiu géidō chín gah?
- Take me there, please.
- 載我去嗰度, 唔該. Joi ngóh heui gódouh, m̀h'gōi
- Do you have any rooms available?
- 你哋有無空房呀? Néihdeih yáuh-móuh hūngfóng a?
- How much is a room for one person/two people?
- 單人房/雙人房 要幾多錢呀? Dāanyàhnfóng/Sēungyàhnfóng yiu géidō chín a?
- Does the room come with _____?
- 間房有無_____嘎? Gāan fóng yáuh-móuh _____ gah?
- 床襟 chòhngkám
- a bathroom
- 浴室 yuhksāt
- a telephone
- 電話 dihnwah
- a TV
- 電視 dihnsih
- May I see the room first?
- 可唔可以睇下間房先呀? Hó-m̀h-hó'yi tái-háh gāan fóng sīn a?
- Do you have anything _____?
- 有無間房會_____嘎? Yáuh-móuh gāan fóng húi _____ gah?
- 靜啲 jihngdī
- 大啲 daaihdī
- 乾淨啲 gōnjehngdī
- 平啲 pèhngdī
- OK, I'll take it.
- 好, 我要呢間. Hóu, ngóh yiu nī gāan.
- I will stay for _____ night(s).
- 我會喺度住_____晚. Ngóh húi háidouh jyuh _____ máahn.
- Can you suggest another hotel?
- 你可唔可以介紹第二間酒店俾我呀? Néih hó-m̀h-hó'yi gaaisiuh daihyih gāan jáudim béi ngóh a?
- Do you have a _____?
- 你哋有無_____嘎? Néihdeih yáuh-móuh _____ gah?
- 夾萬 gaapmaahn
- 儲物櫃 chyúhmahtgwaih
- Is breakfast/supper included?
- 包唔包 早餐/晚餐 嘎? Bāau-m̀h-bāau jóuchāan/máahnchāan gah?
- What time is breakfast/supper?
- 幾點有 早餐/晚餐 嘎? Géidím yáuh jóuchāan/máahnchāan gah?
- Please clean my room.
- 唔該幫我執下間房. M̀h'gōi bōng ngóh jāp-háh gāan fóng.
- Can you wake me at _____?
- 可唔可以_____叫醒我呀? Hó-m̀h-hó'yi _____ giuséng ngóh a?
- I want to check out.
- 我想退房. Ngóh séung teuifóng.
- Do you accept American/Australian/Canadian dollars?
- 你哋收唔收 美/澳/加 元嘎? Néihdeih sāu-m̀h-sāu Méih/Ou/Gā yùhn gah?
- Do you accept British pounds?
- 你哋收唔收英鎊嘎? Néihdeih sāu-m̀h-sāu Yīngbohng gah?
- Do you accept credit cards?
- 你哋收唔收信用卡嘎? Néihdeih sāu-m̀h-sāu sun-yoong-caht gah?
- Can you change money for me?
- 可唔可以幫我唱錢呀? Hó-m̀h-hó'yi bōng ngóh cheung chín a?
- Where can I get money changed?
- 我可以去邊度唱錢呀? Ngóh hó'yi heui bīndouh cheung chín a?
- Can you change a traveler's check for me?
- 可唔可以幫我唱張旅行支票呀? Hó-m̀h-hó'yi bōng ngóh cheung jēung léuih'hàhng jīpiu a?
- Where can I get a traveler's check changed?
- 我可以去邊度唱張旅行支票呀? Ngóh hó'yi heui bīndouh cheung jēung léuih'hàhng jīpiu a?
- What is the exchange rate?
- 匯率係幾多呀? Wuihléut haih géidō a?
- Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM)?
- 邊度有櫃員機呀? Bīndouh yáuh gwai'hyùhn'gēi a?
- Where is the bank?
- 邊度有銀行? Bīndouh yáuh nganhong?
Reading a Chinese menu
Look for these characters to get an idea of how your food's cooked. With help from The Eater's Guide to Chinese Characters (J. McCawley).
- A table for one person/two people, please.
- 一張 一人枱/二人枱, 唔該。 Yāt jēung yātyàhntói/yihyàhntói, m̀h'gōi.
- Can I look at the menu, please?
- 俾張餐牌我睇, 唔該。 Béi jēung chāanpáai ngóh tái, m̀h'gōi.
- Can I look in the kitchen?
- 可唔可以睇吓廚房呀？ Hó-m̀h-hó'yi tái-háh chyùhfóng a?
- Is there a house specialty?
- 有乜嘢嘢食出名嘎？ Yáuh mātyéh yéhsihk chēutméng gah?
- Is there a local specialty?
- 有無本地嘢食嘎？ Yáuh-móuh búndeih yéhsihk gah?
- I'm a vegetarian.
- 我食素。 Ngóh sihk sou.
- I don't eat pork.
- 我唔食豬肉。 Ngóh m̀h'sihk jyū yuhk.
- I don't eat beef.
- 我唔食牛肉。 Ngóh m̀h'sihk ngàuh yuhk.
- I only eat halal food.
- 我淨係食清真嘢。 Ngóh jihnghaih sihk chīngjān yéh.
- Can you make it "lite", please?
- 嘢食清啲, 唔該。 yéhsihk chīngdī, m̀h'gōi.
- fixed-price meal
- 套餐 touchāan
- a la carte
- 跟餐牌 gān chāanpáai (means "as on the menu")
- 早餐 jóuchāan
- 晏 aan / 午餐 ńghchāan
- tea (meal)
- 下午茶 hah-ńgh-chàh
- 晚餐 máahnchāan
- I want _____.
- 我想要_____. Ngóh séung yiu _____.
- I want a dish containing _____.
- 我想要樣有_____. Ngóh séung yiu yeuhng yáuh _____.
- 雞/鸡 gāi
- 鴨/鸭 ngaap
- 鵝/鹅 ngó
- 牛肉 ngàuh yuhk
- 豬肉/猪肉 jyū yuhk
- 羊肉 yèuhng yuhk
- 魚/鱼 yùh
- 火腿 fótéui
- 香腸 hēungchéuhng
- Chinese sausage
- 臘腸/腊肠 laahp chéung
- 芝士 jīsí
- 蛋 dáan
- 沙律 sāléut
- (fresh) vegetables
- (新鮮) 菜 (sānsīn) choi
- (fresh) fruit
- (新鮮)生果 (sānsīn) sāang'gwó
- 麵包/面包 mihnbāau (In Malaysia, the Malay word "roti" is often used instead)
- 多士 dōsí (Hong Kong) / 方包 fōng bāau (Guangzhou)
- 麵/面 mihn
- cooked rice
- 飯/饭 faahn
- raw rice
- 米 máih
- congee/rice porridge
- 粥 jūk
- 豆 dauh
- May I have a glass/cup of _____?
- 可唔可以俾杯_____我呀? Hó-m̀h-hó'yi béi būi _____ ngóh a?
- May I have a bottle of _____?
- 可唔可以俾樽_____我呀? Hó-m̀h-hó'yi béi jēun _____ ngóh a?
- 咖啡 gafē
- tea (drink)
- 茶 chàh
- 果汁 gwójāp
- bubbly water
- 有氣水/有气水 yáuh'hei séui
- 水 séui
- 奶 náaih
- 啤酒 bējáu
- red/white wine
- 紅/红 / 白 酒 hùhng/baahk jáu
- May I have some _____?
- 可唔可以俾啲_____我呀? Hó-m̀h-hó'yi béi dī _____ ngóh a?
- 鹽/盐 yìhm
- 胡椒粉 wùhjīufán
- 糖 tòhng
- soy sauce
- 豉油 sihyàuh
- 牛油 ngàuhyàuh
- Excuse me, waiter? (getting attention of server)
- 侍應唔該. Sihying m̀h'gōi.
- I'm finished.
- 食完嘅喇. Sihkyùhn gela.
- delicious (eating)
- 好食 hóusihk
- delicious (drinking)
- 好飲/好饮 hóuyám
- Please clear the plates.
- 唔該幫我清下張枱. M̀h' gōi bōng ngóh chīng-háh jēung tói.
- The check, please.
- 唔該, 埋單。/唔该, 埋单。 M̀h'gōi, màaihdāan.
- Do you serve alcohol?
- 你哋有無酒飲嘎? Néihdeih yáuh-móuh jáu yám gah?
- Is there table service?
- 有無侍應埋枱嘎? Yáuh-móuh sihying màai tói gah?
- A beer/two beers, please.
- 一/兩杯 啤酒, 唔該. Yāt/léuhng būi bējáu, m̀h'gōi.
- A glass of red/white wine, please.
- 一杯 紅/白 酒, 唔該. Yāt būi hùhng/baahk jáu, m̀h'gōi.
- A pint, please.
- 一 pint, 唔該. Yāt pint, m̀h'gōi. ("品脫 bán'tyut" is the corresponding word for "pint", but no one will use it in bars.)
- A bottle, please.
- 一樽, 唔該. Yāt jēun, m̀h'gōi.
- _____ (hard liquor) and _____ (mixer), please.
- _____同_____, 唔該. _____ tùhng _____, m̀h'gōi.
- 威士忌 wāisigéi
- 伏特加 fuhkdahkgā
- 冧酒 lāmjáu
- 水 séui
- club soda
- 梳打水 sōdá séui
- tonic water
- 湯力水 tōnglihk séui
- orange juice
- 橙汁 cháangjāp
- Coke (soda)
- 可樂 hólohk
- Do you have any bar snacks?
- 你哋有無小食嘎? Néihdeih yáuh-móuh síusihk gah?
- One more (cup/bottle), please.
- 要多一 杯/樽, 唔該. Yiu dō yāt būi/jēun, m̀h'gōi.
- When is closing time?
- 幾點柵門嘎? Géidím sāanmùhn gaa?
- 飲杯! Yámbūi! (Hong Kong & Guangzhou) / 飲勝! yám sing (Malaysia & Singapore)
- Do you have this in my size?
- 呢件有無我個碼呀? Nī gihn yáuh-móuh ngóh go má a?
- How much?
- 幾多錢呀? Géidō chín a? / 幾錢呀 Géi chín a?
- That's too expensive.
- 太貴啦. Taai gwai la.
- Would you take _____?
- 收唔收_____嘎? Sāu-m̀h-sāu _____ gah?
- 貴 gwai
- 平 pèhng
- I can't afford it.
- 我俾唔起. Ngóh béi m̀h héi.
- I don't want it.
- 我唔要. Ngóh m̀h yiu.
- You're cheating me.
- 你呃緊我嘅. Néih āk gán ngóh gé.
- I'm not interested.
- 我無興趣. Ngóh móuh hing cheui.
- OK, I'll take it.
- 好, 我要呢件. Hóu, ngóh yiu nī gihn.
- Can I have a bag?
- 可唔可以俾個袋我呀? Hó-m̀h-hó'yi béi go dói ngóh a?
- Do you ship (overseas)?
- 你哋送唔送貨(去外國)嘎? Néihdeih sung-m̀h-sung fo (heui ngoihgwok) gah?
- I need...
- 我要... Ngóh yiu...
- ...牙膏. ngàh gōu.
- ...a toothbrush.
- ...牙刷. ngàh chaat.
- ...衛生巾. waihsāng'gān.
- ...番挸. fāan'gáan.
- ...洗頭水. sái'tàuhséui.
- ...pain reliever. (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen)
- ...止痛藥. jí'tung yeuhk.
- ...cold medicine.
- ...感冒藥. gám'mouh yeuhk.
- ...stomach medicine.
- ...胃藥. waih yeuhk.
- ...a razor.
- ...剃鬚刀. taisōudōu.
- ...an umbrella.
- ...遮. jē.
- ...sunblock lotion.
- ...太陽油. taaiyèuhngyàuh.
- ...a postcard.
- ...名信片. mìhngseunpín.
- ...postage stamps.
- ...郵票. yàuhpiu.
- ...電池. dihnchìh.
- ...writing paper.
- ...信紙. seunjí.
- ...a pen.
- ...筆. bāt.
- ...a pencil.
- ...鉛筆. yùnbāt.
- ...mobile phone.
- ... 手提電話. sáutài dihnwah.
- ...English-language books.
- ...英文書. Yīngmàhn syū.
- ...English-language magazines.
- ...英文雜誌. Yīngmàhn jaahpji.
- ...an English-language newspaper.
- ...英文報紙. Yīngmàhn boují.
- ...an English-English dictionary.
- ...英英字典. Yīngyīng jihdín.
- I want to rent a car.
- 我想租車. Ngóh séung jōu chē.
- Can I get insurance?
- 邊度可以買保險嘎? Bīndouh hó'yi máaih bóu hím gah?
- stop (on a street sign)
- 停 tìhng
- one way
- 單程路 dāanchìhnglouh
- 讓 yeuhng
- no parking
- 不准泊車 bātjéun paakchē
- speed limit
- 速度限制 chūkdouh haahnjai
- gas (petrol) station
- 油站 yàuhjaahm
- 汽油 heiyàuh
- 柴油 chàaihyàuh
- I haven't done anything wrong.
- 我無做錯野. Ngóh móuh jouh cho yéh.
- It was a misunderstanding.
- 件事係誤會. Ginh sih haih ngh-wuih.
- Where are you taking me?
- 你帶我去邊? Néih daai ngóh heui bīn.
- Am I under arrest?
- 我係唔係俾人拉左呀? Ngóh haih-m̀h-haih béi yàhn lāai jó a?
- I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen.
- 我係 美國/澳州/英國/加拿大 公民. Ngóh haih Méihgwok/Oujāu/Yīng'gwok/Gānàhdaaih gūngmàhn.
- I want to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate.
- 我要搵 美國/澳州/英國/加拿大 大使館/領事館. Ngóh yiu wán Méihgwok/Oujāu/Yīng'gwok/Gānàhdaaih daaihsigún/líhngsihgún.
- I want to talk to a lawyer.
- 我要搵律師. Ngóh yiu wán leuhtsī.
- Can I just pay a fine now?
- 可唔可以就咁罰錢呀? Hó-m̀h-hó'yi jauh gám faht chín?