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Home > Useful Information > Useful Cantonese Phrases Life is short; let's living / study abroad!

Useful Cantonese Phrases

Here are some useful Cantonese phrases for your survival in Hong Kong. Chinese language is one of the hardest languages to learn in the world (because of its flexibility, which is a nice feature); and Cantonese is the hardest of the hardest. It is mostly because Cantonese has 9 tones and the same pronunciation with different tones (or even the same tone!) may means something totally different. 

Since I am not a phonetic expert, I can only think of using musical tones for advising purpose. Thus, for example, 'Thank you' in Cantonese is 多謝 doh jeh, and it will be presented here as doh(s) jeh(m). In which, (s) = so; and (m) = mi. Therefore, you would pronounce the Cantonese word like when you are singing. You may also find this little help in other sections of the site.

Hints, (d) = do (r) = re(m) = mi (f) = fa (s) = so (l) = la (t) = ti

I am so shocked why all the giant publishers in the world would never think of any way to improve their phrase book or something on the part of the tones. My friends and I had a very hard time using those books in China and they were simply useless because of the problem brought about by the tones - no one knew what we were saying even when we got the pronunciation correct.

Try to make a friend with a local student if you are looking for a Cantonese / Mandarin teacher. I am not capable for that :-)

Everything in this table is based on my knowledge of the Cantonese language. So it is not anything 'official'. I doubt about the official pronunciation all the times by the way as they sound very strange in many cases. On the other hand, many foreigners have tried using my creation and they were understood by the locals.

It may not be political correct to talk about the Cantonese bad words, but I believe its critical to know it so you would understand when the locals are being rude to you - though it wouldn't happen 99% of the time.

You need Windows Media Player to play the demo. (Download Word file)


Cantonese Demo





 唔係 m(d) hai(m)

 Thank you

 多謝 dor(s) jeh(m)


 唔該 m(d) goi(s)


 對唔住 dui(f) m(d) cui (m)


 你好 nei(f) ho(s)

 See you

 再見 joi(f) gin(f)

 Good morning

 早晨 joe(s) son(d)

 Good afternoon

 午安 nmm(f) on(s)

 Good evening

 晚安 mount(f) on(s)

 I don't understand

 唔明 m(d) ming(d)

 I / Me




 How are you

 你好嗎 nei(f) ho(s) ma(s)

 Good / Fine


 No good

 唔好 m(d) ho(s)

 Restroom / Bathroom

 洗手間 sai(s) sau(s) gaan(s)
























  + sup(m) yat(s)


  + yee(m) sup(m)

 Twenty one

  + + yee(m) sup(m) yat(s)


 () bark(f)


 () chin(s)

 10 Thousands

 () mount(m)

 How much

 幾多錢 gei(f) doh(s) chin(s)

 Credit card

 信用咭 shun(f) yung(m) ka(s)

 The bill / check

 埋單 maai(d) daan(s)


 啤酒 beh(s) jau(s)




 可樂 hall(s) loc(m)

 Train + Station

 火車 + foh(s) che(s) + jaam(m)

 Underground / Subway

 地鐵 dei(m) tit(f)

 Dorm / Residence

 宿舍 shuk(s) shair(f)






(Use the words below with caution!)


 Fuck + You

 diu(s) + nei(f)




 gau(s) / nung(s)

 Mother Fucker

 diu(s) nei(f) lo(f) mo(s)

 Suck My Dick

 hum(d) nung(s)

 Idiot / Dickhead

 chut(m) / on (m) gau(s) czai(s)


 nung(s) yeung(s)

 Shit / Fuck off / Drop dead

 poke(s) guy(s)


 hum(m) ga(s) chang(s)

Anyway, there is a illustration-phrasebook that I have bought from a bookstore here. It's very useful. Just US$15 and you have about 10,000 words with illustrations in 5 different languages! Chinese, Japanese, German, French and English! The publisher is DK - Dorling Kindersley.

Cantonese and English language programs for ethnic minority

Caritas HK - 21475988, 27413767, 24430328
HK Family Welfare Society - 24269621
HK SKH Lady MacLehose Centre - 24235064

Last updated: August, 2017 (Version 6.0); since January 01, 2007
Best viewed in 1024 x 768 resolution; IE 11 / Safari / Chrome / Firefox - By Lorencio H M Shiu; all rights reserved MMVII - MMXVII

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