Learn Cantonese
for Hong Kong Travel

We are going to learn Cantonese for Hong Kong travel.

Cantonese is not a national language. It is only a dialect mainly spoken in south China. Over 90% of the Hong Kong population is Cantonese. I am born to speak Cantonese, so it is easy. However learn to speak Cantonese is difficult.

What makes Cantonese difficult to learn is we don’t speak what we write. Unlike Mandarin, we don’t even have a standardized phonetic system. Hence there is no standard way of learning it.

Luckily, you don’t really have to learn to speak Cantonese for Hong Kong travel. Everybody in Hong Kong speaks English, because we have been a British colony for one and a half centuries. Everything in Hong Kong is bilingual. Unless you go to some extremely localized shops or restaurants, you don’t really have any language barrier.

Learn Cantonese Phrases for Fun

As a Hong Kong tourist, you would come across people saying some Cantonese phrases everyday. Knowing what they say would be fun. Speaking some Cantonese would be extra fun.

As I said, there is no standard way to learn Cantonese. I just base on the sound and try to make a close translation. Bear in mind, English tone is usually slightly higher than Cantonese. Read my Anna-invented translation, and try to lower your tone a bit. This will make your pronunciation more close to the real one.

早晨 Jo sun
Good morning

吾該 Mmm goi
Thank you – this is used in the same way as ‘thank you’ in English.

多謝 Dor tse
Thank you – for receiving a gift or a big favor, like someone introduce you a job or give you business. Therefore, when you buy something, the salesman will usually say ‘dor tse’ 多謝 instead of ‘mmm goi’ 吾該.

你好嗎 Lei ho ma?
How are you?

我好好 Or ho ho
I’m fine

食左飯未 Sik jor farn mei?
Have you eaten yet? This is an extremely common Cantonese phrase used to start a conversation. Chinese (not only Cantonese) usually show their caring of others by asking whether they’ve eaten yet.

幾多錢 Gei dor tsin?
How much?

平 d 啦 Paang d la
Cheaper please

快 d 啦 Fai d La
Hurry up please

好好食 Ho ho sik
Yummy, very delicious

埋單 Mai darn
Show me my bill. Say this after eating at a restaurant. You would hear people saying this when they are ready to pay and go.

Though this is Cantonese, it is used in any Chinese societies worldwide. Try say it in Beijing, waiters will understand.

恭喜發財 Gung hei fat choi
Wish you making lots of lucky money. This is another extremely common Cantonese phrase. If you come to Hong Kong during Chinese New year, you would hear everybody saying this to each other.

Anna's Notes
Learn Cantonese is just a matter of fun. Speak Cantonese is not quite necessary as English is widely used in Hong Kong.


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