Introducing 40 Common Cantonese Verbs That’s Easy To Learn

Common Cantonese Verbs

To eat (食 sik6), to buy (買 maai5), to go 去 heoi3. All of these fall into one category, which is verbs. Common Cantonese verbs (動詞 dung6 ci4) are the first things you should know when learning Cantonese. Verbs are an essential part of sentence structure. Verbs are words that show actions, and almost every sentence requires a verb to complete its thought.

Cantonese is the language spoken by most people in Hong Kong. In this blog, prepare yourself to learn the common Cantonese verbs. Don’t worry because you’ll be guided by the English translations and Pinyin to have a meaningful learning experience. So, find a comfortable place, and let’s start learning Cantonese now.

Facts To Remember When Using Cantonese Verbs

Every language has its way of expressing verbs. There are rules to follow and tenses to use. But, in Cantonese, which is also true in another Chinese language like Mandarin, it’s different. How? Keep on reading.

You should know about Cantonese verbs because they have no tenses, which means Cantonese verbs do not change words according to tenses. In fact, Cantonese speakers use time words to indicate if the action is already done, still happening, or will happen. Verbs are not conjugated. Unlike in English, a Cantonese action word will not change according to its tense. Instead, they use Cantonese adverbs to express what others can communicate in English or other languages.

To indicate that the action took place in the past, use this formula:

 verb + 咗 (zo2) = past tense

Example: 食咗 (sik6 zo2) – ate

Another thing that you should know about Cantonese verbs because there are verbs that are expressed differently in spoken and written language. But, some words are expressed the same way for both written and spoken.

There’s so much to learn about the common Cantonese verbs, especially when used in sentences. But for now, learning the basic action words in Cantonese can take you a long way. If you want to be fluent in Cantonese, you can search the Ling app on the internet or download it from the Play Store or App Store.

Common Cantonese Verbs With Example Sentences

Let’s Learn Cantonese Verbs With Example Sentences

Learning common Cantonese verbs, both written and spoken is important because they can be used all the time. Here are examples of common Cantonese verbs you’ll need to know when you start to learn the Cantonese language.

Learn Cantonese Action Verbs

Learning common Cantonese verbs should definitely begin with action verbs, which you can use in many situations like traveling around, dining in Cantonese restaurants and food carts, having drinks with friends, asking directions, riding public Cantonese transportation, and more. Therefore, here are the common Cantonese verbs that you must learn as a beginner.

English TranslationCantoneseSoundPinyinSentenceSound
to eat
sik6 (spoken)
hek3 (written)
(heoi3 mak6 dong1 lou4 sik6 syun3 laa1.)
Let’s just eat at McDonald’s.

to sleep瞓覺


fan3 gaau3 (spoken)

seoi6 gaau3 (written)
(ngo5 dak1 faan1 ng5 fan1 zung1 ho2 ji3 fan3 gaau3)  
I just have 5 minutes more to sleep.

to wake up起身hei2 san1
(both written and spoken)
(ngo5 ziu1 zou2 cat1 dim2 hei2 san1.)  
I wake up at 7 a.m.
to rest休息jau1 sik1
(both written and spoken)
(naam4 jan2 zoi6 diu3 cong4 soeng6 jau1 sik1)
The man rests in the hammock.
to bathe洗澡
sai2 cou3 (spoken)
cung1 loeng4 (written)
(siu2 hing1 dai6 zoi6 maan5 soeng6 muk6 juk6 liu5 )
The brothers bathed in the evening.

to cookzyu2
(both written and spoken)
(hok6 zyu2 gwong2 dung1 coi3)
 Learn to cook Cantonese food.
to putfong3 (both written and spoken)把標誌放在大廈前面。
(baa2 biu1 zi3 fong3 zoi6 daai6 haa6 cin4 min6.)
Put the sign on the front of the building.
to come
lai4/lei4 (spoken)
loi4 (written)
(jat1 go3 sing1 kei4 hau6 wui4 loi4.)
Come back in a week.

to feel覺得
gok3 dak1 (spoken)
gam2 gok3 (written)
(naam4 haai4 zing3 gam2 gok3 naan4 gwo3. )
The boy is feeling sad.

to draw畫畫waat6 waa2 (both written & spoken)畫家畫了圖畫
(waa2 gaa1 waat6 liu5 tou4 waa2.)
The artist drew a picture.
to arrive
dou3 (spoken)
dou3 daat6 (written)
(fu6 can1 dou3 liu5 gung1 jyun2.)
The father arrived at the park.

to goheoi3 (both written & spoken) 不如我哋去第二度?
(bat1 jyu4 ngo5 dei6 heoi3 dai6 ji6 dou6?)
Shall we go somewhere else?
to buymaai5 (both written & spoken)喺邊度買飛?
hai2 bin1 dou6 maai5 fei1?
Where can I buy a ticket?
to return返(屋企
faan1 uk1 kei2 (spoken)
wui4 gaa1 (written)
(fu6 can1 zing3 zoi6 jyu1 maan5 soeng6 wui4 gaa1.)
The father is returning in the evening.

to arrive
dou3 (spoken)
dou3 daat6 (written)
(maa4 maa1 dou3 liu5 gung1 jyun2. )
The mother arrived at the park.

to want想要soeng2 jiu3 (both written & spoken)我今日想試啲特別嘅嘢。
(ngo5 gam1 jat6 soeng2 si3 di1 dak6 bit6 ge3 je5 )
 I want to try something different today.
to readduk6 (both written & spoken) 喺你可以掌握之前,大聲讀句子。(hai2 nei5 ho2 ji5 zoeng2 aak1 zi1 cin4, daai6 seng1 duk6 geoi3 zi2)
Read sentences out loud until you master them.
to explain解釋gaai2 sik1 (both written & spoken)愛就係愛。解釋唔到。
(oi3 zau6 hai6 oi3. gaai2 sik1 m4 dou2. )
Love is just love. It can never be explained.
to teachgaau3 (both written & spoken)老師教過班。
(lou5 si1 gaau3 gwo3 baan1.)
The teacher taught the class.
to askman6 (both written & spoken)你介唔介意我問呀?
(nei5 gaai3 m4 gaai3 ji3 ngo5 man6 aa3)
Do you mind me asking?
to give俾/畀
bei2 (spoken)
kap1 (written)
(ho2 m4 ho2 ji3 bei2 go3 zit3 tau4 ngo5 aa3?)
Could you give me a discount?

to move
juk1 (spoken)
dung6 (written)
(bat1 jiu3 dung6)
Don’t move.

to receivesau1 (both written & spoken)人生最大嘅禮物係友誼,而我已經收到喇。
(jan4 sang1 zeoi3 daai6 ge3 lai5 mat6 hai6 jau5 ji4, ji4 ngo5 ji5 ging1 sau1 dou2 laa3. )
 The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.
to drinkjam2 (spoken)
喝 hot3 (written)
(jam2 zeon1 zon1 jam2 ban2)
Drink from a plastic bottle.
to walk
haan4 (spoken)
zau2 (written)
(neoi5 haai4 zau2 gan6 sip3 luk6 gei1)
The girl walks towards the video camera.

to runpaau2 (written and spoken)我跑。
(ngo5 paau2)
I run.
to understand
ming4 (spoken)
lei5 gaai2 (written)
(ngo5 ming4)
I understand.

to introduce介紹gaai3 siu6 (spoken and written)介紹廣東話
(gaai3 siu6 gwong2 dung1 waa2)
Introduce Cantonese.
to share分享fan1 hoeng2分享意見
(fan1 hoeng2 ji3 gin3)
Share one’s view.
to think
lam2 (spoken)
soeng2 (written)
(neoi5 jan2 soeng2 daap3 on3)
The woman thinks about the answer.

to know認識jing6 sik1 (both written and spoken)認識自己
(jing6 sik1 zi6 gei2)
Know yourself.
to usejung6 (both written and spoken)程式設計員用電腦。
(cing4 sik1 cit3 gai3 jyun4 jung6 din6 nou5)
The programmer uses the computer.
to talk
gong2 (spoken)
syut3 (written)
(nei5 gong2 me1)
What are you talking about?

to leave離開lei6 hoi1 (spoken and written)離開公司
(lei6 hoi1 gung1 si1)
Leave a company.
to waitdang2 (spoken and written)遊客等火車。
(jau4 haak3 dang2 fo2 ce1)
The traveler waits for the train.
to calldaa2 (spoken and written)打電話
(daa2 din6 waa2)
Make a phone call.
to like鍾意
zung6 ji3 (spoken)
hei2 fun1 (written)
(ngo5 zung1 ji3 tai2 jat6 lok6)
I like watching the sunset.

to writese2 (spoken and written)我寫。
(ngo5 se2)
I will write.
to find
wan2 (spoken)
zaau2 (written)
(ngo5 wan2 nei5)
I will find you.

to sit
co5 (spoken)
zo6 (written)
* same character, different pronunciation
ngo5 co5
(I will sit.)
Common Cantonese Verbs Helping Verbs

What Are Cantonese Helping Verbs?

There are many types of verbs in Cantonese grammar that help assist what the subject of the sentence is doing and thus complete the sentence thought. Now that you have learned some common Cantonese verbs in written and spoken form, let us also learn some Cantonese helping verbs.

English TranslationCantonesePinyinSound
havejau5 (written and spoken)
not have
mou5 (spoken)
mut6 jau5 (written)

cansik1 (spoken)
needjiu3 (written and spoken)
should應該jing1 goi1 (written and spoken)

What Are Cantonese Linking Verbs?

Linking verbs are also used in a typical Cantonese sentence. Most conversational Cantonese sentences will include these essential linking verbs. Don’t remember what they are? Here are the common linking verbs to start with.

English TranslationCantonesePinyinSound
hai6 (spoken)
si6 (written)

not be唔係
m4 hai6 (spoken)
 bat1 si6 (written)

What’s Next In Learning The Common Cantonese Verbs?

Cantonese is a beneficial language to learn. Now that you have learned the Common Cantonese verbs, you are probably wondering what to do next. Well, the answer is simple. Learn Cantonese with the Ling app. If you would like to improve your speaking and writing skills in Cantonese, the Ling app is undoubtedly the best language-learning partner for you.

 Say goodbye to hassles and books. If you download the Ling app, you’ll have access to free language lessons that are well-categorized and well-prepared. Each lesson is designed in a way where you can learn and have fun at the same time. Vocabulary building, and improving writing and speaking skills will not be a problem. Words and phrases are presented like flashcards with audio recordings from a native speaker and images to guide your learning.

Please remember that learning languages can be hard at first, but when you have the motivation and the right tool, like the Ling app, you can speak Cantonese like a native speaker in just a short period of time.

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