How To Say Hello In Cantonese: 20 Useful Ways

Hello In Cantonese

Have you ever experienced traveling to a country without knowing how to communicate with someone? It might be frightening at first, but hey, ‘hello’ can be a powerful word against loneliness. In this blog, you will learn how to say hello in Cantonese.

If you find yourself in a foreign country, not knowing how to start a conversation, you should find a way to say hello. This will surprisingly open you to different possibilities that you might have never imagined. Hold on tight! This journey of learning Cantonese is about to start.

How Do You Say Hello In Cantonese?

The common way to say the greeting in Cantonese is 你好 (nei5 hou2), which literally translates as “you good.” If someone says nei5 hou2 to you, you can simply respond with nei5 hou2 as well.

Because of the different means of acquiring knowledge and information, it is not surprising that people know how to say hello in different languages. Someone who is willing to initiate a conversation should have the capability to speak even basic greetings such as hello, hi, how are you doing, and even thank you.

Saying hello will bring you a lot more possibilities. At first, it will only give you information about something you need. Still, later on, it could lead even to building strong connections with Cantonese people and having a wonderful experience as a traveler. 

Traveling will really take you to good places you have never been before, but it is building connections with the locals that will give you not just fun but a meaningful and unforgettable experience. Who would have thought that these things could be possible by just saying the word hello?

How Do You Greet People In Chinese?

Chinese have an undoubtedly large population. Because of this, their influences in the world, especially their culture, are widely spread. One of the examples is their language. There are different ways to say hello in Chinese, but the most famous one is “Nǐ hǎo” (你好), which comes from the Mandarin dialect. But did you know that there are other ways to say hello in Chinese?

Like other languages, Chinese use different dialects. These different dialects cause the diverse ways of saying hello in Chinese. The two major dialects spoken in Chinese countries are Mandarin and Cantonese.

Let’s learn to have a little bit of knowledge about both dialects.

What Is The Cantonese Language?

Before we start learning the language, let us first learn what is Cantonese and where it is being spoken.

Cantonese is one of many minority dialects in China that is spoken in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and other “China towns” around the world. It is spoken in Guangdong Province as well as in Southern Guangxi Province to the west. More importantly, it is Hong Kong’s main language, as well as Macau’s.

In Cantonese, there are certain things that you should always keep in mind. The first is to know the importance of getting tones right. You should know how words are pronounced. In Cantonese, there are 6 different tones. The tones dictate how you raise, maintain, or lower the pitch of your voice to pronounce a word.  The second is the level of formality. Like other languages, the level of formality will vary depending on the situation and whom you are talking to. This basic knowledge is an essential part of learning Cantonese.

Saying Hello In Cantonese

Do you want to learn how to speak Cantonese? Nothing is impossible when we start on the basics. Saying hello in Cantonese might be hard at first because it has many similarities with a greeting in Mandarin, but there are also differences. Do you want to know how to speak Cantonese? The words and phrases below will surely be helpful for your learning. The words will be divided into three different categories:

Hello In Cantonese Different Greetings

What Are The Different Cantonese Greetings?

Starting a conversation with greetings is one of the most effective ways. It expresses openness and willingness to talk to someone in Cantonese in a respectful way. Here are some of the basic greetings in Cantonese that you need to know.

  • Hello (general greeting) – 你好 (nǐ hǎo)
  • Hello (answering a phone)喂 (wèi)

To make it more meaningful and intentional, why not include the time of the day? Here are the basic greetings and phrases that you can use:

  • Good Morning – 早晨 (jóusàhn)
  • Good Afternoon – 午安 (ńgh ōn)
  • Good Evening
    • 晚安 (máahn ōn)
    • 晚上好 (máahnseuhng hóu)
  • Good Night – 早抖 (jóutáu)

There are also other greetings that are used in certain situations like the following:

  • How are you? – 你好嗎? (néih hóu ma)
  • Reply to “How are you?” in Cantonese我幾好,你呢 (ngóh géi hóu, néih nē)
  • Welcome – 歡迎 (fùnyìhng)
  • Goodbye
    • 再見 (zài jiàn)
    • 拜拜 (bāaibaai)
  • Good luck – 祝你好運 (jūk néih hóuwahn)
Hello In Cantonese Introduce Yourself

Introducing Yourself In Chinese

If, by chance, the greetings get farther and you find someone to whom you can talk for a long time and your conversation gets deeper, you might have to introduce yourself in Cantonese. These are the words that may help you when you are in that situation.

English TranslationCantonesePronunciationSound
What’s your name?你叫(做)乜野名呀?néih giu(jouh) mātyéh méng a
néih dím chìngfù a
My name is …我叫做ngóh giujouh
Where are you from?你係邊度人呀néih haih bīndouh yàhn a
I’m from …我係 … 人ngóh haih … yàhn
Pleased to meet you好開心認識你hóu hòisàm yihngsīk néih

Greeting someone hello might lead to introducing one another, so it will really be helpful to learn some words and phrases to introduce yourself. There are still many words, phrases, and sentences that you need to know, but with this, you can already go a long way.

Hello In Cantonese Important Vocabulary

Important Vocabulary For Saying Hello In Cantonese

Now that you are already familiar with the basic greetings, it is also important to know the important vocabulary that you might actually use while conversing. If someone asks you something, how will you answer? If someone says a nice thing to you and lights up your mood, what Cantonese words for emotions will you say? If you accidentally hurt someone, how will you apologize in Cantonese?

It is not enough to just learn how to say hello in Cantonese. But you should also learn how to respond and continue the conversation.

Here are some words to start learning with:

Translation in EnglishCantonesePronunciationSound
Thank you多謝dō zé
Excuse me (to get attention)請問chéngmahn
Excuse me (to get past)唔該m̀hgòi
Excuse me (used when leaving for a while)失陪 sàtpùih

No唔系m hěi
Maybe大概dǎi gói

Like in any culture, words such as “please” and “thank you” are important when speaking to someone in Cantonese. If you are a foreigner in their country or even just beginning to learn their language, expressing politeness should always be your top priority to avoid misunderstandings. Also, you might want to read about Hong Kong culture facts before going there.

Other Ways On How To Say Hello In Cantonese

Saying hello to someone in Cantonese might not always use the words “hi” or “hello.” Sometimes there are different ways to check on someone’s current state of well-being without using that word. Like what is said above, a simple hello might lead you to a deeper conversation.

Here are different ways how to say hello in Cantonese.

1. néih hóu ma (你好嗎?)

to know about the person’s state or condition.

This phrase basically means “How are you?” in English. This is just a question, but it could actually mean a lot to whom you are talking to. Always remember that to say this in Cantonese, you should lower your pitch on the last word, rather than raising it.

2. sik jor fahn mei ah (食咗飯未呀?)

to know about their well-being.

In English, this literally means that you are asking, “Have you eaten yet?” Asking someone if they have already eaten is also a way of greeting someone hello. If the other person answered yes, then you will be glad to know that they are in good condition, and if the other person said no, you might end up having a meal and having a long conversation about your current situation.

Hello In Cantonese Speak With Natives

Speak With Natives To Know More About Cantonese

Hong Kong is one of the most beautiful places in the world where you can actually feel genuine happiness. From the famous tourist spots to the Chinese people that you might encounter, to show your respect as a foreigner, you should at least learn how to speak Cantonese.

Some of the locals might know how to speak English, but it is still better to exert an effort in learning their language, even just the basic ones. From there, locals will feel your openness to discover their culture. Greeting someone hello might be a small and easy thing to do, but it can actually change the entire day of someone. So, if you are planning to learn how to speak Cantonese, start with just a simple hello and work your way up. It will surely lead you somewhere else.

Don’t Want To Travel Yet? Learn With The Ling App!

If you’re not dead-set on traveling to Hong Kong to learn Cantonese yet, or you’re still planning for your trip, then a handy language-learning app like Ling will be your best friend!

The Ling app contains 200+ lessons for Cantonese, including speaking, writing, listening, and reading exercises. And that’s not all, you’ll also get an AI chatbot to interact and practice your Cantonese.

Ready to learn more about the Ling app? Then download it on the Play Store or App Store now!

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