45+ Simple Cantonese Words: Learn Essential Phrases Easily

A pretty lady in OK hand sign beside the simple Cantonese words text.

Cantonese is a dynamic language that opens doors to fascinating cultures and opportunities in Hong Kong and Guangdong, China.

As an aspiring Cantonese speaker, you might wonder how to choose the most effective words and phrases for smooth, engaging conversations. Don’t worry; you’re in the right place.

We’re here to share examples to help you learn simple Cantonese words for everyday conversations. Are you ready? Let’s begin!

A Quick Introduction To Cantonese

First, let me give you an introduction to the Cantonese language.

Cantonese is a Chinese language spoken by millions of people in southern China, Hong Kong, and Macau. 

With its six tones and unique vocabulary, Cantonese is known for its expressiveness and musical quality.

Tones play a crucial role in speaking Cantonese, as the meaning of a word can change depending on the tone used. 

So, becoming familiar with the six tones will significantly improve your pronunciation and understanding.

And to help learners read and write Chinese characters, there are Romanization systems like Yale and Jyutping. 

These systems represent Cantonese pronunciation using the Latin alphabet, making it easier for non-native speakers to learn.

Simple Words In Cantonese For Daily Conversations

Now that you have an overview of Cantonese, it’s time to learn lesser-known but still simple words and phrases. 

By learning these words, you can express yourself more authentically and effectively. 

Let’s take a look at some examples across different categories.

For Greetings And Farewells

In addition to the Cantonese common greetings, there are more specific ways to greet people. Here are five examples with usage explanations:

  1. 哩喳 (le1 za1) – Hey, or What’s up?
  • Usage in a sentence: 哩喳,最近點呀?(le1 za1, zeoi3 gan6 dim2 aa3?) – Hey, how have you been recently?
  1. 夜唞 (je6 dau3) – Good night
  • Usage in a sentence: 今晚夜唞! (gam1 maan5 je6 dau3!) – Good night tonight!
  1. 到會見 (dou3 wui5 gin3) – See you at the event
  • Usage in a sentence: 下星期到會見! (haa6 sing1 kei4 dou3 wui5 gin3!) – See you at the event next week!
  1. 慢走 (maan6 zau2) – Take care (when someone is leaving)
  • Usage in a sentence: 下次見,慢走! (haa6 ci3 gin3, maan6 zau2!) – See you next time, take care!
  1. 好耐冇見 (hou2 noi6 mou5 gin3) – Long time no see
  • Usage in a sentence: 好耐冇見,你近來點呀? (hou2 noi6 mou5 gin3, nei5 gan6 loi4 dim2 aa3?) – Long time no see, how have you been?
A woman pointing at a shopping window showing her desired item to her husband.

For Shopping

Now, let’s explore some simple Cantonese words and phrases related to shopping. 

These expressions will help you navigate stores and markets with ease. Here are five examples with usage in sentences:

  1. 折扣 (zit3 kau3) – Discount
  • Usage in a sentence: 呢個產品有折扣嗎? (ni1 go3 caan2 ban2 jau5 zit3 kau3 maa3?) – Is there a discount on this product?
  1. 多少錢 (do1 siu2 cin2) – How much?
  • Usage in a sentence: 呢件衫多少錢? (ni1 gin6 saam1 do1 siu2 cin2?) – How much is this shirt?
  1. 試穿 (si3 cyun1) – Try on
  • Usage in a sentence: 我可以試穿呢對鞋嗎?(ngo5 ho2 ji5 si3 cyun1 ni1 deoi3 haai4 maa3?) – Can I try on these shoes?
  1. 退貨 (teoi3 fo3) – Return
  • Usage in a sentence: 如果唔合適,可以退貨嗎? (jyu4 go2 m4 hap6 sik1, ho2 ji5 teoi3 fo3 maa3?) – Can I return it if it doesn’t fit?
  1. 支付 (zi1 fu3) – Payment
  • Usage in a sentence: 我哋接受信用卡支付。(ngo5 dei6 zip3 sau6 seon3 jung6 kaat1 zi1 fu3.) – We accept credit card payments.

For Dining

In this section, we will look at some simple Cantonese words and phrases related to dining. 

These expressions will help you order and enjoy meals in Cantonese-speaking regions. Here are five examples:

  1. 菜單 (coi3 daan1) – Menu
  • Usage in a sentence: 可唞借菜單俾我睇下? (ho2 dau3 ze3 coi3 daan1 bei2 ngo5 tai2 haa5?) – Can I take a look at the menu?
  1. 特色菜 (dak6 sik1 coi3) – Signature dish
  • Usage in a sentence: 你哋嘅特色菜係咩?(nei5 dei6 ge3 dak6 sik1 coi3 hai6 me1?) – What is your signature dish?
  1. 素食 (sou3 sik6) – Vegetarian
  • Usage in a sentence: 有冇素食選擇? (jau5 mou5 sou3 sik6 syun2 zaak6?) – Are there any vegetarian options?
  1. 辣度 (laat6 dou6) – Spiciness
  • Usage in a sentence: 呢個菜嘅辣度可以調整嗎? (ni1 go3 coi3 ge3 laat6 dou6 ho2 ji5 tiu4 zing3 maa3?) – Can the spiciness of this dish be adjusted?
  1. 打包 (daa2 baau1) – Takeaway, to-go
  • Usage in a sentence: 我想要打包。(ngo5 soeng2 jiu3 daa2 baau1.) – I’d like to take this to-go.
Tourists in Hong Kong looking at a map with simple words in Cantonese language.

Asking For Directions

Now, let’s examine simple words and phrases related to asking for directions

These will be helpful when navigating unfamiliar areas. Let’s have a look at some examples:

  1. 麻煩指路 (maa4 faan4 zi2 lou6) – Please show me the way
  • Usage in a sentence: 麻煩指路去地鐵站。(maa4 faan4 zi2 lou6 heoi3 dei6 tit3 zaam6.) – Please show me the way to the subway station.
  1. 附近 (fu6 gan6) – Nearby
  • Usage in a sentence: 附近有冇銀行? (fu6 gan6 jau5 mou5 ngan4 hong4?) – Is there a bank nearby?
  1. 直行 (zik6 hang4) – Go straight
  • Usage in a sentence: 喺呢條街直行就會見到。(hai2 ni1 tiu4 gaai1 zik6 hang4 zau6 wui5 gin3 dou2.) – Go straight on this street, and you will see it.
  1. 轉 (zyun2) – Turn
  • Usage in a sentence: 喺下個路口轉右。(hai2 haa6 go3 lou6 hau2 zyun2 jau6.) – Turn right at the next intersection.
  1. 地標 (dei6 biu1) – Landmark
  • Usage in a sentence: 有咩地標可以留意? (jau5 me1 dei6 biu1 ho2 ji5 lau4 ji3?) – What landmarks should I look for?

For Traveling

Now, let’s learn simple words in Cantonese for traveling. These terms will be helpful when exploring new places or planning trips. Below are some examples:

  1. 機場 (gei1 coeng4) – Airport
  • Usage in a sentence: 我要去機場。(ngo5 jiu3 heoi3 gei1 coeng4.) – I need to go to the airport.
  1. 酒店 (zau2 dim3) – Hotel
  • Usage in a sentence: 你可以介紹間好嘅酒店嗎?(nei5 ho2 ji5 gaai3 siu6 gaan1 hou2 ge3 zau2 dim3 maa3?) – Can you recommend a good hotel?
  1. 景點 (ging2 dim2) – Sightseeing spot
  • Usage in a sentence: 呢度有咩推薦嘅景點? (ni1 dou6 jau5 me1 teoi1 zin3 ge3 ging2 dim2?) – What sightseeing spots do you recommend here?
  1. 簽證 (cim1 zing3) – Visa
  • Usage in a sentence: 我需要申請簽證嗎? (ngo5 seoi1 jiu3 san1 cing2 cim1 zing3 maa3?) – Do I need to apply for a visa?
  1. 當地文化 (dong1 dei6 man4 faa3) – Local culture
  • Usage in a sentence: 我好想了解當地文化。(ngo5 hou2 soeng2 liu5 gaai2 dong1 dei6 man4 faa3.) – I really want to learn about the local culture.

Describing Feelings And Emotions

Alright! Let’s explore simple Cantonese words to express feelings and emotions that go beyond the basics. 

These Cantonese phrases will help you convey your emotions more precisely and make your conversations more engaging. Let’s dive into these examples:

  1. 攰 (gui6) – Tired
  • Usage in a sentence: 我今日真係好攰。(ngo5 gam1 jat6 zan1 hai6 hou2 gui6.) – I’m really tired today.
  1. 驚 (geng1) – Scared or afraid
  • Usage in a sentence: 我驚黑暗。(ngo5 geng1 hak1 am3.) – I’m afraid of the dark.
  1. 煩 (faan4) – Annoyed
  • Usage in a sentence: 嗰件事令我好煩。(go2 gin6 si6 ling6 ngo5 hou2 faan4.) – That thing is really annoying me.
  1. 好彩 (hou2 coi3) – Lucky
  • Usage in a sentence: 我今次好彩中咗六合彩。(ngo5 gam1 ci3 hou2 coi3 zung1 zo2 luk6 hap6 coi3.) – I’m lucky to have won the lottery this time.
  1. 得意 (dak1 ji3) – Pleased, amused
  • Usage in a sentence: 佢嘅笑話令我好得意。(keoi5 ge3 siu3 waa6 ling6 ngo5 hou2 dak1 ji3.) – His jokes make me very amused.
A traveler ordering food in a restaurant using simple Cantonese words and phrases.

Basic Verbs And Actions

In this section, we will introduce some simple Cantonese verbs and actions you may have yet to encounter. 

These verbs can enhance your conversations and help you express yourself more accurately in various situations. Here are the examples:

  1. 揀 (gaan2) – To choose, pick
  • Usage in a sentence: 我唔知應該揀邊個。(ngo5 m4 zi1 jing1 goi1 gaan2 bin1 go3.) – I don’t know which one to choose.
  1. 聽 (teng1) – To listen, hear
  • Usage in a sentence: 我聽唔到佢講乜嘢。(ngo5 teng1 m4 dou3 keoi5 gong2 mat1 je5.) – I can’t hear what he’s saying.
  1. 搵 (wan2) – To look for, search
  • Usage in a sentence: 我搵唔到我嘅鎖匙。(ngo5 wan2 m4 dou3 ngo5 ge3 so2 si4.) – I can’t find my keys.
  1. 買 (maai5) – To buy
  • Usage in a sentence: 我想買部新手機。(ngo5 soeng2 maai5 bou6 san1 sau2 gei1.) – I want to buy a new mobile phone.

Useful Adjectives And Adverbs

Lastly, here are some simple yet less common Cantonese adjectives and adverbs. 

These words will help you describe things and situations more vividly, allowing you to express your thoughts and opinions better. Let’s look at these examples:

  1. 突然 (dat6 jin4) – Suddenly, abruptly
  • Usage in a sentence: 佢突然間唞咗。(keoi5 dat6 jin4 gaan1 dau3 zo2.) – He suddenly fell asleep.
  1. 嚴重 (jim4 zung6) – Serious, severe
  • Usage in a sentence: 今次嘅風暴好嚴重。(gam1 ci3 ge3 fung1 bou6 hou2 jim4 zung6.) – The storm this time is very severe.
  1. 寬鬆 (fun1 sung1) – Loose, relaxed
  • Usage in a sentence: 我鍾意著寬鬆嘅衫。(ngo5 zung1 ji3 zoek6 fun1 sung1 ge3 saam1.) – I like to wear loose clothes.
  1. 溫柔 (wan1 jau4) – Gentle, tender
  • Usage in a sentence: 佢嘅歌聲好溫柔。(keoi5 ge3 go1 seng1 hou2 wan1 jau4.) – Her singing voice is very gentle.

More Cantonese Simple Words and Phrases

Now, it’s time for additional words and phrases that cover a wide range of topics and situations. These will help you learn even more Cantonese vocabulary. 

Let’s discover new ways to communicate in Cantonese:

Cantonese廣東話gwong2 dung1 waa2
Don’t mention it唔使客氣jing1 man4 coi3 daan1
Good evening晚唞maan5 tau2
Good morning早晨zou2 san4
Good night早抖m4 ho2 ji5
How are you?你好嗎?nei5 hou2 maa3?
I don’t know我唔知ngo5 m4 zi1
Mainland China中國內地zung1 gwok3 noi6 dei6
Other languages其他語言kei4 ta1 jyu5 jin4
Please/Thank you唔 該m4 goi1
Speak English講英文gong2 jing1 man4
Speak Cantonese講廣東話gong2 gwong2 dung1 waa2
Sorry對 唔 住deoi3 m4 zyu6

By familiarizing yourself with these words and phrases, you are laying the foundation for more effective communication in various situations. 

Consistent practice is the key to success, so continue learning Cantonese and use these expressions to build your vocabulary. 

Your efforts will undoubtedly lead to a richer and more fulfilling language learning experience.

Learn Simple Cantonese Words With Ling!

Looking to improve your Cantonese language skills? Use the Ling app! Our language learning platform is perfect for both beginners and advanced learners. 

At Ling, we understand the importance of learning Cantonese words and phrases for daily conversations. 

That’s why our app offers a variety of resources and features to help you improve your language skills in all of these areas.

So why wait? Download the Ling app for iOS or Android now!

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