Common Mistakes in Cantonese  Home

 

 

English

Students' translation

Suggested translation / just a more common way

Literal meanings of the suggested translation / Remarks

1

See you soon

hou faai gin

yat-jahn gin/ jahn-gaan gin / yat-jahn-gaan gin

See you a moment later

2

How are you?

neih hou ma?

 

It's grammatically correct. However, it's not Hong Kong people's habit to say "How are you?" among them.

3

I wish you well / Nice to meet you

neih hou?

neih hou

I wish you well (If someone say "neih hou" to you, you should say "neih hou" to him or her.)

4

See you tomorrow

ting-yaht joi-gin

ting-yaht gin

 

5

I prefer to go at 7:00

-

ngoh seung chat-dim heui / ngoh gok-dak chat-dim heui hou-di

Cantonese doesn’t the the word “prefer” exactly

 

I prefer this one more

-

ngoh jung-yi ni-go do-di

 

6

How about 10:00?

 

sahp-dim dak m`h dak a?

Can we make it at 10:00? (If you don't know if the addressee can make it or not, people say "... dak m`h dak a?")

 

How about 10:00?

 

sahp-dim hou m`h hou a?

Is it good to make it at 10:00? (If you know the addressee can make it, you just don't know he/she prefers it or not, people say "... hou m`h hou a?")

7

my wife

ngoh ge taai-taai

ngoh taai-taai

poessive marker “ge” is usually skipped for kindship or closed objects.

 

my company

ngoh ge gung-si

ngoh gung-si

 

 

your friend

neih ge pahng-yauh

neih pahng-yauh

 

 

your home

neih ge uk-kei

neih uk-kei

 

8

I can't go

ngoh m`h dak heui

ngoh m`h heui dak / ngoh m`h ho-yih heui / ngoh heui m`h dou

 

9

It's fine

hou la

hou a (HL)

“a” in HL shows pleased ending here

10

I forgot my book

ngoh m`h gei-dak ngoh bun syu

ngoh m`h gei-dak daai syu

I forgot to bring my book

11

I like coke

ngoh jung-yi ho-lohk

ngoh jung-yi yam ho-lohk

I like “drinking” coke

12

I gave her money

ngoh bei neih chin

ngoh bei chin keuih

I gave money to her

13

She is very short (opposite of tall)

 

keuih hou ai

 

 

The pen is very short (opposite of long)

 

ji-bat hou dyun

 

14

He is very thin (opposite of fat)

 

keuih hou sau

 

 

The book is very thin (opposite of thick)

 

bun-syu hou bohk

 

15

I could do 4:00-5:00

 

ngoh ho-yih ngh-dim dou luhk-dim hoi-wui (eg. arrange a meeting)

Usually, Cantonese would mention the exact action instead of just using "do".

16

A: Will you come?

 

 

 

 

B: Depends

 

eg. tai hah dak m`h dak haahn

take a look if I'm free

 

A: Are taxi drivers in Hong Kong nice?

 

 

 

 

B: Depends

 

yat-di-di / yat-di hou, yat-di m`h-hou

some are nice, some are not nice

17

late (being late)

 

chih-dou

 [late + arrive]

 

late (in the day time)

 

aan

 

 

late (at night)

 

yeh

 

 

late (happen late)

 

chih

 

18

later (in the future)

 

chih-di

 

 

later, later on (in the past)

 

hauh-mei / hau-mei / hauh-meih

 

 

later (in the day time)

 

aan-di

 

 

later (at night)

 

yeh-di

 

19

after that

 

ji-hauh

 

 

after 3:00

ji-hauh saam-dim

saam-dim ji-hauh

 

 

before 3:00

ji-chihn saam-dim

saam-dim ji-chihn

 

20

I have no free time

ngoh mouh dak-haahn

ngoh m`h dak-haahn / ngoh mouh sih-gaan

I'm not free / I have no time

21

fatter

 

feih-di

 

 

fatter than

 

feih-gwo

 

 

He is taller than me

keuih gou di ngoh

keuih gou-gwo ngoh

 

 

He is taller

 

keuih gou-di

 

22

I don't know if he will come

ngoh m`h ji yuh-gwo keuih laih

ngoh m`h ji keuih laih m`h laih

if: yuh-gwo is only used in conditional sentences. eg. If it rains, he won’t come.

23

Do you have any pens? / Do you have a pen?

neih yauh mouh ji bat a?

neih yauh mouh bat a?

non specific referring, don’t need any measure words (classifiers)

24

He asked (requested) me to do homework

keuih mahn ngoh jouh gung-fo

keuih giu ngoh jouh gung-fo

 

 

He asked me a question

 

keuih mahn ngoh yat-go mahn-taih

 

25

everyweek

muih laih-baai

muih-go laih-baai

MW “go” is needed

 

everyday

-

muih yaht

exception, “day” doesn’t take MW

26

very very tall

hou hou gou

hou gou hou gou (less common) / jan-haih hou gou (more common)

Catonese don’t say “very very” as English speakers do.

[very tall very tall / really very tall]

 

tasty

hou sihk

tasty

[good + eat]

 

very tasty

hou hou sihk

very tasty

[very + good + eat] / [very + tasty]

27

one and a half hour

yat bun go jung / yat bun jung

yat go bun jung (less common) / go bun jung (more common)

 

 

two and a half hour

 

leuhng go bun jung

 

28

I fogot many thangs

ngoh m`h-gei-dak hou-do yeh

hou-do yeh ngoh dou m`h-gei-dak

just more common

 

I fogot all things

ngoh m`h-gei-dak so-yauh yeh

so-yauh yeh ngoh dou m`h-gei-dak / ngoh m`h-gei-dak saai so-yauh yeh

just more common

 

 

 

 

30

this aeroplane

go ga fei-gei

ni ga fei-gei

when there’s only one in front of them, they say “this” but not “that”, no matter how far is it.

 

this mountain

go joh saan

ni joh saan

 

31

man

naahm yan

naahm jai

for adults, they usually say “boy” or “girl/lady” instead of “man” or “woman”.

 

woman

neuih yan

neuih jai

“man” or “woman” are used for really middle aged people.

32

He is very sick

keuih hou behng

keuih behng dak hou gan-giu

[he sick + PS + very serious]

If a Hong Kong person say “keuih hou behng” means “He’s very crazy”

33

He is very old (for age)

 

keuih hou louh

 

 

These clothes are very old (opposite of new)

 

ni-di saam hou gauh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remarks:

 

Symbols

Stand for

Remarks

 

 

 

HL

high level

 

HR

high rising

 

ML

middle level

 

LF

low falling

 

LR

low rising

 

LL

low level

 

 

 

 

 [   ]

literal meanings 

 

 PS

structure particles 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                               

 

?@?O訐??? ?昀?????