Listen to Podcast | Special Episode 5: Asking a Date out in Cantonese

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Podcast Transcript | Special Episode 5: Asking a Date out in Cantonese

Hey there! Welcome back to this special series of Cantonese – How Do You Say Podcast. This is Eugene from LearnDialect.sg. So we are now in the “Say It Like You Own It” segment, where our guest speaker, Eric Chau, and myself focus on helping you sound like a true Cantonese, by learning how to ask some simple but useful Cantonese questions. The last episode was about getting to know someone, including asking about their occupation and hobbies. This week, we’ll focus on asking a date out!

Ready, let’s go!

Eugene

Previously, we were talking about getting to know someone better. And if you’re single, you may like to go on to the next step of asking a date out. What we’re going to talk next is something that you definitely wouldn’t want to miss out on, as we continue our chat with Eric. So Eric, what’s the sweetest thing that you’ve done for a girl?

Eric

“You know, I have been looking around, even when we are together. I look around at other girls, but you are still the best.”

Eugene

Okay, so that’s what you would say to your wife.

Eric

I did, when she caught me looking at other girls.

Eugene

What was her reaction?

Eric

Of course she didn’t believe me.

Eugene

So I guess before we are at the stage of asking someone out, we got to suss out the person’s likes or dislikes. At least, well, that’s what I would do. So in the next few questions that I will be asking in English, we’ll have Eric to help us to translate into Cantonese. Besides learning how to ask questions, we’ll also talk about typical or generic responses to these questions.

Okay, so the first question, what do you like to eat?

Eric

Nei zung yi sek di meh gaa? (你鍾意食啲咩㗎?)

Eugene

How would you expect somebody to respond to a question like that?

Eric

Typical responses will be something like,

Ngor zung yi heoi yum caa. (我鍾意去飲茶.)

Ngor zung yi sek sai caan. (我鍾意食西餐.)

Ngor zung yi sek yat bun yeh. (我鍾意食日本嘢.)

Ngor zung yi sek hon gwok yeh. (我鍾意食韓國嘢.)

Ngor zung yi sek yi daai lei yeh. (我鍾意食意大利嘢.)

Yeh (嘢) refers to the cuisine.

Eugene

Earlier on, you mentioned sai caan, which refers to Western food. Yi daai lei yeh is Italian cuisine.

Yam caa refers to Dim Sum. Yat bun yeh refers to Japanese cuisine. Hon gwok yeh refers to Korean cuisine.

And presume if you’re going out on a date and then you have to ask for a table at the restaurant. So how would you ask for table for two people? Three is too much of a crowd!

Eric

Okay, the receptionist will ask you how many people do you have? The normal response will be, ngor dei yau loeng wai. (我哋有兩位.)

Eugene

This means there’s two of us. Are there any other forms of responses?

Eric

You can also say, ngor seoi yiu loeng gor yan geh toi. (我需要两個人嘅檯.)

Eugene

So literally it means, I need a table for two. All right, so we have covered the question of what you would like to eat. And you can try and observe whether it’s Italian, Japanese, Western cuisine or going simply for Dim Sum.

Next question, what is your favourite place to hang out in Singapore?

Eric

Tung soeng nei zung yi heoi bin dou waan gaa? (通常你鍾意去邊度玩㗎?)

Eugene

Okay, so where do you like to hang out in Singapore then, Eric?

Eric

That’s a very tough question. To be honest, I go to my children’s school most of the time. Supermarkets and city area are my favourite hangouts or rather, places that I must always go. But jokes aside, I normally like to visit small eateries. I like to go to historic places.

Eugene

So you visit the museums and a lot of different cafes.

Eric

Museums, not too often, because if you head there once or twice, it would be enough.

Normally on the weekends, we will try to look for something special for meals, not the typical shopping malls or chain restaurants.

Eugene

So what are some of the special areas that you’ve been to?

Eric

I like places such as Little India, Joo Chiat, Arab Street and Kampong Glam.

Eugene

There’s a lot of Turkish food, etc.

Eric

Yes, local food, Malay food and all that.

Eugene

So that’s where you get a day off from cooking.

Eric

Yes, or when they get sick of my cooking.

Eugene

Ok, you have to go to a supermarket a lot, I presume, to buy all the ingredients for cooking. Do we have a specific term for supermarket in Cantonese?

Eric

Ciu kap si coeng (超級市場).

Eugene

Because in Hokkien, we generally don’t have a phrase or word for it. We just say NTUC or Sheng Shiong or Giant. So that’s the difference, I guess, between Cantonese and Hokkien.

Okay. Earlier on, we covered certain responses to the question, “what do you like to eat?” So now, similarly, we will cover certain typical responses for the favourite places to hang out in Singapore.

Generally, I think for Singaporeans, one of our favourite places to hang out would be the restaurants. So how do we say “restaurants” in Cantonese?

Eric

Normally you can say caan teng (餐廳), but there are different categories. Caan teng may mean some place where you have to spend a bit more money. It can also refer to our caa caan teng (茶餐廳).

Eugene

So caa caan teng is something like our specialised coffee shops in Hong Kong.

Eric

I would say, low-end eateries and eateries – caa caan teng. And we have zau lau (酒樓), a restaurant.

Eugene

And let’s say we go for something that I like a lot – watching movies! So we will go to the cinema. How do we say cinemas in Cantonese?

Eric

Heoi tai hei (去睇戲).

Eugene

Which means going to the movies?

Eric

Right.

Eugene

If you’re more of an outdoors person, you may like to go to the beach. How do we say “beach” in Cantonese?

Eric

Hoi bin (海邊) or saa taan (沙灘).

Eugene

So these are some typical responses to the favourite place to hang out. Now we know where to find Eric in Singapore too – Arab Street, Joo Chiat and Little India.

What is your favourite hobby then?

Eric

I collect coins. I study coins – specific period of history, specific country, specific materials.

Eugene

Wow. So you go really in-depth into it.

Eric

Yes, I will try to spend my free time looking at different coins and studying their history.

Eugene

Well, what are some of the interesting stories or the rarest coin that you have in your collection?

Eric

Okay, we all know what’s happening in Hong Kong recently. It struck my interest to get some of the special coins from Hong Kong. The latest acquisition was 0.1 cent Hong Kong coin. It is the lowest denomination ever issued in Hong Kong. It was issued between 1863 to 1866. The diameter is only 15 mm. So it’s pretty small.

Eugene

Okay, with a face value of 0.10 cents, how much is it worth today?

Eric

In today’s value, you can probably buy a couple of sweets or a pack of sweets. It is hard to imagine what you can buy with such a small coin.

Eugene

I mean, if you look from a value perspective, it is probably a few hundred times today, considering that for only 0.10 cents, you’ll get a pack of sweets. That’s like $1 today!

Eric

Oh, yes, I think so. Yes, easily.

Eugene

So how do you say, “what is your favourite hobby” in Cantonese?

Eric

Nei yau meh si hou aa? (你有咩嗜好呀?)

Eugene

Now we’ll cover certain typical responses. Let’s start with a hobby that Eric likes a lot – cooking.

Eric

Ju yeh (煮嘢).

Eugene

So ju yeh means cooking. And if you are a sporty person, you’d like to play sports

Eric

Zou wan dung (做運動).

Eugene

Last but not least, karaoke! I think this is many people’s favourite pastime. We are not out in the sun. There’s aircon and you can sing your heart out.

Eric

Coeng K (唱K).

Eugene

So these are the three big hobbies. Again, if there are any others that springs to mind, let us know!

Next question, what would your perfect day be like? How do you say that in Cantonese?

Eric

Nei sum muk zung zeoi lei soeng geh yat yat hai dim yoeng dou gwo gaa? (你心目中最理想嘅一日係點樣度過㗎?)

Eugene

For you, what would be a perfect day then? When the kids start to cook and wash the dishes for you?

Eric

No, no, I am just a regular guy. I’m happy with every single day. Every single day is a perfect day.

Eugene

Yeah, but wouldn’t it be better if your wife and kids starts to cook for you or start to do the dishes?

Eric

Then what do I do?

Eugene

Collect coins!

Eric

No no!

Eugene

Eric is a very humble guy. So he rather do the house chores and the dishes, so that his family can rest! Once again, how do we say, “what would your perfect day be like” in Cantonese?

Eric

Nei sum muk zung zeoi lei soeng geh yat yat hai dim yoeng dou gwo gaa? (你心目中最理想嘅一日係點樣度過㗎?)

Eugene

And finally, the big question once you get to know someone better, especially when you think that the person is a potential date, you start to ask, “Can I ask you out? And I’m going to bring you to…” Help me say this in Cantonese, Eric.

Eric

Okay, we won’t use a direct translation of “Can I ask you out?” The most likely scenario will be,

Nei haa gor lai baai dak mm dak hang aa? (你下個禮拜得唔得行呀?)

And if you are a guy, and you talk to a girl, somehow they have some instinct. They’ll know what you mean.

Eugene

Okay, now, I would like to conclude this portion of asking a date out by going through the five questions again, and some typical responses. I’ll say it in English and Eric will help to translate it into Cantonese. So first of all, what do you like to eat?

Eric

Nei zung yi sek di meh gaa? (你鍾意食啲咩㗎?)

Eugene

Okay, and if it’s Japanese?

Eric

Ngor zung yi sek yat bun caan. (我鍾意食日本餐.)

Eugene

Italian?

Eric

Ngor zung yi sek yi daai lei yeh. (我鍾意食意大利嘢.)

Eugene

Any other kind of random response?

Eric

Ngor mat dou zung yi. (我乜都鍾意.)

Eugene

This means, I like everything.

Eric

This is a very dangerous answer.

Eugene

What is your favourite place to hang out in Singapore?

Eric

Nei hai san gaa bo zung yi heoi di meh dei fong? 你喺新加坡鍾意去啲咩地方?

Eugene

If I like to go to restaurants, it will be…

Eric

Ngor zung yi heoi caan teng (我鍾意去餐廳).

Eugene

Movies?

Eric

Ngor zung yi heoi tai hei. (我鍾意去睇戲.)

Eugene

And finally, the beach?

Eric

Ngor zung yi heoi hoi bin (我鍾意去海邊) or saa taan (沙灘).

Eugene

Number three, what is your favourite hobby?

Eric

Nei yau di meh si hou gaa? (你有啲咩嗜好㗎?)

Eugene

If I like to cook?

Eric

Ngor zung yi paang yam. (我鍾意烹飪.)

Eugene

So paang yam would be more formal, right?

Eric

Yes.

Eugene

Okay. Ju yeh (煮嘢) will be more informal. If I like to do sports?

Eric

Zou wan dung (做運動).

Eugene.

And finally, singing our hearts out at the karaoke?

Eric

Coeng K (唱K).

Eugene

Alright! Question number four, what would your perfect day be like?

Eric

Nei sum muk zung zeoi lei soeng geh yat yat hai dim yoeng dou gwo gaa? (你心目中最理想嘅一日係點樣度過㗎?)

Eugene

Okay. And finally, the big question of, “Can I ask you out and I’m going to bring you to…”

Eric

Nei haa gor lai baai dak mm dak hang aa? Ngor soeng daai nei heoi… (你下個禮拜得唔得行呀? 我想帶你去…)

Eugene

And that’s for the couple to decide where to go for themselves!

Hi there! Once again, this is Eugene from LearnDialect.sg. So for this podcast, we have explored various ways of asking a date out. We’ve also provided some common responses in Cantonese. Do you have any other questions that you think are good to understand your potential date better? If so, do let us know by leaving a comment!

Finally, stay tuned for the final episode of this special Cantonese – How Do You Say Podcast series, where you’ll learn how to give compliments as well as be given some further ideas on the topics that you can talk with your date!


Transcript has been edited for readability and clarity.

The opinions expressed by the guest speaker in this podcast are his own and do not reflect the view of LearnDialect.sg.


Keen to learn more about Singapore Cantonese? Here’s the link to our interactive Cantonese Course for Beginners. While spots last!


Our Philosophy for Learning Cantonese in Singapore

At LearnDialect.sg, we want to make learning Cantonese fun, easy and practical for daily conversations in Singapore. As such, rather than figuring out which of the 10 or more Cantonese romanization system to use (e.g. Jyutping, Yale or Cantonese Pinyin etc.), we encourage you to form your own phonics, so that you make an association with these Cantonese words in the quickest way possible. To illustrate, the romanization of the English word, “eat”, is “Sik” using Jyutping and “Sihk” using Yale. However, in our “Have You Eaten?” podcast transcript, you’ll find that we use “sek”, which we think relates to us better. That said, you may use other romanization (e.g “sake”, “xig”, etc), as long as it helps you to make sense of what you hear.