Listen to Podcast | Cantonese: How Do You Say “How Are You?”
Hello – 你好 – nei ho
How are you? – 你好嗎(吗)? – lei ho ma?
Hello (Informal) – 哈囉 – haar loh
How are you? (Informal) – 點呀? – dim ah
Podcast Transcript | Cantonese: How Do You Say “How Are You?”
Hello everyone, 食咗未? My name is Eugene and welcome to our Cantonese How Do You Say Podcast on LearnDialect.sg. Today, you will learn 2 more greeting phrases in Cantonese, after which, I’m sure you will be able to say hello and sound like a natural Cantonese speaker immediately!
Personally, when I meet up with my Cantonese friends, this is what I will say to them immediately, “哈囉, 點呀?”
Yes, I’ve just greeted them entirely in Cantonese. Did you get it? Once again, 哈囉, 點呀?
The first 2 words, 哈囉 – does it sound similar to the English word, “Hello”? In fact, it is the exact same word as we borrowed the word from English and put a Cantonese spin on it. The next 2 characters “點呀” means “How are you?”. These phrases are commonly heard at informal settings such as gatherings among friends.
What about formal settings, for example, when you meet someone senior or when you are attending a business lunch? How do we say “Hello” and “How are you”?
Well, for “Hello”, you can use “你好”. 你” refers to the English word “You” while “好” means “good”. A direct translation would mean “you good” but is interpreted by Cantonese speakers to mean “Hello”.
Ok, so we have just learnt “你好”. If instead of “Hello”, you want to say “How are you?”, the trick is to just add a “嗎” behind it. There you go, “你好嗎?”. Putting a “嗎” at the end signifies a question, and thus it will be interpreted to mean “you good?”, which then refers to “How are you?”. Did you get it?
In fact, you can also combine these with the greetings that you learnt in the previous post.
Now, did you notice that I used two different pronunciations for the same word? They are “Nei” in “你好” and “Lei” in “你好嗎”, respectively. “Nei” is the original pronunciation but increasingly, Cantonese speakers are using “Lei” currently due to changes in the pronunciation of certain syllables, otherwise commonly known as the lazy tone phenomenon. Both versions can be used and honestly, our view is that the correct pronunciation is the one that everyone understands.
Now head out and practise these greetings with a big smile on your face! In the next post, you’ll learn how to introduce yourself in Cantonese. Once again, this is Eugene and thank you for listening into our Cantonese – How Do You Say Podcast on LearnDialect.sg.
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.