Listen to Podcast | Cantonese: How Do You Say “Sorry”

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New Words

EnglishCantoneseJyutpingOur Romanization
Sorry對唔住
(对不起)
Deoi3 m4 zyu6Deoi mm ju
BuyMaai5Maai
Made a mistake搞錯Gaau2 co3Gaau cor
No such intention / Excuse me冇意思
(没意思)
Mou5 ji3 si1Mou yi si

Podcast Transcript | Cantonese: How Do You Say “Sorry”

Hi there! My name is Eugene and welcome back to our Cantonese – How Do You Say Podcast on LearnDialect.sg. In your daily conversations, how often do you have to apologize? For me, I apologize all the time as I am rather clumsy, often knocking things over. As such, knowing how to say sorry is rather important for me.

In Cantonese, we express sorry as 對唔住. For example, 對唔住, 我冇买你要食嘅雲吞面 which translates into “Sorry, I did not buy the wanton noodles that you wanted”. I would say 對唔住 represents a more serious manner of apology. If the situation is not too serious, you can use 冇意思 to express your apology. For example, 冇意思, 我冇Facebook. By saying 冇意思, you convey a sense of embarrassment or shyness too. Or if you want to admit that you are wrong, you can say 冇意思, 我搞錯咗.

Typically, I would use 冇意思 together with 唔該, especially when I am asking for directions. For example, 冇意思, 唔該, 請問你, MRT點行? You’ll find that in such context, 冇意思 serves as a polite prelude to 唔該 which means “Excuse me”.

Once again, apologies can be expressed by Cantonese people via:
對唔住; and
冇意思.

Hope you find the varying degrees of apologizing in Cantonese useful. Feel free to share with us your thoughts by leaving us a comment. I’m Eugene from LearnDialect.sg. See you the next week!


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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.