Listen to Podcast | Cantonese: How Do You Say “Work” or “Job”

New Words   
Work/Job – 工 – gong 
What is your work/job? – 你係做咩工嘅(你是做什么工的)? – lei hai zoh meh gong geh 
Worked for how many years? – 做咗幾年(做了几年)? – zoh zor geh nin 
What did you learn? – 你學咗乜嘢(你学到了什么)? – lei hok zor mat yeh 


Podcast Transcript | Cantonese: How Do You Say “Work” or “Job”

Over the course of a lifetime, an average person would go to work for about 40 years. That is, a person starts working from a tender age of early twenties until retirement. In the case of Singapore, current minimum retirement age is 62 years old and there seems to be talks of extending working life even further. “Work” or “工” in Cantonese, it seems, is an integral part of most people’s life.  Hello and welcome to our Cantonese – How Do You Say Podcast on LearnDialect.sg. My name is Eugene and today, let’s explore some phrases that you can use in Cantonese to start a conversation about working life. 

“你係做咩工嘅?” 

If you want to ask for a person’s occupation, this is one casual way of asking in Cantonese. With this simple question, it opens a window of opportunity for you to find out about the colourful working life of a person. 

To further the conversation, I typically would also ask, “做咗幾年?” as well as “你學咗乜嘢?”. 

The first follow up question, “做咗幾年?” means “how many years have you been working at the job?”. A literal translation in English would be “do how many years already?”.

The 2nd follow up question I usually ask is, “你學咗乜嘢?”. Over here, “學” means “to learn” and this question probes deeper by asking what one has learnt. An open-ended question, it typically gets a person talking about the many skill sets and experiences that he or she has acquired over the years.  

So to all our listeners, 你係做咩工嘅?做咗幾年?你學咗乜嘢? Now what you can do is to drop us a reply to these questions, so that we can understand you better and make our podcasts more relevant to you. Be rather mindful of the tone you use as these phrases can sound rather rude and abrupt if your tone is hurried, for example, 你係做咩工嘅?做咗幾年?你學咗乜嘢? 

Alright, it’s time for a little test for you to practise what you have learnt so far with us. How do you say the following in Cantonese? 

How are you? My name is Eugene. Please, may I ask what is your job? How many years have you been working at the job? What did you learn? Can you teach me please? Thank you and nice to meet you. I’ll make a move first!” 

Pause the audio and give it a try. I’ll repeat one more time. 

“How are you? My name is Eugene. Please, may I ask what is your job? How many years have you been working at the job? What did you learn? Can you teach me please? Thank you and nice to meet you. I’ll make a move first!” 

Go on, pause the audio until you are ready to check the answer.  

Here’s the answer: 

你好, 我係Eugene. 唔該, 请问你, 你係做咩工嘅?做咗幾年?你學咗乜嘢? 你可不可以教我?唔該你.好開心見到你.我走先喇! 

Did you get it right? If you have diligently followed our podcasts, by now, you should be able to move beyond single words and string sentences together. I think that’s pretty awesome progress, isn’t it? 

唔該你 for listening in to How Do You Say on LearnDialect.sg. Once again, if you have specific phrases that you’ll like to learn, please leave us a comment on our Facebook page (facebook.com/learndialect). We want to know how we can help you! 再見!  


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. JyutpingYale 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.