There are several ways of greeting people in Cantonese in casual situations, but here you will learn how to give a quick self introduction suitable for more formal occasions like a job interview or meeting the in-laws. Click here to get more Cantonese lessons!
你好 － Nei5 ho2 Falling/Rising Tone x 2
First, say the Cantonese word for hello. Like Mandarin, it also means “you good” or “you well”. You start with a deep rising tone for the first character and then a slightly higher rising tone for the second character.
我係 － Ngo5 hai6 Falling/Rising + Falling Tone
Then, say I am and then your name. The first character means “I” and then second character means “is/am”. The English equivalent would be “I am Natalie”.
Now that you know how to say your name. The next part will really impress your peers!
好高興 – Hou2 go1 hing3 Falling/rising + High tone + Middle tone
“好” means good/very, “高” means high and “興” means interest/eagerness. So, the english equivalent of “好高興” would be close to “it is of high interest” or “it is a great pleasure”.
認識你 – ying6 sik1 nei5 Falling + High Tone + Falling/Rising Tone
“認識” means “to be aquainted with” and “你” mean ‘you’. The whole phrase together “好高興認識你” in English means “It is a great pleasure to be aquainted with you” or in other words, “Pleased to meet you”. Not bad right?
Now, what do you say if you are greeting a group of people?
你哋 – Nei5 Dei6 Falling/Rising + Falling Tone
When you want to say “you” in the plural form you just stick a “哋” (sounds like “day”) at the end. Simple!
This last phrase is really polite and perfect for business situations or meeting important people. Using this would be a bit too formal for a casual setting but, to show even more respect you would normally greet the oldest person first and the youngest last if in a group setting.
Cantonese grammar is super similar to Mandarin Chinese so once you’ve mastered one of them, you have a pretty good chance of mastering the other twice as fast. Enjoy learning!