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The Single Braid

Brace yourself up and learn Cantonese through Hong Kong’s urban legend.

How to say yes and no in Cantonese?

Do you know how to say yes and no in Cantonese?  Most of the books and website will teach you 係 [hai6] and 唔係 [m4 hai6] up front, but there is more than that you need to know.  Learn these two basic Cantonese words in this lesson and start answering questions accurately in Cantonese!

If you are reading this article, we guess you have just started to learn Cantonese.  If you are not yet familiar with Cantonese romanization, check out our complete Cantonese pronunciation guide with pronunciation graphics and audios now!

Yes in Cantonese: 係 [hai6]

Yes in Cantonese is 係 [hai6].  You can only use 係 [hai6] to say yes in Cantonese if the question itself used 係 [hai6] as its predicate(謂語).

係 [hai6] is a word with extremely high frequency, multiple part of speech and numerous usages in the grammar of Cantonese.  If you want to further dig into this word, check out our lesson on the grammar of 係 [hai6].

Question

nei5 hai6 m4 hai6 hoeng1 gong2 jan4 aa3?

你係唔係香港人啊?

Are you Hong Kongers?

Answer

ngo5 hai6 aa3。

我係啊。

Yes I am。

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicate
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateParticle
Part of speechNounExpressionParticle
Words in sentence

Particle(助詞) 啊 [aa3] is used for soften a sentence.  It always sounds much more natural to use a particle than omitting one in Cantonese.  To learn more about particle 啊 [aa3], please refer to Unit 12 Lesson 1.

No in Cantonese: 唔係 [m4 hai6]

No in Cantonese is 唔係 [m4 hai6].  You can only use 唔係 [m4 hai6] to say no in Cantonese if the question itself used 係 [hai6] as its predicate(謂語).

Question

nei5 hai6 m4 hai6 aa3 John aa3?

你係唔係阿John啊?

Are you John?

Answer

m4 hai6 aa3。

唔係啊。

No。

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicate
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateParticle
Part of speech/ExpressionParticle
Words in sentence/ 唔係

 

Question

nei5 hai6 m4 hai6 zung1 gwok3 jan4 aa3?

你係唔係中國人啊?

Are you John?

Answer

ngo5 m4 hai6 aa3。

我唔係啊。

No。

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicate
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateParticle
Part of speechNounExpressionParticle
Words in sentence 唔係

Yes and no in Cantonese when the question does not contain 係 [hai6]

If the question itself does not use 係 [hai6] as its predicate, you cannot use 係 [hai6] or 唔係 [m4 hai6] to answer it with yes or no in Cantonese.  You have to use the predicate of the question to answer it correctly.

Question

nei5 cam4 jat6 jau5 mou5 zou6 gung1 fo3 aa3?

你尋日有冇做功課啊?

Did you do your homework yesterday?

Answer

mou5 aa3

冇啊。

No I didn’t.

Type of sentence structurePredicate-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speech/Auxiliary verb/Particle
Words in sentence//

Question

nei5 soeng2 m4 soeng2 sik6 di1 daan6 gou1 aa3?

你想唔想食啲蛋糕啊?

Do you want eat some cakes?

Answer

soeng2 aa3。

想啊。

Yes, I want.

Type of sentence structurePredicate-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speech/Auxiliary verb/Particle
Words in sentence//

That’s it for this lesson on yes and no in Cantonese.  Don’t stop here and learn more basic Cantonese phrases.  Be sure to check out our Facebook page and our Twitter.

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