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Characters for Yue and Wu


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I am interested in the characters used in Yue(Cantonese) and Wu(Shanghainese), but not used in Guan(Mandarin). How many are there? Are there special textbooks that lists these characters and their equivalents in Mandarin for Mandarin students of Yue and Wu?

Thanks in advance!

-Shibo :mrgreen:

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I don't know any reference of Cantonese (...) but just to add my two cents here, there're indeed not much "Cantonese Hanzi" (newly made), most are adapted to some commoner characters (渠 -> 佢: he or she), or just use latinized alphabet to represent them.

呢D嘢我都唔知啊! (D 也可以寫成「啲」)


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I don't really know of any Mandarin-to-Cantonese books but I there are a few English-to-Cantonese books that are decent. The Right World in Cantonese (《廣州話指南》) by Kwan Choi Wah (關彩華), ISBN 9620711963 is pretty good. There's also a really old book written back in 1914 by Roy T. Cowles - A Pocket Dictionary of Cantonese (《廣州話袖珍字典》), ISBN 9622091229. It's somewhat outdated and the romanization isn't perfect, but on the whole it's still useful.

Cantonese and Mandarin actually aren't too different as far as I can tell. Other than the pronounciation, the major difference is in the most common words. I've listed the ones that I can recall below. There are also some differences in grammar, but they're usually minor enough such that if you replace the Mandarin words with the Cantonese words, the sentence would still make sense. Also, there are sometimes differences in measure words.

Note: if I put an o in front of a character, it means it has 口字旁 since I couldn't find the actual character on the computer.

Question words:

What: 乜 (mat1) or 乜嘢 (mat1 ye5) = 甚麼/什么; 嘢 means thing (東西/东西), so 乜嘢 literally means "what thing?"

Which: 邊/边 (bin1) = 哪

Who: 邊個/边个 (bin1 go3) or 邊位/边位 (bin1 wai2) = 哪個/哪个 or 哪位 or 誰/谁

Where: 邊度/边度 (bin1 dou6) or 邊處/边处 (bin1 syu3) = 哪裡/哪里

How: 點/点 (dim2) or 點樣/点样 (dim2 yeung2) = 怎麼/怎么 or 怎麼樣/怎么样

Why: 點解/点解 (dim2 gaai2) or 做乜嘢 (jou6 mat1 ye5) = 為甚麼/为什么

When: 幾時/几时 (gei2 si4) = 甚麼時候/什么时候

How many/How much: 幾多/几多 (gei2 do1) = 多少

How long (in time): 幾耐/几耐 (gei2 noi2) = 多久


我 and 你 are still the same, but 佢 (keui5) is used instead of 他. 哋/地 (dei6) is used instead of 們/们. For possession, 嘅 (ge3) is used instead of 的.

This: 呢 (ni1) = 這/这

That: 嗰 (go2) = 那

Here: 呢度 (ni1 dou6) or 呢處/呢处 (ni1 syu3) = 這裡/这里

There: 嗰度 (go2 dou6) or 嗰處/嗰处 (go2 syu3) = 那裡/那里


To negate verbs, 唔 (m4) is used instead of 不.

To be: 係/系 (hai6) = 是

To not have: 冇 (mou5) = 沒有/没有

To be at: 喺 (hai2) = 在

To be from: 由 (yau4) = 從/从

To need: 要 (yiu3) = 得

To not need: 唔駛/唔使 (m4 sai2) = 不必

To find: 搵 (wan2) = 找

To look: 睇 (tai2) = 看

To come: 嚟 (lai4) = 來/来

To return: 返 (faan1) or 返嚟 (faan1 lai4) = 回 or 回來/回来

To know how to: 識/识 (sik1) = 會

To stand: 企 (kei2) = 站

To walk: 行 (haang4) = 走

To run: 走 (jau2) = 跑

To eat: 食 (sik6) = 喫/吃

To drink: 飲 (yam2) = 喝

To give: 俾 (bei2) = 給/给

To say (something): 話/话 (wa3) = 說/说

To tell (somebody): 話…聽/话…听 (wa3 ... teng1) or 話…知/话…知 (wa3 ... ji1) = 告訴…/告诉… (i.e. 我話你聽/我话你听 = 我告訴你/我告诉你)

To descend: 落 (lok6) = 下

To like: 中意 (jung1 yi3) = 喜歡/喜欢

To drive: 揸車/揸车 (ja1 che1) = 開車/开车

To wear: 著 (jeuk3) = 穿

To close: 閂/闩 (saan1) = 閉/闭

To take: 攞 (lo2) = 拿

To sleep: 瞓覺/瞓觉 (fan3 gaau3) = 睡覺/睡觉

To make a movement: 郁 (yuk1) = 動

To think: 諗/谂 or 惗 (nam2) = 想

To waste: 嘥 (saai1) = 浪費/浪费

Indicates inversion of verb and object: 將/将 (jeung1) = 把


Pretty: 靚/靓 (leng3) = 漂亮

Angry: 嬲 (nau1) = 惱怒/恼怒

Correct: 啱 (ngaam1) = 對/对

Tired: 癐 (gwui6) = 累

Crazy: 痴線/痴线 (chi1 sin3) = 瘋狂/疯狂

Depending on the context, Cantonese speakers will often use 細/细 (sai3) instead of 小.


Cantonese is famous for its plethora of particles. Here are a few of them:

嘞 (laak3) or 嚹 (la3) = 了 at the end of a sentence to indicate a change of situation.

唨/咗 (jo2) = 了 after a verb to indicate past tense.

緊/紧 (gan2) after a verb to indicate that the action is still going on; similar to putting 在 in front of a verb in Mandarin.

晒 (saai3) after a verb to indicate that the action was done to completion; also means "totally;" contrast with 完: 我做完嘞 (I finished) vs. 我做晒嘞 (I finished it completely).

埋 (maai4) after a verb to indicate that the action will be finishing.

吓 (ha5) after a verb to indicate "a little bit" (= 一下 or 一點/一点)

嗎 (ma3) and 呢 (ne1) are used just like in Mandarin.

呀 (a3) is usually placed at the end of questions that are of the form verb唔verb or questions with a question word (i.e. 你去唔去呀? or 你做乜嘢呀?).

吖 (a4) occurs at the end of a question that expects the listener to be in agreeement (i.e. 你係王先生吖?/你系王先生吖?).

啫 (je3 or jek3) at the end of a sentence gives the meaning of "only" or "that's all" (i.e. 我有一支筆啫/我有一支笔啫).

喇 (la3) is similar to the Mandarin 吧.

嘅 (ge3) indicates possession; at the end of a sentence it makes it more emphatic, like the Mandarin 的; use 嘅啦 (ge3 la3) to give stronger emphasis.

咩 (me3) at the end of a sentence indicates surprise or disbelief (i.e. 你去過中國咩?/你去過中国咩?).

囉/啰 (lo3) at the end of a sentence indicates an agreement with the previous speaker.

o播 (bo3) at the end of a sentence gives the sentence a feeling of "let me tell you" or "let me remind you."

添 (tim1) at the end of a sentence means also.

未 (mei6) occurs at the end of a question that asks whether an action has been done (i.e. 你出去未?).

Measure Words:

Generic collection: 啲 (di1) = 些

Dollar: 蚊 (man3) = 圓/元 or 塊/块

Tenth of a dollar: 毫 (hou4) = 毛

Cent: 仙 (sin1) = 分


Thing: 嘢 (ye5) = 東西/东西

Clothing: 衫 (saam1) = 衣服

Bottle: 樽 (jeun1) = 瓶

Boy: 仔 (jai2) = 男孩

Table: 檯/台 (toi2) = 桌子

Umbrella: 遮 (je1) = 傘/伞

Spoon: 匙羮 (chi4gang1) or 羮 (gang1) = 杓子

The following are obviously borrowed from English:

Ball: 波 (bo1) = 球

Taxi: 的士 (dik1 si2) = 出租車/出租车

Bus: 巴士 (ba1 si2) = 公共汽車/公共汽车

Some foods (mostly vegetables) also have different characters:

Corn: 粟米 (suk1 mai5) = 玉米

Potato: 薯仔 (syu4 jai2) = 士豆

Time Words:

Now/Currently: 而家 (yi4 ga1) = 現在/现在

Just now/Recently: 頭先/头先 (tau4 sin3) = 最近

At that time: 嗰陣時/嗰阵时 (go2 jan6 si4) = 那時候/那时候

Yesterday: 噖日/琴日 (kam4 yat5) or 噚日/寻日 (cham4 yat6) = 昨天

Today: 今日 (gam1 yat6) = 今天

Tomorrow: 聽日/听日 (ting1 yat6) = 明天

Last year: 舊年/旧年 (gau6 nin2 or gau6 nin4) = 去年

Next year: 出年 (cheut1 nin2 or cheut1 nin4) = 明年


Also: 都 (dou1) or 亦都 (yik6 dou1) = 也

And: 同 (tung4) or 同埋 (tung4 maai4) = 和

Or (as a question): 定係/定系 (ding6 hai6) or 抑或 (yik1 waak6) = 還是/还是

Only then: 先至 (sin1 ji3) = 才

But: 但係/但系 (daan6 hai6) = 但是

Don't: 唔好 (m4 hou2) = 不要 or 別

Don't ever/Never/By no means: 千祈唔好 (chin1 kei4 m4 hou2) = 千萬不/千万不 or 千萬別/千万别

This way/That way: 噉 (gam2) or 噉樣/噉样 (gam2 yeung2) = 這樣/这样 or 那樣/那样

So: 咁 (gam3) = 這麼/这么 or 那麼/那么

A bit: 一啲 (yat3 di1) = 一點/一点

Altogether/In total: 冚o棒唥 (ham6 ba6 laang6) = 一共

Still/Yet: 重 (jung6) = 還

Just: 啱 (ngaam1) = 剛

Sorry: 對唔住/对唔住 (deui3 m4 jyu6) = 對不起/对不起

Thanks: 唔該/唔该 (m4 goi1) or 多謝/多谢 (do1 je6) = 謝謝/谢谢; 唔該/唔该 is usually used for minor things people do for you, it can also mean "please (請/请)"; 多謝/多谢 is used for more heartfelt thanks or when someone gives something to you

Some grammar notes:

Comparisons: The "A adj 過/过 B" construction can be used in place of Mandarin's "A 比 B adj." For example: 佢高過我/佢高过我 instead of 他比我高.

Possession: Unlike Mandarin, the measure word can also be used to indicate possession. For example: 我本書/我本书 (which emphasizes the book) instead of 我嘅書/我嘅书 (which emphasizes the possession: MY book).

The verb to give: The position of the direct and indirect objects of the verb to give, 俾, is opposite from Mandarin's. For example: 我俾一支筆佢/我俾一支笔佢 instead of 我給他一支筆/我给他一支笔.

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Wow! Thank you so much! It's perfect! Did you typed all that by yourself?

Yep, I typed it out myself. BTW I made some changes and additions to what I wrote above so you may want to reread it.

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I found some articles that contain more about dialectical differences... pretty interesting:




Those links were linked from here, which contains even more stuff about dialects:


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  • 1 month later...

I purchased a Cantonese-Mandarin dictionary 15 years ago in HongKong. It is not really a dictionary. It is the book that has all phrases and terms and Words that are not common in both Cantonese and Mandarin. I keep the book at the bottom of my storage of books, for I do not have a chance to use it.

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