Jump to content
Learn Chinese in China

Is it possible to read cantonese by learning the Cantonese-only characters?


Recommended Posts

I can read mandarin fluently, and whenever I see some cantonese I always see a bunch of cantonese only characters like 唔, 係, 咗, 冇, etc. Is there a list of cantonese only characters? If I learn the mandarin equivalents of them, will I be able to understand written cantonese? I know there are lots of grammar differences, but would I be able to guess the general meaning? 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.


In some cases, yes. In others, no.


You can guess 打電話畀我 = 打电话给我 = 给我打电话


But can you get from 佢好肉酸 to 他很丑/恶心?


Basically you'll be out of luck with words that are simply different vocabulary, but learning the special characters will boost your comprehension quite a lot I would expect.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd think you'll still miss things, but it will boost understanding quite a bit. Some Cantonese-specific characters are very common ones.

Link to post
Share on other sites

@bryce1Sorry I don't remember. It's been a few years. Judging by the signature at the end though, it must be a long Weibo post by 廣州日報 (weibo.com/gzdaily).


Also useful for anyone learning Cantonese or simply trying to figure out a Cantonese word: http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/dictionary/

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...