The art of conversation creates the need for making frequently expressed sayings simple and direct. This lesson focuses on a number of Cantonese phrases that are used virtually every day and in many different contexts. It's important to not only learn the phrase and its meaning, but also in what contexts they are commonly used.
Have you eaten || Greetings
|| Thanks || Farewell ||
Apology/Excuse || Congratulations || Interjections
One of the most common phrases in polite conversation in Chinese is to ask if the person you are speaking to has eaten or not. This does not imply that you have any intention of dining with them, it is the concept of "how are you doing" applied to food.
|Have you eaten (rice) yet?|
|(I) have eaten.|
This pleasantry shows off the Cantonese grammar principle of choice-type questions. The question includes the expected answers: "I have" (yes) and "Not yet" (no). Occasionally a person replies with more information, such as that they have eaten an earlier meal but not the upcoming meal.
Note that here the term faahn "rice" 飯 is used to mean any meal, not just rice. On rare occasions a person may respond that they have not eaten rice, but something else (normally mihn "noodles" 麵).
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