In Cantonese, one of the ways 返 is used is to express "return" or "back". What word in Mandarin is the best equivalent to it? Would it be 回?

Here are the examples - not sure if the translation is correct.

Ex. 我要還返本書俾佢 -> 我要还回本书给他 (I need to return a book to him)

Ex. 走之前記住攞返鎖匙 -> 走之前记住拿回钥匙 (before you leave, remember to get your keys)

Thanks for any help.

  • Perhaps it's also better to provide English versions for the examples? Just so that a non-Cantonese speaker can also answer the question. Oct 11, 2016 at 1:29

1 Answer 1


As a verb particle, the Mandarin equivalent of 返 in Cantonese is indeed 回

你一啲好處(C) = 給你一點好處 (M) = give you back some benefit


  • First, the term 還返 is uniquely Cantonese, "我要還返本書俾佢" in Mandarin would just be "我要还本书给他".

  • Second, 本 is a classifier without determiner or count word, it is normal in Cantonese, but in Mandarin, you should not omit the determiner or count word; you should write "我要还(這)本书给他" or "我要还(一)本书给他"

  • Finally, you can omit the classifier along with the determiner and write "我要還書俾佢" / "我要还书给他

  • Thanks for your response. Just wondering though, is 回 used after the verb? Like for my first example, is "我要还回本书给他" correct or should it be "我要回还本书给他”?
    – Sneakymist
    Oct 11, 2016 at 2:35
  • 2
    In this case, the 回 would not be needed, as idiomatic Mandarin requires just 还. The Cantonese verb 還返 just becomes the one verb 還/还 in Mandarin.
    – Michaelyus
    Oct 11, 2016 at 10:33

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