I've been trying to find out what is the polite way of telling someone that someone, specifically a relative, has passed away? I'm pretty sure it's not very nice to say someone died (死)。 Google translate suggests 他去世了。But is that right? Is it different for Cantonese?

  • To clarify, do you mean A is telling B that A's grandpa has died or A is telling B that B's grandpa has died? – jf328 Oct 17 '16 at 8:59
  • @jf328 I would actually be interested in both if there is a difference but for my example above I would be referring to the first example where A's grandpa has passed away. – aug Oct 17 '16 at 9:02
  • 1
    去世 is used commonly and is polite as well, other words in the answers are correct but I double that people actually use them in modern life. 走了 is used commonly as well but it is not very clear unless is given the person is old and/or sick, it also depends on the context. – EmmaXL Oct 18 '16 at 2:24
  • Yeah I think I've heard some people say 走了but that might be too vague for some people I am mentioning it to so I rather just be more direct about it haha. Thanks a lot for your comment @EmmaXL :) – aug Oct 18 '16 at 5:31
up vote 5 down vote accepted

The common polite terms for 「死了」(died):

  • 過身 (passed away)
  • 去世 (left this world)
  • 逝世 (departed from this world)
  • 仙逝 (departed to the spiritual world)
  • 走了 (had gone)

Example sentences:

  • 他過身了

  • 他已經去世了

  • 曹操在 220 AD 逝世

  • 我祖父早已仙逝

  • 我父母都走了

走咗(走了) is the most popular one among Cantonese speakers because of the vagueness ( as if the dead person was just gone for a trip)

What is the polite way to say a grandparent has passed away?

"祖父過身了"

could you provide the jyutping?

90% of the time Cantonese would use the two below:

我祖父過咗身 ngo5 zou2 fu6 gwo3 zo2 san1

我祖父走咗嘞 ngo5 zou2 fu6 zau2 zo2 lak6

  • Thank you! Actually if possible, could you provide the jyutping? Sorry I'm an ABC so its hard for me to find it unless I get my parents to read it to me haha. I can find pinyin pretty easily but not cantonese pronunciations – aug Oct 17 '16 at 22:03
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    I respect the fact that you use traditional Chinese and Cantonese, maybe it is worth to let the poster know? There are some grammar differences and I'm afraid beginner may not know the writing is in traditional Chinese, or it could take them a well to figure it out. – EmmaXL Oct 18 '16 at 2:27
  • I'm only talking about when the questions are asked in simplified Chinese. – EmmaXL Oct 18 '16 at 2:28

In addition to what Tang Ho says, you can use 没了.

没 is homophonic to 殁(die) in old Mandarin as well as many other Chinese languages.

去世,仙逝,作古,逝世,驾鹤西归,阴阳两隔,老了,走了,不在了,殒命,见阎王了,见马克思了

  • When questions are asked in English please use English structure to provide an answer – going Oct 23 '16 at 6:11

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