I am trying to learn Cantonese.

I want to be able to say (speak, not write) after a meal:

I am full.

Which I could translate directory to:

Ngo5 hai6 baau2

But, my local (student in HK) friend says this is incorrect and that the following is preferred:

Ngo5 hou2 baau2

Which I would read as

I very full

Sentences like this come up quite often, where sometimes I need to say the verb hai6, or sometimes a "degree" such as hou2 and additionally gei(unsure of tone or meaning) has been suggested.

What is the correct structure of a sentence where you want to tell somebody your current state of being?

  • 1
    You wouldn't use hai6 to tell people you are tired or hungry or thirty or full - you would use hai6 to tell people you are a doctor or a teacher or a principle or a big brother. hou2 while seemingly meaning very is often used with things like tired or hungry or thirty or full to make the sentence more natural and understandable - you shouldn't take it literally. Like your friend suggested Ngo5 hou2 baau2 just means I'm full.
    – Mou某
    Nov 8, 2017 at 8:39

1 Answer 1


ngo5 hai6 baau2

--> 我係飽 is "unnatural", hmmm, non-native way to express.

ngo5 hou2 baau2

--> 我好飽

native way to say it :)

just like the english "being", in other language, the verb changes:

i'm 70 years old

(being is used to describe age), which is translated to:

j'ai 70 ans

(avoir [to have], is used, not être [to be]; then, in cantonese, it should be:


technically, the verb is omitted

gei(unsure of tone or meaning)

it is 嘅(u+5605), roughly "my, his, her, their"; ask you friend how to pronounce it ;-)

last, i would suggest learning cantonese from dramas, videos, and news, forget grammar books.

have fun :)

  • Hmm I think I must have misheard/misremembered gei then, I thought it maybe "a little"? As in: I am a little hungry. Thanks for the response! Not sure if you happen to know Spanish or not, but it seems like hai6 vs hou2 is similar to ser vs estar?
    – Ell
    Nov 8, 2017 at 9:15
  • spanish? no lah :( "i am a little hungry" would be: 我有啲餓. 啲(u+5572) means "a little", pronounced similar to "d" in "a, b, c, d", according to english. humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/lexi-mf/search.php?word=啲 Nov 8, 2017 at 9:50

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