The characters below belong only to Cantonese:

嚟, 咁, 哋, 畀, 佢, 唔, 睇 or 冇.

Is there a list on the web where I can find all these characters and their meaning?

  • 1
    the hong kong police force have a training material containing these special "cantonese characters" & their usages, an authoritative booklet. you need someone who is willing to take the risk, to get one :( Nov 8, 2017 at 16:05
  • thanks for the info @水巷孑蠻. Let's see if I know some law enforcement officer may be willing to help in exchange of a ... pint of beer :). Btw, what mean your SE's name?
    – Andy K
    Nov 8, 2017 at 16:21
  • 孑 is lonely, 蠻 is barbarian :) Nov 8, 2017 at 16:44

4 Answers 4


You can check out wikipedia's page for Written Cantonese which contains a lot of information like borrowed characters, marked phonetic loans and workarounds but the page I'm guessing you're looking, mostly, for is derived characters which contains things like:

冇 móuh (v. not have). Originally 無. Standard written Mandarin: 沒有

係 haih (v. be). Standard written Mandarin: 是

佢 kéuih (pron. he/she/it). Originally 渠. Standard written Mandarin: 他, 她, 它, 牠, 祂

乜 māt (pron. what) often followed by 嘢 to form 乜嘢. Originally 物也. Standard written Mandarin: 什麼

  • 1
    my first question on Chinese SE. Many thanks for your answer @user3306356
    – Andy K
    Nov 8, 2017 at 16:11
  • @AndyK welcome to the site!
    – Mou某
    Nov 8, 2017 at 16:12
  • cheers @user3306356
    – Andy K
    Nov 8, 2017 at 16:15

The national central library of Taiwan has the pdf of "廣東俗語考" by 孔仲南:


Then, the Hong Kong public library has the book "廣州語本字" by 詹憲慈:


A simpler one is 廣東俗語正字考 by 彭志銘.


This one is for laymen.


well, both "廣州語本字" & "廣東俗語考" are kinda "textual research", authors links the cantonese syllables to rare characters in literatures of yore.

the dilemma is: nowadays, cantonese speaking people don't use these rare characters, even there're supporting research findings. well, at least in hong kong, we create new characters to suit the need.

imo, unless you're in academic field, these two books are "very difficult".

here's a page of "廣州語本字", let you have an idea:

enter image description here

Have fun :)

  • hi @水巷孑蠻, what is this taiwanese book about? I'm not that fluent in 中文
    – Andy K
    Nov 9, 2017 at 6:40
  • @andy k, answer edited, have a look again :) Nov 9, 2017 at 7:35

You can look at this page 粵語本字表 on the Written Cantonese Wikipedia, which listed a number of characters that academics believe what those characters were originally like, and also how people commonly write them nowadays. Note that, people in Guangdong could write them differently.

  • hi @user930067, although I'm glad for your answer, I notice that you are not adding much to the previous answers. The aim of the site is to provide answers and give a bit of understanding (see User3306356's answer as an example)
    – Andy K
    Nov 10, 2017 at 6:28
  • edited a bit...
    – user930067
    Nov 10, 2017 at 7:54

嚟,To Come.



畀,Give or Confer something.


唔,Negation Marker Prefix.

睇,Look or Watch or Read(book) etc.


Your average Five Year Old in Hong Kong will tend to already know and understand the correct usage of these very commonly used Chinese Characters.

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