In Cantonese, it's common to hear someone say 令 when referring to making something happen.

Example: 妳咁做令我開心 (You make me happy when you do this.)

Some friends claimed Mandarin doesn't use 令 this way and uses 讓 instead, making the equivalent sentence 妳這樣做讓我開心。

However, Pleco lists 令人難忘 as "creating an unforgettable impression." This suggests 令 can be used like this in Mandarin.

1) Is the use of 令 different in Canto vs Mandarin? Is 妳這樣做令我開心 not proper Mandarin grammar?

2) If there is a difference, when do you use 令 and when do you use 讓?

  • it's also correct to say: 妳這樣做令我開心 in mandarin. its pretty much the same as 让 in this case.
    – dan
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 23:13

2 Answers 2


For the meaning of 'to make/ to cause', the usage of 令 in colloquial Cantonese cover the usage of 令(force/make), 使(cause/make) and 讓(allow/make) in Mandarin


令人唔開心 (Cantonese) = 令人不高興/ 使人不高興/ 讓人不高興 (Mandarin)

The difference between 令 使 and 讓 is in 'degree of emphasis'; colloquial Cantonese typically use final particles for emphasis

In literal Cantonese (SWC- Standard written Chinese) It is the same as Mandarin


令人不高興/ 使人不高興/ 讓人不高興 (Mandarin) = 令人不高興/ 使人不高興/ 讓人不高興 (SWC)

Cantonese do not use 讓 (make/ cause) colloquially at all. However, there's a word we use in colloquial Cantonese for 'make/ cause' that is not used by Mandarin. This word is '等', but it has to be used with a 'cause'


"(等)佢熟透" = "(wait) for it to be cooked completely"

"加猛火(等)佢快啲熟透" = "use high heat (to make) it cooked completely faster"

In Mandarin, it would be "加猛火(讓)它快點熟透"

One more note: Cantonese do use the compound words 使到 and 令到 colloquially. The same as Mandarin


1) Is the use of 令 different in Canto vs Mandarin?

Firstly the word 令 has multiple meanings. I believe the usage are same for Canto vs Mandarin as long as you're referring to the same meaning of the word.

Is 妳這樣做令我開心 not proper Mandarin grammar?

Instead of improper grammar, it's more of unpopular usage, like usually 讓 is used.

2) If there is a difference, when do you use 令 and when do you use 讓?

For Canto it's pretty much the same, 讓 is usually used for formal written (novel / books) while 令 for oral / casual writing. Again it does not apply to 令's other meanings.

Worth to mention that for idiom, the words are not interchangeable.

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