Guide on How to Say “Dollar” in Cantonese: Formal and Informal Ways

If you’re traveling to Hong Kong, Guangzhou, or any other Cantonese-speaking region, it’s handy to know how to say “dollar” in the local dialect. Cantonese, a variant of Chinese, is widely spoken in southern China and parts of Southeast Asia. In this guide, we’ll explore both formal and informal ways to say “dollar” in Cantonese, and provide you with helpful tips and examples to ensure you’re well-prepared during your interactions.

Formal Ways to Say “Dollar” in Cantonese

1. 蚊 (man4) – This is the formal term for “dollar” in Cantonese. It is derived from the first character of the transliteration of “dollar” as “dollar” sounds similar to the Cantonese word for mosquito. This term is commonly used in formal settings, such as financial transactions or official documents.

Example: 今日換咗一百蚊 (gam1 jat6 wun6 zo2 jat1 baak3 man4) – Today, I exchanged one hundred dollars.

Informal Ways to Say “Dollar” in Cantonese

1. 蚊 (man4) – As mentioned above, 蚊 (man4) can also be used as an informal term. While it is derived from the formal term, it is widely accepted and commonly used in everyday conversations in Cantonese-speaking regions.

Example: 十蚊俾你,得唔得? (sap6 man4 bei2 nei5, dak1 m4 dak1?) – Can you give me ten dollars?

2. 大洋 (daai6 joeng4) – Another informal way to say “dollar” in Cantonese is 大洋 (daai6 joeng4). It originated from the term “Mexican silver dollar” and gradually evolved to be used to refer to any type of dollar.

Example: 買呢件嘢要幾多大洋? (maai5 ni1 gin6 je5 jiu3 gei2 do1 daai6 joeng4?) – How much does this item cost in dollars?

Regional Variations

While the formal and informal ways described above are commonly understood in most Cantonese-speaking regions, there can be minor regional variations.

In Hong Kong, the term “蚊 (man4)” is the standard way to say “dollar” in Cantonese. It is universally recognized and used in both formal and informal settings.

In Guangzhou, on the other hand, you may come across the term “鈆 (jen1)” being used to refer to “dollar.” It’s essential to note that this variation is not as widely understood or used outside of Guangzhou, so it’s generally safer to stick with “蚊 (man4)” in formal or unfamiliar situations.

Tips for Learning Cantonese Vocabulary

1. Practice Pronunciation: Cantonese has unique sounds and tones that may be challenging for beginners. Listen to native speakers, repeat words and phrases, and pay attention to the tones to improve your pronunciation.

2. Use Flashcards: Create flashcards with Cantonese words and phrases, including “dollar.” Write the Cantonese term on one side and the English translation on the other. Practice regularly to reinforce your memory.

3. Immerse Yourself: Surround yourself with Cantonese materials, such as movies, music, or language apps. By immersing yourself in the language, you’ll gradually become more familiar with its vocabulary and usage.

Tip: Cantonese is a tonal language, so the tone used when pronouncing words can change their meaning. Be mindful of the correct tone when saying “dollar” in Cantonese, as using the wrong tone may lead to miscommunication.


Now you’re equipped with both formal and informal ways to say “dollar” in Cantonese. Remember to use “蚊 (man4)” as the general term, as it is widely recognized and accepted in formal and informal contexts. Additionally, in specific regions like Guangzhou, you may encounter “鈆 (jen1)” being used instead.

Practice speaking and listening to Cantonese regularly to improve your pronunciation and overall language skills. Enjoy your interactions while using these terms, and always keep a respectful and warm tone when conversing with locals.

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