10 Helpful Local Phrases You Can Use In Macao


By Eva Pavithran

Here’s a pick of a few Cantonese and Portuguese expressions that will help you get around the Peninsula.

Though you can easily get by with English in Macao, it always helps to know a few simple phrases that will make you feel like a local. Besides, if you’re going to be using cabs to get around, Cantonese will help (though Portuguese is a bit easier on the tongue) as most cabbies don’t speak English. It’s a great idea to have a translator app on your smartphone just in case.

1.    Hello: Is always a nice way to start a conversation in any language, isn’t it?

Néih hóu
Portuguese: Olá

2.    Thank you and sorry: Always helps to be courteous no matter where you are.

Cantonese: Dòjeh  (for a gift), m̀hgòi (for a service)
Portuguese: Obrigado (male) and obrigada (female)


3.    Do you speak English?: Just in case, if the virtual help isn’t available or the translation app isn’t working.

Cantonese: Neih sīkm̀hsīk góng yìngmán a?
Portuguese: Fala inglês?

4.    Please write it down: Especially handy when using cabs. Get someone to write down the destination in Cantonese for you to show it to the taxi drivers.

Cantonese: M̀hgòi néih sédài a?
Portuguese: Pode escrever isso para mim, por favor? (informal)

5.    Excuse me: Again, a polite way to get help or attention.

Cantonese: Chéngmahn (to get attention), mhgòi (to get past someone)
Com licença

6.    How much is this?: For those looking to shop bargains like a local.

Cantonese:  Nīgo géidō chín a?
Portuguese: Quanto custa?

7.    Where’s the bathroom? Well, you got to go when you got to go, so language shouldn’t be a hindrance!

Cantonese: Chisó hái bīndouh a?
Onde é a casa de banho?

8.    Help: Doesn’t hurt to know this one.

Cantonese: Gau mehng a!
Portuguese: Sucorro!

 9.    I’m lost: It’s easy to be engrossed in the sights and sounds of Macao. These help just in case you get carried away with your surroundings and don’t know where you are.

Cantonese: Wǒ mílùle
Portuguese: Estou perdio (male), Estou perdia (female)

10.  Call the police: Macao is a safe city, but it’s always better to be armed with some extra language skills.

Cantonese: Gau mehng a!
Portuguese: Chame a policia por favour



 You can also check out these Top 5 Best Translator Apps

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