What did you do?

We learned present tense “what are you doing, eating, reading, etc..?”.  Now we will learn past tense “what did you do, eat, read, etc…?”  The difference is only one word.  Instead of doing (做緊 zou6 gan2), eating (食緊 sik6 gan2), reading/watching (睇緊 tai2 gan2), you just switch the word 緊 gan2 with 咗 zo2. 

  • What did you do? = 你做咗乜嘢 = nei5 zou6 zo2 mat1 je5?
  • What did you eat? = 你食咗乜嘢  = nei5 sik6 zo2 mat1 je5?
  • What did you read/watch? = 你睇咗乜嘢 = nei5 tai2 zo2 mat1 je5?

Make it fun:

You can ask your kids what they did today at school, what they ate for lunch, or what they watched on TV.  


What time is it?

Telling time is a great way to teach numbers.  Here’s the most basic way to tell time. 點 (dim2) means o’clock  and 分 (fan1) means minutes.  

  • What time is it right now? = 而家幾多點 = ji4 gaa1 gei2 do1 dim2
  • Right now, it is 8:24 = 而家八點二十四分 =  ji4 gaa1 baat3 dim2 ji6 sap6 sei3 fan1

Make it fun

Ask your kids what time it is throughout the day! 

What’s happening right now

It’s been raining for the past few days.  So I took the opportunity to teach my kids how to say right now (而家 = ji4 gaa1), will it? (會唔會 = wui2 m4 wui2), rain (落雨 = lok6 jyu5) and raining (落緊雨 = lok6 gan2 jyu5).  

The addition of 緊 = gan2 is like adding the ‘ing’ to the verb.  So if eat = 食 = sik6, then eating = 食緊 = sik6 gan2.  If drink = 飲 = jam2, then drinking = 飲緊 = jam2 gan2.  

  • Will it rain today? = 今日會唔會落雨 = gam1 jat6 wui2 m4 wui2 lok6 jyu5
  • Today will rain = 今日會落雨 = gam1 jat6 wui2 lok6 jyu5
  • It’s raining right now = 而家落緊雨 = ji4 gaa1 lok6 gan2 jyu5

Make it fun:

Throughout the day, ask your kids what they are eating, drinking, doing, reading, etc… right now to allow them to practise using the words 緊 = gan2 and right now = 而家 = ji4 gaa1.


  • What are you eating right now? = 你而家食緊乜嘢 = nei5 ji4 gaa1 sik6 gan2 mat1 je5
  • What are you drinking right now? = 你而家飲緊乜嘢 = nei5 ji4 gaa1 jam2 gan2 mat1 je5
  • What are you doing right now? = 你而家做緊乜嘢 = nei5 ji4 gaa1 zou6 gan2 mat1 je5
  • What are you reading/watching right now? = 你而家睇緊乜嘢 = nei5 ji4 gaa1 tai2 gan2 mat1 je5


  • I am eating pizza right now = 我而家食緊 pizza = ngo5 ji4 gaa1 sik6 gan2 pizza
  • I am drinking water right now = 我而家飲緊水 = ngo5 ji4 gaa1 jam2 gan2 seoi2
  • I am brushing my teeth right now = 我而家刷緊牙 = ngo5 ji4 gaa1 caat3 gan2 ngaa4
  • I am reading a book right now = 我而家睇緊書 = ngo5 ji4 gaa1 tai2 gan2 syu1


I discovered that these numbers represent the 6 different tones in  Cantonese.  If you can say these 6 numbers in Cantonese, you can learn to pronounce any Cantonese word properly with the jyutping system.
1 = 一 = jat1
9 = 九 = gau2
4 = 四 = sei3
0 = 零 = ling4
5 = 五 = ng5
2 = 二 = ji6

Make it fun:

Practise making these tones with any word and tell your kids what each word means.  My kids had a blast with the ‘syu’ sound.
書 = syu1 = book
鼠 = syu2 = mouse
薯 = syu4 = potato
樹 = syu6 = tree