Bite 15 - Transportation (2)

September 18, 2021


We can 搭, 上 and 落 transports. What about the transports themselves? What is the one you use the most in your daily life? The bus? Your car? Or is it the train? Let’s find out what these are in Cantonese.

Hired ground transports

巴   士
baa1 si6


It was also in Bite 14 - Transportation.

的   士
dik1 si6

Taxi / Cab

As with 巴士, this is also an English loan word!

火    車
fo2   ce1
fire  car


“Fire car” was a literal translation. The name came from the earliest fire-powerd trains. Now it means all above-ground railways.

kcr 1947

Fire-powered train, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, 1947 (Public Domain)

DIY transports

Not completely, but there is much more autonomy here.

私   家   車
ci1 gaa1 ce1
Private  car

Car (what we usually drive)

「私家」 because it is too ambiguous to just say 「車」 as it can mean all cars. 私家車 = Privately-owned cars = the cars you and I own.

And how do we say “drive a car”?

揸     車
za1   ce1
drive car

Drive a car

What if we chose to pedal our way through?

單     車
daan1 ce1


踩       單    車
caai2    daan1 ce1
step on  bicycle

Ride a bicycle

How about the powered 2-wheels?

電       單    車
din6     daan1 ce1
electric bicycle


The first motorcycles were not “electric” per se, but the motor was and has always been. So here we are, 電單車.

And we’re back to “揸” for 電單車. Try saying out loud “driving a motorcycle” in Cantonese out loud before revealing the answer!

Click to show answer(hide)
揸    電        單    車
zaa1  din6     daan1 ce1
drive electric bicycle

Drive a motorcycle

A funny slang

Let’s top things off with a mildly amusing slang in Hong Kong:

11     號 巴    士
eleven-th baa1 si6

Route 11 bus

You would think “route 11” was a certain bus route. Yes, it can be, but it also means walking. Look at this photo:

route 11

Author’s fingers doing their legs imitation

2 legs are like the number “11”. So when someone says 「搭11號巴士」, it might mean “walking”.


We hope you enjoyed this Bite! Key takeaways:

  1. 巴士 (bus), 的士 (taxi), 電車 (tram)
  2. 私家車 (cars), 單車 (bicycles), 電單車 (motor bikes)
  3. 私家車 (driving cars), 單車 (riding a bike), 電單車 (driving a bike)


How do you say “take a taxi”? (Hint: bite 14!)

Click to show answer(hide)
搭   的   士
daa6 dik1 si6

Take a taxi

So to compare:

  1. - taking a ride
  2. - driving
  3. - pedaling (almost always a bicycle)

Written by horse_mama#3788, HongKonger
Edited by hulloanson#2533, HongKonger
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