Now we know how to tell apart a man, woman, girl and boy. What if we need to talk to them face to face?
There are several ways you can address people before talking to them.
Kids (any number of them)
小 朋 友 siu2 pang4 yau2
Any woman, don’t know her name
小 姐 siu2 ze2
Any man, don’t know his name
先 生 sin1 saang1
Know her name; to show courtesy (acquaintance, female)
陳 小 姐 can4 siu2 ze2 Ms. Chan
where “陳” is the surname of the person. There are others like 張, 黃, 李, 趙 etc.
Know his name; to show courtesy (acquaintance, male)
張 生 zoeng1 saang1 Mr. Cheung
Below are ways to greet a random old person. This way you show care and respect. (as you normally should in Chinese culture!)
If you are not sure, old people actually appreciate you calling them 先生 / 小姐 (this way it feels much younger 😎)
婆 婆 po4 po2
伯 伯 baak3 baak3
先 生， 你 叫 咩 名？ sin1 saang1 nei5 giu5 me1 meng2 Mister, you called what name? (^literal) Mister, what is your name?
Saying thank you:
唔 該 哂 呀 陳 小 姐 m4 goi1 saai3 aa can4 siu2 ze2 Thank you, Ms. Chan!
We say 小朋友 to young little kids you don’t know;
We greet strangers by saying 先生 / 小姐;
We hail people we know saying their surname + 先生 / 小姐;
We address our old with 婆婆 / 伯伯.