Hokkien: How Do You Say “Understand”

by | Apr 11, 2019 | Hokkien, Hokkien - How Do You Say

Listen to Podcast | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Understand”

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New Words

EnglishHokkienOur Romanization
Understand明白Meng pek
听有路Tia wu lor

Podcast Transcript | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Understand”

Hello everyone, welcome to our Hokkien – How Do You Say Podcast on Well, would you agree with me that during conversations, the last that we want is miscommunication? To minimize any misunderstandings, I think it’s great if we can make an effort to check if everyone is on the same page. Now what are some Hokkien phrases that we can use? My name is Eugene and in less than 5 minutes today, we will explore some ways to ask whether someone understands what is going on in a conversation.

First, you may want to ensure that the other party can hear you audibly, especially if your background is noisy. You’ll ask 你听有无? which means “Can you hear me?”

The response to this question is either 听有 (which means “I hear you”) or 听无 (which means “I can’t hear you”).

Now, during the conversation, if you want to ask “Do you understand?” in Hokkien, you’ll express it as – 你会明白无? If someone understands fully, then the response would be a simple 明白. If not, you’ll hear 未明白. Easy, right? Let’s carry on!

In Singapore, sometimes, you’ll find people asking, 你听有路无? This is a Singlish expression of “Do you understand?” and literally translates into “Are you hearing any roads?” Does this make any sense to you? Let me sort this out! Have you heard of this phrase, “all roads lead to Rome“? Roads lead us to somewhere, thus when someone asks, “你听有路无?”, it means “Are you making any headway in this conversation?” That’s a cool expression to learn, isn’t it? So, if you understand, you’ll say 听有路. If not, you can say 听无路. We did cover another Singlish expression to indicate a lack of understanding in Hokkien previously, do you remember what it is? As a hint, it has to do with catching a ball. Did you get it? Yes, it’s 掠无球!

To sum up, the Hokkien phrases today are:

你会明白无? and

I hope the above is useful for you to reduce any miscommunication in Hokkien. Once again, I’m Eugene from and if 你听无路, feel free to let us know any questions you may have and we will do our best to answer. See you the next week!

Love what you are reading? We’ve got lots more to share during our Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese express workshops. Join us to pick up words and phrases for everyday use in Singapore. More importantly, you can help to keep these languages alive!

Our Philosophy for Learning Hokkien in Singapore

The pronunciation of Hokkien words varies from one region to another. For example, Penang Hokkien sounds different from Taiwanese Hokkien. At, we want to make learning Hokkien fun, easy and practical for daily conversations in Singapore. As such, we think it is important to listen to how Singaporeans speak Hokkien. To do that, we have an ongoing process of collecting audio recordings from at least 100 Hokkien-speaking seniors in Singapore and thereafter based our audio pronunciation on the most commonly-heard version.

In similar nature, rather than trying to figure out which Hokkien romanization system to use (e.g. Pe̍h-ōe-jī or Taiwan Romanization System), we encourage you to form your own phonics, so that you make an association with these Hokkien words in the quickest way possible. To illustrate, the formal romanization of the English word, “eat”, is “chia̍h” in Hokkien. However, in our “Have You Eaten” podcast transcript, you’ll find that we use “jiak”, which we think relates to us better. That said, you may use other romanization (e.g “chiah”, “jia”, etc), as long as it helps you to make sense of what you hear.


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