Hokkien: How Do You Say “Work” or “Job”

by | Jan 23, 2019 | Hokkien, Hokkien - How Do You Say

Listen to Podcast | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Work” or “Job”

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New Words

EnglishHokkien Our Romanization
What is your work/job?你做什么工的?Li zoh sih mih gang eh?
Worked for how many years?做几年了?Zoh gui ni liao?
What did you learn?你学着什么?Li oh dio sih mih?

Podcast Transcript | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Work” or “Job”

Over the course of a lifetime, an average person would go to work for about 40 years. That is, a person starts working from a tender age of early twenties until retirement. In the case of Singapore, current minimum retirement age is 62 years old and there seems to be talks of extending working life even further. “Work” or 工 in Hokkien, it seems, is an integral part of most people’s life. Hello and welcome to Hokkien – How Do You Say Podcast on My name is Eugene and today, let’s explore some phrases that you can use in Hokkien to start a conversation about working life.


If you want to ask for a person’s occupation, this is one casual way of asking in Hokkien. With this simple question, it opens a window of opportunity for you to find out about the colourful working life of a person.

To further the conversation, I typically would also ask, 做几年了? as well as 你学着什么?

The first follow up question – 做几年了? – means “how many years have you been working at the job?”. A literal translation in English would be “do how many years already?”

More than often, the 2nd common follow up question is 你学着什么? Over here, 学 means to “learn” and this question probes deeper by asking what one has learnt. An open-ended question, it typically gets a person talking about the many skillsets and experience that he or she has acquired over the years.

So to all our listeners, 你做什么工的? 做几年了? 你学着什么? Now what you can do is to drop us a reply to these questions, so that we can understand you better and make our podcasts more relevant to you.

Alright, it’s time for a little test for you to practise what you have learnt so far with us. How do you say the following in Hokkien?

“How are you? My name is Eugene. Please, may I ask what is your job? How many years have you been working at the job? What did you learn? Can you teach me please? Thank you and nice to meet you. I’ll make a move first!”

Pause the audio and give it a try. I’ll repeat one more time.

“How are you, my name is Eugene. Please, may I ask what is your job? How many years have you been working at the job? What did you learn? Can you teach me please? Thank you and nice to meet you. I’ll make a move first!”

Go on, pause the audio until you are ready to check the answer.

Here’s the answer:

你好, 我的名是Eugene. 请问你, 你做什么工的? 做几年了? 你学着什么? 你可以教我吗? 感谢你. 真欢喜见着你. 我先走了!

Did you get it right? If you have diligently followed our podcasts, by now, you should be able to move beyond single words and string sentences together. I think that’s pretty awesome progress, isn’t it?

感谢你 for listening in to Hokkien – How Do You Say Podcast on Once again, if you have specific phrases that you’ll like to learn, please leave us a comment on our Facebook page. We want to know how we can help you! 再见!

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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