Cantonese: in his early / mid / late 20s


New Member
In Cantonese conversationally, how would I say "he's in his early 20s"? or mid 20s? or late 20s?

Similarly, how would I say "early January", "mid January" and late January"? (hope it's the same as for age)
  • Ghabi

    Senior Member
    hope it's the same as for age
    Not exactly. For one's age:

    Early 20s: 二十出頭

    Mid 20s: We don't seem to say that (at least I don’t), perhaps you can just say 廿五六左右

    Late 20s: 廿到man3

    man3 (a bit like "too close to the edge", "with too little elbow room" etc) is a special word in Cantonese (it doesn't seem to have cognates in Mandarin or Classical Chinese), and there's not a commonly used character for it. It's used like:

    Context: you have an important appointment, and your mum says that you'd better leave home early (lest there be traffic jams etc):

    "Don't cut it too fine"

    Context: your boss asks if you can finish the report by Friday and you're like:

    "A bit tight but doable"

    *Also note that we use two different words for 20 (monosyllabic 廿 jaa6 vs dysyllabic 二十 ji6sap6), depending on the rhythm of the phrase.

    For months:

    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    Yeah, you may say 廿零(leng4)歲 or even 廿leng1歲, the latter having a connotation of contempt, for example:

    "A kid in his early 20s like YOU is talking about these things!?!"

    Perhaps this usage is influenced by the word 0靚仔 leng1zai2 "kid; young fellow"? We only say 十leng1歲 and 廿leng1歲; 三十leng1歲 would sound wrong.

    *In this type of expression 30,40, 50 ... etc have special pronunciations (not obligatory, but very common):

    三十 saa1aa6, thus 三十零歲 saa1aa6leng4seoi3
    四十 sei3aa6, thus 四十零歲 sei3aa6leng4seoi3
    五十 m5aa6, thus 五十零歲 m5aa6leng4seoi3


    Senior Member
    English, 中文

    I came across this a while ago. Unfortunately, I haven't had any luck finding it again since.


    New Member
    廿零歲 already means "in his early 20s", so adding 頭 would be redundant.

    零 has the sense of "and a few more", for example,

    幾多人嚟咗呀 "How many people have come?"
    十零個啦 "A dozen or so" [like 11-14]

    If I wanted to say "aged upper 20s", is it OK to say 廿七零歲? Or is it weird since 27 seems like such a specific number?