90 Singlish phrases to help you navigate everyday life in Singapore
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Planning to move to Singapore? Here are some quick Singlish phrases that you should know. Singlish is a unique form of English that is spoken in Singapore. It combines English with Malay, Chinese, and Tamil. Singlish is very different from traditional English, so it may take some time to get used to it.
However, Singlish is a very useful language to know if you want to live in Singapore. In this blog post, we will give you 90 Singlish phrases that will help you get by in everyday life!
Here are some quick Singlish phrases for you to pick up:
Food and Beverages
Heavy and overwhelming taste
Q / QQ
Chewy and springy
Pleasant, charred smokiness
Guaranteed delicious, for durians
Chao Cho / Qi
Takeaway your order
The art of ordering coffee and tea in Singapore
Evaporated milk and sugar
No milk with sugar
No milk no sugar
Kopi O Kosong
Teh O Kosong
Milo O Kosong
Kopi Siew Dai
Teh Siew Dai
Milo Siew Dai
No milk, less sugar
Kopi O Siew Dai
Teh O Siew Dai
Kopi Gah Dai
Teh Gah Dai
Milo Gah Dai
Strong (more powder)
Strong with sugar but no milk
Kopi O Gao
Milo O Gao
Extra strong caffeine
Kopi Di Lo
Kopi Gu You
Kopi Ga Kweh Nrng
With room temperature water
Kopi Pua Sio
Tarik (pulled) version
Pulled version (with condensed milk and sugar)
Kopi O Tarik
Teh O Tarik
Milo Dinosaur and Godzilla
Milo Dinosaur: Ice version with condensed milk and sugar and lots of milo powder on top
Milo Godzilla: Ice version with condensed milk and sugar PLUS a scoop of ice cream and lots of topping
To play the innocent card or act ignorant
An expression of surprise, and/or annoyance
Singlish equivalent of “oh my gosh” or “oh man”
To dump a task on someone else, rather than complete it yourself
To be posh or of high social status
Feeling bored or idle like there’s nothing better to do
A Malay word for ‘can’, or ‘possible’
Can or not
A way of asking if something is possible or can be achieved
Catch no ball
To be absolutely clueless
To rush, to hurry, or to give your all to complete something
To reserve a place or call dibs on something
Someone who doesn’t extend help. Instead, they stand around and stare as if their eyes can offer assistance
Chilling without a care in the world or loitering around aimlessly
Common Singaporean Phrases
Don’t spoil market
What you say when you want someone to maintain the status quo and not raise the bar, thus making it hard for you and others to compete
Confirm plus chop
Grab a coffee and hang out
Are there any opportunities
Die Die Must Try
Must Try no matter what
Don’t sabo me please
Don’t sabotage me
Blur like Sotong
Someone who is slow at catching on or just generally clueless
On the ball
Top at their job
Own time own target
Do things at your own pace
Why didn’t you invite me
Don’t kaypoh lah
Stop being such a busybody
A sarcastic way of saying you don’t say
Used to describe someone who does not care
Singlish term used to hurry people
Short form for cannot make it. Can be used to turn down someone or to describe a person as less than satisfactory (derogatory)
Don’t play play
Used to tell someone not to fool around or to take a matter seriously
Describes someone who likes to show off. Hao lian bo la liang, is a longer form of this phrase.
Lah, leh, lor, liao, hor, mah, meh, sia
Doesn’t it sound like a whole new language? It might seem extremely confusing when you first arrive in Singapore. But after a few weeks, you will realise that it’s not that complicated. In fact, it’s just a way of shortening most British English sentences with some punctured grammar.
It’s like a little abbreviation secret code, you know? And hey, it gets the point across, right? Sure, you might sound a bit silly using it at first, but after a while, you’ll start to enjoy it.
Adding “Lah” to any sentence just adds that extra oomph of confidence.
- Queen’s English: I’m sure the coffee will taste alright!
- Singlish: The kopi here okay one lah!
You’re not feeling too sure about this whole situation
- Queen’s English: I’m not too sure how to order a coffee in Singapore.
- Singlish: I not sure how to order kopi leh.
Accepting a situation that is not within your control.
- Queen’s English: The coffee is out of stock.
- Singlish: The kopi boh liao lor.
Usually, a question that requires agreement.
- Queen’s English: Are you sure you would like a cup of coffee and not tea?
- Singlish: You sure you want kopi hor?
Confident or referring to the obvious. Mildly attempting to persuade.
- Queen’s English: Would you like to try the coffee from this shop?
- Singlish: You want to try the kopi from this shop mah?
Use when in doubt about other things or people.
- Queen’s English: Are you sure they sell coffee?
- Singlish: They got sell kopi meh?
Use at the end of the sentence when one is genuinely surprised.
- Queen’s English: The coffee is really expensive.
- Singlish: The kopi sibeh expensive sia.
Moving to Singapore?
At this point, you’ve already brushed up on your Singlish! As an expat, after going through the process of relocating and adjusting to a new country like understanding Singlish, there might be one final challenge – how do you send money back home? Traditional banks can be costly, leaving you with fewer funds.
That’s where Instarem comes in.
With no hidden fees and competitive exchange rates, we make it easy to send money home.
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Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. All details are accurate at the time of publishing. Instarem has no affiliation or relationship with products or vendors mentioned.
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