It’s been a while since I wrote Lesson Three of my Singlish Primer. Well, inspiration is not something you can force, and I do need it to generate WittyCulus ideas. I’m not going to let quality slip here, not on Quite simply, no way!

It’s not that I’ve dried up up (not a typo here, ha ha) there. Rather, thinking of something interesting to open Lesson Four is taking much longer. I know it’s late already, how? Still, I did write something clever on Facebook (by my standards, lah! There are some oops moments which I’ve just discovered, though…) two days ago — read this food blog article and see if you get it too 😉

Singlish — Lesson Four

Did you catch the hint I dropped near the end of Lesson Three, which discussed the Singlish word “then”? I had mentioned “already in the works”, meaning that the next word I was (already) working on is “already”. Gotcha!


“Already” is mostly influenced by the Chinese word . Like in English, this word is used to signify that something has occurred prior to a specified or implied time. But it does have its fun side in Singlish. Also, since this Chinese character can be pronounced as “liao3”, this gives rise to the Singlish word “liao”, which is “already” in a different flavour.

Sometimes, “already” is also used in phrases where 已经 is present in Chinese. Usually, this will place the word nearer the beginning of the spoken line. The examples below should clarify.

  • 吗?
  • You
  • eat
  • already?   
  • 箱子
  • 不见了!
  • 想是
  • That
  • box
  • is missing!   
  • I
  • think
  • he
  • take
  • go
  • already.   
  • 不要再
  • 好不好?
  • Donch*
  • say
  • her
  • already,   
  • can?   
  • * “Donch” is how some Singaporeans would pronounce “don’t”. Try saying it — it’s fun and uniquely Singlish 😉
  • 已经
  • 做完
  • 功课,
  • 所以
  • 现在
  • 可以
  • 玩吗?
  • I
  • already
  • finish
  • homework,   
  • so
  • now
  • can
  • play?   
  • 出去
  • 等一下
  • 我叫她
  • 打电话给你,
  • 好吗?
  • She
  • go out
  • already,   
  • later
  • I ask her
  • (to) call you,   
  • can?   
  • Alternatively, the following will do too. Note the word order swap vis-a-vis it’s Singlish counterpart.
  • 已经
  • 出去,
  • 等一下
  • 我叫她
  • 打电话给你,
  • 好吗?

Speak Good English

As mentioned in my article which shows support for the “Speak Good English Movement”, the title of this section has been changed from “Back to English”. So have the labels in the info boxes below — gone are the “Singlish:” and “English:” tags, in favour of “Don’t say this:” and “Say this instead:”.

Now, switch your mind back to serious English.

Don’t say this: You eat already?
Say this instead: Have you eaten?

Don’t say this: That box is missing! I think he take go already.
Say this instead: That box is missing! I think he took it.

Don’t say this: Donch say her already, can?
Say this instead: Will you stop bothering her?

Don’t say this: I already finish homework, so now can play?
Say this instead: Can I play now, since I’ve finished homework?

Don’t say this: She go out already, later I ask her (to) call you, can?
Say this instead: She is out. Can I get her to return your call later?

You’re Already In Knee-Deep, You Say?

Wow, there’s really nothing like getting your feet wet. Good to hear you are earnest in your learning. Though it’s just four simple words to date, there’s much you can do with them. For a start, it’d be more easy (sic) to tune into Singaporean-speak and not feel so left out. Just like learning any other foreign language, chatting with locals will certainly help.

Singlish is about thinking in Chinese and speaking in English. I believe Chinese nationals and those well-versed in Mandarin would assimilate quite easily. Nevertheless, everyone can learn about it here on, at their own pace. Must try then you know 🙂

To recap, this is what I’ve already covered in previous lessons:

Lesson Five should be just around the corner. I reckon you needn’t wait too long.

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