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Learning Singlish ~ Your Travel Guide to Singapore

Updated on May 2, 2014

As a tourist traveling to Singapore, you might encounter an interesting language – Singlish and be puzzled by it. As such, be sure to get a bit of understanding to this unique language before travelling there.

Development of Singlish

Singapore is a multi-racial society making up of different races- Chinese, Malay , Indian Etc. Due to this, we are expose to multiple languages. And as time passed, all the language get mixed around and developed into Singlish. Singlish consists of words originating mostly from English, Malay, Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Tamil.


Singlish involved a bundle of auxiliary notes making up of appoggiatura and acciaccatura. This intonation basically provides the user with a mean to display either his or her amount of pleasantness or annoyances. Beside the intonation, ending consonants (-t,-ed,-sh) is usually ignored, eg “want” is read as “wan”.

Grammatical Structure

The structure of Singlish as compare to English is that apostrophes and collective nouns should not be used in the sentence. And in the sentence, all words are in plural form without the “S”. Lastly, there is only one form of tenses in Singlish which is present tense.

“I would like to go to school” is been converse in Singlish as “I like go school”


The language is a mixture of various languages therefore the vocabulary can be found in all the languages like English, Malay, Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Tamil.

Beside the standard words from the different words, there are some words that are invented by Singaporean. Let us look at 5 most common Singaporean words.

Lah – This is used at the end of the sentence to state an opinion. “I think the cat will go away lah”

Siah – This is used at the end of the sentence to show unpleasantness or annoyances. “You good siah”

Sian – This is used to show boredom or urge not to do something. “Sian, I don’t want to go to school”

Walao – This is used in replacement of Damn. “Walao, why you do this to me”

Ah – This is used for intimidation or basically means “aren’t you”. “You are fat Ah”


Now let us look at a basic conversation involving you who is trying to buy a bowl of chicken rice from a local hawker centre stall.

You: Hi, uncle. I would like to have a bowl of chicken rice.
You : Uncle. I want chicken rice.
Uncle : Ok, please wait a while for me to prepare it for you.
Uncle : Ok, wait wait
Uncle: Hi, this is your chicken rice.
Uncle: Your Chicken rice.
You: How much is it ?
You: How much?
Uncle: This will cost you S$2.5.
Uncle: S$2.5


With all this in mind, you should be able to form your own Singlish sentences. And if you are travelling to Singapore, you will not be surprise when you are exposed to Singlish. And be sure to learn abit of all the languages vocabulary.

How to speak Singlish


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    • AlvinTay profile imageAUTHOR

      Alvin Tay Kong Wei 

      4 years ago from Singapore

      Haha Thanks. Edited

    • profile image

      Botak Shins 

      4 years ago

      My Sing friend, you should spend a little time on getting your English up to standard.

      Please look up the difference between "I will like" vs "I would like" :


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