“Ball” in Cantonese there are two characters to express:

  1. 波 [bo1] (which is from “ball”)
  2. 球 [kau4]

While 波 bo1 is a Cantonese charact that generally refers to balls, and used with action/verb

e.g.  Verb:

Daa2bo1 打波 – play ball games

tek3bo1 踢波 – play soccer

Tai2bo1  睇波 – watch ball games

Describe the football players’ skill:

Hou2bo1 好波 – good football skills

Si2bo1   屎波 – poor football skills

 

Some snacks name:

Zi1si2bo1 芝士波 – cheese ball

Except  Jyu4daan2 魚蛋 – fish ball

In Cantonese 球 kau4 is refer to ball game activities, such as:

Zuk1kau4 足球 football,

Laam4kau4 籃球 basketball

Sau2kau4  手球  handball

Jyu5mou4kau4 羽毛球  badminton

Besides ball games, some ball shape things are named as kau4

Hei3kau4 氣球 Balloon

Jit6hei3kau4 熱氣球 Hot air balloon

Fung1kau4 風球 Typhoon signal

Ngaan4kau4 眼球 Eye ball

green yellow and blue hot air balloon

Exception is table tennis: Both 乒乓球 bing1bam1kau4 and 乒乓波 bing1bam1 bo1 mean “table tennis”.)

red and brown wooden table tennis racket

In summary, 波 bo1 and 球 kau4 are usually not interchangeable and refer to different things.

 

 

Bonus: in Cantonese, people say bo1bo1 for bubbles, e.g. ceoi1 bo1bo1 吹波波, blow bubbles

Bo1bo1 can be used to describe the polka dot pattern, e.g.  Bo1bo1 saam1 波波衫, clothes with polka dot pattern.

selective photography of boy playing with bubbles Illustrator for Kids: How to Create a Seamless, Retro Polka-Dot Pattern

[Photo credit: www.unsplash.com]