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Singlish101: How to use ‘lah’?

Singlish word: Lah. Derived from the Mandarin word 啦 (la)
Used at the end of a response expressing your opinion, or when saying something as a matter-of-factly, in persuasion, sheepishly, or in irritation.

We bet you’ve heard the singlish word ‘lah’ if you have at least interacted with a local (is it even a word?!) This word is so versatile that it can be attached at the end of almost every sentence and mean something different each time, depending on the intonation. If we hear locals speak, or watch our videos, you will notice that ‘lah’ comes around all the time in our conversations.

Examples:

  • Your friend invites you for a party and you decline. Your friend tries to persuade and says ‘Come lah,’ and drags the ‘lah’ portion.
  • After your friend asks you the same question 5 times. ‘You mean he really ate 10 bowls of noodles?’ Your response ‘Ya (Yes) lah!’ in an irritated tone.
  • Your friend gives you an expensive gift and you feel shy or embarrassed to accept it. You respond ‘No lah,’ and drag the ‘lah’ portion, to express ‘You shouldn’t have.’/’It’s not necessary.

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