First of all, we should make clear what is Mandarin and what is Cantonese. Mandarin refers to Standard Chinese, which is based on the Beijing dialect, of course with some lexical and syntactic influence from other Mandarin dialects.
As the official spoken language of the People's Republic of China, it is under the name "Chinese". In China, we call the modern standard language “Pǔtōnghuà”, which means “common speech". Cantonese is the dialect of Yue which is spoken in southern China, especially in Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macau. It is also spoken widely among overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia, especially in Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore and the Western world, most notably in Canada, Australia and the United States. The differences between Mandarin and Cantonese is obviously, as for the tones, we all know that there are 4 tones in Mandarin,however,there are 9 tones in Cantonese. Except for tones, vocabulary and grammar structures also differs. Technically, Cantonese keeps the pronunciation and grammar features of the ancient Chinese more. You’ll find that sometimes reading poems in Cantonese sounds more rhyme.
By virtue of political influence, Mandarin is the most popular dialect in China, almost all Chinese can understand it, if you can speak Mandarin, I believe that you will enjoy yourself anywhere in China, it is very easy and convenient to communicate with Chinese no matter you are in northern China or southern China.You can use Mandarin to order delicious food, do shopping and get to know new Chinese friends anytime and anywhere.
However, due to Guangzhou’s and Hong Kong’s long standing as important cultural centers, Cantonese emerged as the prestige dialect of the Yue(粤) varieties of Chinese in the Southernand its usage spread around most of what is now the province of Guangdong. If you ever worked or stayed in Guangdong or Hong Kong, you may find that the broadcast on bus and metro radio use both Mandarin and Cantonese. Local people prefer speaking Cantonese although they can speak Mandarin well. So if you are interested in Cantonese, why not starting to learn Cantonese as well, not to mention many melodious songs written in Cantonese!
Since 1909 China has promoted Mandarin for use in education, the media and official communication. So Mandarin is a better choice for foreigners to study Chinese. Try a free 1-on-1 live Mandarin lesson now