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U1L3 Adjectives in Cantonese(形容詞)

In this lesson, adjectives (形容詞) in Cantonese will be introduced.  To use adjective to describe the subject, you can just use the adjective as the predicate, according to the structure of subject-predicative (主謂式).

Using Adjectives in Cantonese

ngo5 fei4

我肥。

I am fat.

Types of sentence structure

Subject-predicative

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Part of speech

Noun

Adjective

Words in sentence

 

keoi5 gou1

佢高。

He is tall.

Types of sentence structure

Subject-predicative

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Part of speech

Noun

Adjective

Words in sentence

 

keoi5 cung1 ming4

佢聰明。

He is smart.

Types of sentence structure

Subject-predicative

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Part of speech

Noun

Adjective

Words in sentence

聰明

 

However, sentences like this are rarely used.  In order to create a sentence that sounds natural, you have to add 好[hou2] before the adjective.  好 is an adverb(副詞)and it means “very” here.

ngo5 hou2 fei4

我好肥。

I am very fat.

Types of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicate
Part of speechNounAdverbAdjective
Words in sentence

 

keoi5 hou2 gou1

佢好高。

He is very tall.

Types of sentence structure

Subject-predicative

Functions in sentence

Subject

Adverbial

Predicate

Part of speech

Noun

Adverb

Adjective

Words in sentence

 

keoi5 hou2 cung1 ming4

佢好聰明。

He is very clever.

Types of sentence structure

Subject-predicative

Functions in sentence

Subject

Adverbial

Predicate

Part of speech

Noun

Adverb

Adjective

Words in sentence

聰明

 

gau2 zai2 hou2 ho2 oi3

狗仔好可愛。

Dogs are very cute.

Types of sentence structure

Subject-predicative

Functions in sentence

Subject

Adverb

Predicate

Part of speech

Noun

Adverb

Adjective

Words in sentence

狗仔

可愛

Using adjectives​ in Cantonese: Negation

To negate a sentence with adjective, simply put an adverb(副詞)唔[m4] into the sentence.

ngo5 m4 fei4

我唔肥。

I am not fat.

Types of sentence structure

Subject-predicative

Functions in sentence

Subject

Adverbial

Predicate

Part of speech

Noun

Adverb

Adjective

Words in sentence

 

keoi5 m4 gou1

佢唔高。

She is not tall.​

Types of sentence structure

Subject-predicative

Functions in sentence

Subject

Adverbial

Predicate

Part of speech

Noun

Adverb

Adjective

Words in sentence

 

keoi5 m4 cung1 ming4

佢唔聰明。

He is not clever.

Types of sentence structure

Subject-predicative

Functions in sentence

Subject

Adverbial

Predicate

Part of speech

Noun

Adverb

Adjective

Words in sentence

聰明

 

gau2 zai2 m4 ho2 oi3

狗仔唔可愛。

Dogs are not cute.

Types of sentence structure

Subject-predicative

Functions in sentence

Subject

Adverbial

Predicate

Part of speech

Noun

Adverb

Adjective

Words in sentence

狗仔

可愛


If there is any other adverb in the sentence, for example, 好[hou2], you need to use 係[hai6] as the predicate of the sentence with 唔 and turn the rest into a clause; the sentence will then become a determinative sentence and negate in the way that you have learnt in Unit 1 Lesson 2.​

ngo5 m4 hai6 hou2 fei4

我唔係好肥。

I am not really fat.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObject
Part of speechNounAdverbVerbClause
Words in sentence好肥

 

Object of the sentence

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicate
Part of speech/AdverbAdjective
Words in sentence/

 

keoi5 m4 hai6 hou2 gou1

佢唔係好高。

She is not really tall.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObject
Part of speechNounAdverbVerbClause
Words in sentence好高

 

Object of the sentence

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicate
Part of speech/AdverbAdjective
Words in sentence/

 

keoi5 m4 hai6 hou2 cung1 ming4

佢唔係好聰明。

He is not really clever.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObject
Part of speechNounAdverbVerbClause
Words in sentence好聰明

 

Object of the sentence

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicate
Part of speech/AdverbAdjective
Words in sentence/聰明

Reference

  1. 張洪年(2007)。香港粤語語法的研究(增訂版)。香港:中文大學出版社,頁 366-367。

That’s it for this lesson on adjectives in Cantonese!  If you appreciate our work, sign up now and give us a LikeCoin by clicking the LikeCoin button below 5 times.  It will empower us to create more useful contents for you in the future!

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