U4L2 Cantonese grammar 住 [zyu6]

In this lesson, the grammar of 住 [zyu6] in Cantonese will be introduced.  住[zyu6] is a word that has overlapped classes and it can be used as a verb(動詞)an d a predicative suffix(謂詞詞尾).  When it is used as the predicative suffix, it indicates an action is being carried out passively and no further action is needed to be done in order to sustain that status.

Grammar of using 住 as a verb in Cantonese

When 住 is being used as a verb, it means “to live or settle” and it is usually used with verb 喺[hai2] under the structure of predicative-complement(謂補式).

Ngo5 dei6 zyu6 hai2 hoeng1 gong2

我哋住喺香港。

We live in Hong Kong.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Clause Noun
Words in sentence 我哋 住喺 香港

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-complement
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Complement
Part of speech / Verb Verb
Words in sentence /

 

Keoi5 dei6 zyu6 hai2 saan1 jap6 min6

佢哋住喺山入面。

They live in mountain.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Clause Noun
Words in sentence 佢哋 住喺 山入面

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 山入
Head

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-complement
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Complement
Part of speech / Verb Verb
Words in sentence /

Grammar of using 住 as a predicative suffix in Cantonese

住 [zyu6] can also be used as a predicative suffix(謂詞詞尾)in Cantonese grammar.  By adding 住 to predicate, it can indicate an action is being carried out at the moment passively, yet no further action is needed to be done in order to sustain that status.

Keoi5 zoek3 zyu6 gin6 hung4 sik1 ngoi6 tou3

佢著住件紅色外套。

He is wearing a red jacket.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Predicative suffix Object
Part of speech Noun Verb Predicative suffix Noun
Words in sentence 件紅色外套

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 件紅色
Head 外套

 

Tung1 soeng4 di1 fei1 zai2 sing4 jat6 dou1 sik6 zyu6 zi1 jin1

通常啲飛仔成日都食住支煙。

Gangsters usually smokes all day.

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate
Part of speech Noun Sentence
Words in sentence 通常 啲飛仔成日都食住支煙

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Predicative suffix Object
Part of speech Noun Noun; Adverb Verb Predicative suffix Noun
Words in sentence 啲飛仔 成日; 都 支煙

 

Subject of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 飛仔

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

Difference between 住 [zyu6] and 𡁵 [gan2]

Sentences constructed with 住 focus on the status of something being passively carried out.  Meanwhile, sentences constructed with 𡁵[gan2] focus on the action of something being actively carried out; the action continues throughout the period of being described.

Keoi5 daai3 gan2 ngaan5 geng3

佢戴𡁵眼鏡。

He is wearing glasses.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Predicative suffix Object
Part of speech Noun Verb Predicative suffix Noun
Words in sentence 𡁵 眼鏡

 

This sentence can only be said when someone is picking up glasses and going to wear it.

Keoi5 daai3 zyu6 ngaan5 geng3

佢戴住眼鏡。

He is wearing glasses.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Predicative suffix Object
Part of speech Noun Verb Predicative suffix Noun
Words in sentence 眼鏡

 

This sentence is much more common than the previous one; it can be said when describing someone is wearing glasses (which the glasses are on his face).

Using 住 [zyu6] in predicative series in expression

Based on the previous section, you should now know that predicative suffix 住 [zyu6] can be used to indicate a status which an action is being carried out passively.  In the structure of predicative series expression(連謂式), it is commonly used to modify the first predicate.

When predicative suffix 住 is used in predicative series expression, it is not restricted to only use it on actions being carried out passively.  You can use it on any action and it will indicate that action is being done while another action is happening; the focus of the sentence is on the latter action, which abides by the focus of predicative series expression structure.

Keoi5 mong6 zyu6 ngo5 siu3

佢望住我笑。

He/she smile at me. (Literal meaning: he/she smile while looking at me)

Type of sentence structure Predicative expression in series
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate 1 Predicative suffix Object 1 Predicate 2
Part of speech Noun Verb Predicative suffix Noun Verb
Words in sentence

 

keoi5 siu3 zyu6 tung4 ngo5 daa2 ziu1 fu1

佢笑住同我打招呼。

He greeted me while smiling.

Type of sentence structure Predicative expression in series
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate 1 Predicative suffix Predicate 2 Object 2 Predicate 3 Object 3
Part of speech Noun Verb Predicative suffix Preposition Noun Verb Noun
Words in sentence 招呼

 

Ngo5 sik6 zyu6 faan6 daa2 gei1

我食住飯打機。

I am playing computer games while eating my meal.

Type of sentence structure Predicative expression in series
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate 1 Predicative suffix Object 1 Predicate 2 Object 2
Part of speech Noun Verb Predicative suffix Noun Verb Noun
Words in sentence

 

cam4 jat6 ngo5 pung2 zyu6 jat1 zaak3 faa1 heoi3 zo2 ngo5 neoi5 pang4 jau5 gung1 si1

尋日我捧住一磧花去咗我女朋友公司。

I went to my girlfriend’s office yesterday with a bunch of flowers.

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate
Part of speech Noun Sentence
Words in sentence 尋日 我捧住一磧花去咗我女朋友公司

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative expression in series
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate 1 Predicative suffix 1 Object 1 Predicate 2 Predicative suffix 2 Cognate Object 2
Part of speech Noun Verb Predicative suffix Noun Verb Predicative suffix Noun
Words in sentence 一磧花 我女朋友公司

 

Object 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 一磧
Head

 

Cognate object 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 我女朋友
Head 公司

 

Reference

  1. 鄧思穎(2017)。粤語語法講義。香港:商務印書館,頁 80-81

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