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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 structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounClauseNoun
Words in sentence我哋住喺香港

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speech/VerbVerb
Words in sentence/

 

Keoi5 dei6 zyu6 hai2 saan1 jap6 min6

佢哋住喺山入面。

They live in mountain.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounClauseNoun
Words in sentence佢哋住喺山入面

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier山入
Head

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speech/VerbVerb
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 structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicatePredicative suffixObject
Part of speechNounVerbPredicative suffixNoun
Words in sentence件紅色外套

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structureSubordination
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 structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate
Part of speechNounSentence
Words in sentence通常啲飛仔成日都食住支煙

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicatePredicative suffixObject
Part of speechNounNoun; AdverbVerbPredicative suffixNoun
Words in sentence啲飛仔成日; 都支煙

 

Subject of that sentence
Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier
Head飛仔

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structureSubordination
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 structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicatePredicative suffixObject
Part of speechNounVerbPredicative suffixNoun
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 structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicatePredicative suffixObject
Part of speechNounVerbPredicative suffixNoun
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 structurePredicative expression in series
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate 1Predicative suffixObject 1Predicate 2
Part of speechNounVerbPredicative suffixNounVerb
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 structurePredicative expression in series
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate 1Predicative suffixPredicate 2Object 2Predicate 3Object 3
Part of speechNounVerbPredicative suffixPrepositionNounVerbNoun
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 structurePredicative expression in series
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate 1Predicative suffixObject 1Predicate 2Object 2
Part of speechNounVerbPredicative suffixNounVerbNoun
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 structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate
Part of speechNounSentence
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 structurePredicative expression in series
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate 1Predicative suffix 1Object 1Predicate 2Predicative suffix 2Cognate Object 2
Part of speechNounVerbPredicative suffixNounVerbPredicative suffixNoun
Words in sentence一磧花我女朋友公司

 

Object 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier一磧
Head

 

Cognate object 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
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

That’s it for this lesson on the grammar of 住 [zyu6] 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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