咋 [zaa3] and 喳 [zaa4] in Cantonese grammar

U12L3 Cantonese grammar 咋 [zaa3] and 喳 [zaa4]

In this lesson, the grammar of particle(助詞) 咋 [zaa3] and 喳 [zaa4] in Cantonese will be introduced.  Particle 咋 [zaa3] and 喳 [zaa4] are used to restrict predicate(謂語), object(賓語), cognate object(同指賓語)and adverbial(狀語)of a sentence; 咋 [zaa3] and 喳 [zaa4] cannot be used to restrict subject(主語)of a sentence.

Due to how flexible 咋 [zaa3] and 喳 [zaa4] are, context is crucial for determining which element is being restricted.

Origin for particle 咋 [zaa3] and 喳 [zaa4]

Similar with 㗎 [gaa3/gaa4], 咋 [zaa3] is created by combining [za3] with 啊 [aa3] together and 喳 [zaa4] is created by combining [za3] with 呀 [aa4] together.

Based on the grammar of Cantonese, particle 啊 [aa3] and 呀 [aa4] help determine where can particle 咋 [zaa3] and 喳 [zaa4] be used; particle 咋 [zaa3] can only be used in descriptive sentence(陳述句).  Meanwhile, particle 喳 [zaa4] can only be used in yes-no question(是非問句)of the interrogative sentence.

Grammar of restricting adverbial with particle 咋 [zaa3] and 喳 [zaa4] in Cantonese

ngo5 cam4 jat6 tung4 pang4 jau5 jat1 cai4 waan2 zaa3

我尋日同朋友一齊玩咋。

I played with my friend on yesterday only.  (尋日 is being restricted here; I have not played with my friends on other days)

Type of sentence structure  Predicative expression in series
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial 1 Predicate 1 Object 1 Adverbial 2 Predicate 2 Particle
Part of speech Noun Adverb Preposition Noun Adverb Verb Particle
Words in sentence 尋日 朋友 一齊

 

aa3 neoi2 ngaam1 ngaam1 sin1 fan3 zoek6 zaa3

阿女啱啱先瞓着咋。

Our daughter has just slept.  (啱啱 is being restricted here; our daughter was not asleep before just now)

Type of sentence structure Predicative-complement
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Complement Particle
Part of speech Noun Adverb Verb / Particle
Words in sentence 阿女 啱啱; 先

 

keoi5 soeng6 sing1 kei4 sin1 maai5 ni1 bou6 ce1 zaa3

佢上星期先買呢部車咋。

She has just bought this car last week.  (上星期 is being restricted here; she has not bought the car before last week)

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Adverb Verb Noun Particle
Words in sentence 上星期; 先 呢部車

 

Adverbial of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 星期

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 呢部
Head

Grammar of restricting predicate with particle 咋 [zaa3] and 喳 [zaa4] in Cantonese

keoi5 dei6 jat1 cai4 zou6 gan2 gung1 fo3 zaa3

佢哋一齊做𡁵功課咋。

They are just doing homework together.  (做𡁵功課 is being restricted here; they are not doing anything else)

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Predicative suffix Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Adverb Verb Predicative suffix Noun Particle
Words in sentence 佢哋 一齊 𡁵 功課

 

ngo5 hai2 zau2 baa1 jam2 zau2 zaa3,ngo5 mou5 kau1 neoi2 aa3。

我喺酒吧飲酒咋,我冇溝女啊。

I just drink in bar.  I have not flirted with any girl.  (飲酒 is being restricted here; I just drink and I do not do something else in bar)

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Compound sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2
True value True True
Words in sentence 我喺酒吧飲酒咋 我冇溝女啊

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

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

 

Sentence 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Auxiliary verb Clause Particle
Words in sentence 溝女

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

ngo5 hai2 gin6 san1 sat1 zou6 wan6 dung6 zaa3,ngo5 mou5 gap6 zai2 aa3。

我喺健身室做運動咋,我冇𥄫仔啊。

I just workout in gym.  I have not ogled any guy.  (做運動 is being restricted here; I only workout in gym and I do not do something else)

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Compound sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2
True value True True
Words in sentence 我喺健身室做運動咋 我冇𥄫仔啊

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative expression in series
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate 1 Object 1 Predicate 2 Object 2 Particle
Part of speech Noun Preposition Noun Verb Noun Particle
Words in sentence 健身室 運動

 

Sentence 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Auxiliary verb Clause Particle
Words in sentence 𥄫仔

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

ngo5 dei6 gam1 ci3 heoi3 jat6 bun2 gung1 gon3 zaa3,m4 hai6 heoi3 waan2 aa3

我哋今次去日本公幹咋,唔係去玩啊。

We are going to work in Japan this time.  We are not going to travel in Japan.  (公幹 is being restricted here; we are just going to work and we are not going to something else in Japan)

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Compound sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2
True value True True
Words in sentence 我哋今次去日本公幹咋 唔係去玩啊

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative expression in series
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial 1 Predicate 1 Cognate object 1 Predicate 2 Particle
Part of speech Noun Noun Verb Noun Verb Particle
Words in sentence 我哋 今次 日本 公幹

 

Sentence 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object Particle
Part of speech / Adverb Auxiliary verb Clause Particle
Words in sentence / 去玩

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

咋[zaa3] and 喳[zaa4] can be used to restrict the first predicate of the predicative expression in series(連謂式)too.

ngo5 zi2 hai6 tung4 nei5 gong2 zo2 go2 go3 bei3 mat6 zaa3

我只係同你講咗嗰個秘密咋。

I have only told you about this secret.  (同你 is being restricted here; I have just told you but nobody else about this secret)

Type of sentence structure Predicative expression in series
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial 1 Predicate 1 Object 1 Predicate 2 Predicative suffix 2 Object 2 Particle
Part of speech Noun Adverb Preposition Noun Verb Predicative suffix Noun Particle
Words in sentence 只係 嗰個秘密

 

Object 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 嗰個
Head 秘密

 

ni1 baan1 hok6 ssaang1 zi2 hai6 hai2 lou5 si1 min6 cin4 baan6 gwaai1 zaa3。

呢班學生只係喺老師面前扮乖咋。

These group of students are only pretending to be well-behaved in front of teachers.  (喺老師面前 is being restricted here; they do not pretend to be well-behaved somewhere else)

Type of sentence structure Predicative expression in series
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial 1 Predicate 1 Object 1 Predicate 2 Object 2 Particle
Part of speech Noun Adverb Preposition Noun Auxiliary verb Adjective Particle
Words in sentence 呢班學生 只係 老師面前

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 呢班
Head 學生

 

Object 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 老師
Head 面前

 

ni1 fuk1 waa2 ngo5 jung6 jat1 zi1 jyun4 bat1 waak6 gaa3 zaa3。

呢幅畫我用一枝鉛筆畫㗎咋。

I drew this painting with a pencil only.  (用一枝鉛筆 is being restricted here; I did not use any other tool to draw that painting)

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Particle
Part of speech Noun Sentence Particle
Words in sentence 呢幅畫 我用一枝鉛筆畫 㗎; 咋

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 呢幅
Head

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative expression in series
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate 1 Object 1 Predicate 2
Part of speech Noun Preposition Noun Verb
Words in sentence 一枝鉛筆

 

Object 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 一枝
Head 鉛筆

Grammar of restricting object with particle 咋 [zaa3] and 喳 [zaa4] in Cantonese

咋[zaa3] and 喳[zaa4] can be used to restrict direct object(直接賓語), indirect object(間接賓語)and cognate object(同指賓語).

ngo5 maai5 zo2 dai6 jat1 zaap6 zaa3

我買咗第一集咋。

I have just bought episode 1.  (第一集 is being restricted here; I have not bought episodes other than episode 1)

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Predicative suffix Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Verb Predicative suffix Noun Particle
Words in sentence 第一集

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 第一
Head

 

nei5 zi2 hai6 maai5 zo2 dai6 jat1 zaap6 zaa4

你只係買咗第一集喳?

You have just bought episode 1?

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Predicative suffix Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Adverb Verb Predicative suffix Noun Particle
Words in sentence 只係 第一集

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 第一
Head

 

keoi5 dei6 zi2 hai6 siu2 hok6 saang1 zaa3,dim2 wui6 sik1 mei4 zik1 fan1 aa3?

佢哋只係小學生咋,點會識微積分啊?

They are just primary students.  How would they know Calculus?  (小學生 is being restricted here; they are just primary students and not someone smarter)

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Complex sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2
True value True Unknown
Words in sentence 佢哋只係小學生咋 點會識微積分啊

 

Sentence 1 of the sentence

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Particle
Part of speech Noun Adverb Noun Particle
Words in sentence 佢哋 只係 小學生

 

Sentence 2 of the sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object Particle
Part of speech / Adverb Auxiliary verb Clause Particle
Words in sentence / 識微積分

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech / Verb Noun
Words in sentence / 微積分

 

ngo5 mong6 zo2 go2 go3 neoi5 zai2 gei2 ngaan5 zaa3

我望咗嗰個女仔幾眼咋。

I have only looked at that girl for a few times.  (幾眼 is being restricted here; I have only looked at that girl for a few times and I have not looked at her more or less)

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Predicative suffix Object Cognate object Particle
Part of speech Noun Verb Predicative suffix Noun Noun Particle
Words in sentence 嗰個女仔 幾眼

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 嗰個
Head 女仔

 

Cognate object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

nei5 mong6 zo2 keoi5 gei2 ngaan5 zaa4?

你望咗佢幾眼喳?

You have just looked at her for a few times?

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

 

Cognate object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

keoi5 zi2 hai6 hok6 zo2 jat1 go3 jyut6 gwong2 dung1 waa2 zaa3,daan6 hai6 ji5 ging1 hou2 lau4 lei6 laa3。

佢只係學咗一個月廣東話咋,但係已經好流利喇。

She has only learnt Cantonese for a month, yet she speaks the language fluently.  (一個月 is being restricted here; She has not learnt Cantonese more or less than a month)

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Complex sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2
True value True True
Words in sentence 佢只係學咗一個月廣東話咋 但係已經好流利喇

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Predicative suffix Cognate object Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Adverb Verb Predicative suffix Noun Noun Particle
Words in sentence 只係 一個月 廣東話

 

Sentence 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Conjunction Subject Adverbial Predicate Particle
Part of speech Conjunction / Adverb Adjective Particle
Words in sentence 但係 / 已經; 好 流利

 

keoi5 hok6 zo2 jat1 go3 jyut6 gwong2 dung1 waa2 zaa4

佢學咗一個月廣東話喳?

Has he only learnt a month of Cantonese?

Sentence 1 of that sentence

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

 

Predicative suffix Noun Noun Particle
Words in sentence 一個月 廣東話

 

nei5 uk1 kei2 dak1 jat1 zoeng1 dang3 zaa4

你屋企得一張凳喳?

You only have a chair at your home?  (一張凳 is being restricted here)

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun Particle
Words in sentence 你屋企 一張凳

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 屋企

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 一張
Head

Reference

  1. 鄧思穎(2017)。粤語語法講義。香港:商務印書館,頁 206-209

That’s it for this lesson on the grammar of particle 咋 [zaa3] and 喳 [zaa4] 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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