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U1L9 Cantonese grammar 咗 [zo2]

In this lesson, grammar of 咗 [zo2] in Cantonese will be introduced.

Grammar of 咗 [zo2] in Cantonese

咗[zo2] is a predicative suffix(謂詞詞尾)and it is used to indicate an action has been completed.

Ngo5 sik6 zo2 faan6

我食飯。

I have eaten the meal.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicatePredicative suffixObject
Part of speechNounVerbPredicative suffixNoun
Words in sentence

 

Ngo5 zou6 zo2 gung1 fo3

我做功課。

I have done the homework.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicatePredicative suffixObject
Part of speechNounVerbPredicative suffixNoun
Words in sentence功課

 

Ngo5 zou6 zo2 gaa1 mou6

我做咗家務

I have done the housework.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicatePredicative suffixObject
Part of speechNounVerbPredicative suffixNoun
Words in sentence家務

 

Ngo5 zou6 zo2 wan6 dung6

我做咗運動

I have done the exercise.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicatePredicative suffixObject
Part of speechNounVerbPredicative suffixNoun
Words in sentence運動

 

zyu1 zai2 fan3 zo2 gaau3

豬仔瞓覺。

The piggy has slept.

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

豬仔

 

gung1 jan4 ze4 ze1 maai5 zo2 sung3

工人姐姐買餸。

The maid has done grocery.

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

工人姐姐

 

cyu4 si1 zyu2 zo2 je5 sik6

廚師煮嘢食。

The chief has cooked some food.

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

廚師

嘢食

ngo5 waak6 zo2 waa2

我畫咗畫

I have painted a painting.

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

keoi5 git3 zo2 fan1

佢結婚。

She has gotten married.

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

Negating sentences using 咗 [zo2] with 未[mei6]

There are two possible ways to negate a sentence that uses 咗 [zo2] in Cantonese grammar.  For the first one, adverb(副詞)[mei6] can be used in the sentence; 未 means “not yet”.  You cannot use both 未 and 咗 in the same sentence due to their contradicting meaning.

Ngo5 mei6 sik1 faan6

我未食飯。

I have not eaten the meal.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObject
Part of speechNounAdverbVerbNoun
Words in sentence

 

Ngo5 mei6 zou6 gung1 fo3

我未做功課。

I have not yet done the homework.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObject
Part of speechNounAdverbVerbNoun
Words in sentence功課

 

gung1 jan4 ze4 ze1 mei6 maai5 sung3

工人姐姐買餸。

The maid has not done grocery yet.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Adverbial

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Adverb

Verb

Noun

Words in sentence

工人姐姐

 

cyu4 si1 mei6 zyu2 je5 sik6

廚師煮嘢食。

The chief has not cooked yet.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Adverbial

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Adverb

Verb

Noun

Words in sentence

廚師

嘢食

 

ngo5 mei6 waak6 waa2

畫畫

I have not painted yet.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Adverbial

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Adverb

Verb

Noun

Words in sentence

 

keoi5 mei6 git3 fan1

結婚。

She has not gotten married yet.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Adverbial

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Adverb

Verb

Noun

Words in sentence

 

Negating sentences using 咗 [zo2] with 冇 [mou5]

You can also negate the above sentences by using auxiliary verb(助動詞)冇[mou5].  The difference between 未[mei6] and 冇[mou5] will be explained in the last section of this lesson.

Ngo5 mou5 sik1 faan6

食飯。

I did not eat the meal.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Auxiliary verb

Clause

Words in sentence

食飯

 

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 mou5 zou6 gung1 fo3

做功課。

I did not do the homework.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Auxiliary verb

Clause

Words in sentence

做功課

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

/

Verb

Noun

Words in sentence

/

功課

 

gung1 jan4 ze4 ze1 mou5 maai5 sung3

工人姐姐冇買餸。

The maid did not do grocery.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Auxiliary verb

Clause

Words in sentence

工人姐姐

買餸

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

/

Verb

Noun

Words in sentence

/

 

cyu4 si1 mou5 zyu2 je5 sik6

廚師冇煮嘢食。

The chief did not cook.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Auxiliary verb

Clause

Words in sentence

廚師

煮嘢食

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

/

Verb

Noun

Words in sentence

/

嘢食

 

ngo5 mou5 waak6 waa2

畫畫

I did not paint the painting.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Auxiliary verb

Clause

Words in sentence

畫畫

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

/

Verb

Noun

Words in sentence

/

 

keoi5 mou5 git3 fan1

佢冇結婚。

She did not get marry.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Auxiliary verb

Clause

Words in sentence

結婚

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

/

Verb

Noun

Words in sentence

/

結婚

 

Difference between 冇 and 未

Sentences constructed with adverb 未[mei6] would give out a nuance of which even that action is not done yet, and it may be done in the future.  Meanwhile, sentences constructed with 冇 is more neutral and plain.  Imagine you are being interrogated by the police for murder.  You are defending yourself by saying the followings:

Ngo5 mou5 saat3 jan4

我冇殺人。

I did not kill anyone.

Ngo5 mei6 saat3 jan4

我未殺人。

I have not killed anyone yet.

By saying the first sentence, it would simply mean that you did not kill someone; by saying the second sentence, it implies that you have not killed anyone yet but it is likely for you to do so later.

Reference

  1. 鄧思穎(2017)。粤語語法講義。香港:商務印書館,頁 76-77
  2. 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 152-155

That’s it for this lesson on the grammar of 咗 [zo2] 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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