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U8L7 Cantonese grammar 咩 [me1]

U8L7 Cantonese grammar 咩 [me1]

In this lesson, grammar of 咩 [me1] in Cantonese will be introduced.  咩 [me1] is a particle(助詞)and it can be used to create a rhetorical question or to show your surprise.  You can only use 咩[me1] in the yes-no question(是非問句).

Usage 1 of 咩 [me1] in Cantonese grammar

Particle(助詞)咩 [me1] can be used in a question to show the speaker’s surprise when the reality is contradictory with his expectation.

nei5 mei6 zyu2 faan6 me1

你未煮飯咩?

Haven’t you cooked the meal yet?  (I thought you have cooked the meal already, yet in face you haven’t)

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounAdverbVerbNounParticle
Words in sentence

 

nei5 hai6 siu1 fong4 jyun4 me1

你係消防員咩?

Are you a firefighter? (I thought you are not a firefighter, yet in fact you are)

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounLinking verbNounParticle
Words in sentence消防員

 

nei5 m4 zung1 ji3 tek3 bo1 me1

你唔中意踢波咩?

Don’t you like playing football?  (I thought you like playing football, yet in fact you don’t)

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounAdverbAuxiliary verbClauseParticle
Words in sentence中意踢波

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speech/VerbNoun
Words in sentence/

 

nei5 ting1 jat6 wui5 tung4 ngo5 jat1 cai4 faan1 hok6 me1

你聽日會同我一齊返學咩?

Will you go to school with me tomorrow?  (I thought you won’t go to school with me, yet in fact you want to)

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounNounAuxiliary VerbClauseParticle
Words in sentence聽日同我一齊返學

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative expression in series
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate 1Object 1Adverbial 2Predicate 2Object 2Particle
Part of speech/PrepositionNounAdverbVerbNounParticle
Words in sentence/一齊

 

nei5 m4 sik1 gong2 gwong2 dung1 waa2 me1

你唔識講廣東話咩?

Can’t you speak Cantonese?  (I thought you know how to speak Cantonese, yet in fact you don’t)

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounAdverbAuxiliary verbClauseParticle
Words in sentence講廣東話

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speech/VerbNoun
Words in sentence/廣東話

 

nei5 zi1 cin4 heoi3 gwo3 hoeng1 gong2 me1

你之前去過香港咩?

Have you been to Hong Kong before?  (I thought you have never been to Hong Kong, yet in fact you have been to Hong Kong before)

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicatePredicative suffixObjectParticle
Part of speechNounAdverbVerbPredicative suffixClauseParticle
Words in sentence之前香港

 

keoi5 bou6 din6 waa2 laan6 zo2 me1

佢部電話爛咗咩?

Has his phone broken?  (I thought his phone has not broken, yet in fact it has broken)

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicatePredicative suffixParticle
Part of speechNounAdjectivePredicative suffixParticle
Words in sentence佢部電話

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier
Head部電話

 

keoi5 dei6 m4 sik1 zaa1 faai3 zi2 me1

佢哋唔識揸筷子咩?

Don’t they know how to hold chopsticks?  (I thought they know how to hold chopsticks, yet in fact they don’t)

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounAdverbAuxiliary verbClauseParticle
Words in sentence佢哋揸筷子

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speech/VerbNoun
Words in sentence/筷子

 

oi3 jan1 si1 taan2 m4 hai6 cyun4 sai3 gaai3 zeoi3 cung1 ming4 ge3 jan4 me1

愛因斯坦唔係全世界最聰明嘅人咩?

Wasn’t Albert Einstein the smartest person in the world?  (I thought Albert Einstein was the smartest person in the world, yet in fact he wasn’t)

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounAdverbLinking verbNounParticle
Words in sentence愛因斯坦全世界最聰明嘅人

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier全世界最聰明
Head

Usage 2 of 咩 [me1] in Cantonese grammar

When the reality matches with the expectation of the speaker, 咩 [me1] can also be used to create a rhetorical question for reminding the listeners.

nei5 hai6 siu1 fong4 jyun4 me1

你係消防員咩?

Are you a firefighter? (I know you are not a firefighter and you should know about that as well)

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounLinking verbNounParticle
Words in sentence消防員

 

nei5 ting1 jat6 wui5 tung4 ngo5 jat1 cai4 faan1 hok6 me1

你聽日會同我一齊返學咩?

Will you go to school with me tomorrow? (I know you will not go to school with me tomorrow and you should know about that as well)

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounNounAuxiliary VerbClauseParticle
Words in sentence聽日同我一齊返學

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative expression in series
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate 1Object 1Adverbial 2Predicate 2Object 2Particle
Part of speech/PrepositionNounAdverbVerbNounParticle
Words in sentence/一齊

 

nei5 zi1 cin4 heoi3 gwo3 hoeng1 gong2 me1

你之前去過香港咩?

Have you been to Hong Kong before? (I know you have not been to Hong Kong before and you should know about that as well)

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicatePredicative suffixObjectParticle
Part of speechNounAdverbVerbPredicative suffixClauseParticle
Words in sentence之前香港

 

keoi5 bou6 din6 waa2 laan6 zo2 me1

佢部電話爛咗咩?

Has his phone broken? (I know his phone is not broken and you should know about that as well)

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicatePredicative suffixParticle
Part of speechNounAdjectivePredicative suffixParticle
Words in sentence佢部電話

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier
Head部電話

 

nei5 mei6 zyu2 faan6 me1

你未煮飯咩?

Haven’t you cooked the meal yet? (I know you have already cooked the meal and you should know about that as well)

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounAdverbVerbNounParticle
Words in sentence

 

nei5 m4 zung1 ji3 tek3 bo1 me1

你唔鐘意踢波咩?

Don’t you like playing football? (I know you like playing football and you should know about that as well)

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounAdverbAuxiliary verbClauseParticle
Words in sentence鐘意踢波

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speech/VerbNoun
Words in sentence/

 

nei5 m4 sik1 gong2 gwong2 dung1 waa2 me1

你唔識講廣東話咩?

Can’t you speak Cantonese? (I know you can speak Cantonese and you should know about that as well)

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounAdverbAuxiliary verbClauseParticle
Words in sentence講廣東話

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speech/VerbNoun
Words in sentence/廣東話

 

keoi5 dei6 m4 sik1 zaa1 faai3 zi2 me1

佢哋唔識揸筷子咩?

Don’t they know how to hold chopsticks? (I know they know how to hold chopsticks and you should know about that as well)

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounAdverbAuxiliary verbClauseParticle
Words in sentence佢哋揸筷子

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speech/VerbNoun
Words in sentence/筷子

 

oi3 jan1 si1 taan2 m4 hai6 cyun4 sai3 gaai3 zeoi3 cung1 ming4 ge3 jan4 me1

愛因斯坦唔係全世界最聰明嘅人咩?

Wasn’t Albert Einstein the smartest person in the world? (I know Albert Einstein was the smartest person in the world and you should know about that as well)

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounAdverbLinking verbNounParticle
Words in sentence愛因斯坦全世界最聰明嘅人

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier全世界最聰明
Head

Reference

  1. 鄧思穎(2017)。粤語語法講義。香港:商務印書館,頁 233-235

That’s it for this Cantonese grammar lesson!  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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