U8L13 Cantonese grammar 嚟 [lai4]

In this lesson, the grammar of particle(助詞) 嚟 [lai4] in Cantonese will be introduced.  In Unit 1 Lesson 2, you have learnt linking verb 係 [hai6].  Particle(助詞)嚟 [lai4] has the same usage with linking verb 係 [hai6].

When particle 嚟 [lai4] is used, the noun being used as the predicate or the object has to possess an indefinite reference(不定指稱).  To revise reference(指稱), you may refer back to Unit 2 Lesson 13.

張國榮係佢嚟。(X)(佢 possesses an definite reference)

zoeng1 gwok3 wing4 hai6 keoi5

張國榮係佢。(O)

He is Leslie Cheung.

zoeng1 gwok3 wing4 hai6 jat1 go3 go1 sau2

張國榮係一個歌手。(O)

Leslie Cheung is a singer.

Besides, when particle 嚟 [lai4] is used, you cannot use noun representing numbers as the predicate or the object.

今年我二十歲嚟。(X)

gam1 nin4 ngo5 ji6 sap6 seoi3

今年我二十歲。(O)

I am twenty years old.

You cannot use particle 嚟 [lai4] when the subject cannot be equal to the object logically.  Besides, as particle 㗎 [gaa3/ gaa4] can be used with a sentence created with 係 [hai6], it can be used with particle 嚟 [lai4] as well.

呢本書係邊個嚟㗎?(X) (A book cannot be someone; 邊個there is asking for an additional information to describe that book)

ni1 bun2 syu1 hai6 bin1 go3 gaa3

呢本書係邊個㗎?(O)

Whose book is this?

Lastly, when particle 嚟 [lai4] is used, interrogative pronoun(疑問代詞), for instance, 邊個 [bin1 go3], 邊度 [bin1 dou6] and 咩 [me1] can only be used as the predicate or the object; they cannot be used as the subject.

邊個係佢嚟㗎?(X)

keoi5 hai6 bin1 go3 lai4 gaa3

佢係邊個嚟㗎?(O)

Who is he?

Using particle 嚟 [lai4] with 係 [hai6] in Cantonese grammar

When 係 [hai6] is used with 嚟 [lai4], 嚟 [lai4] indicates the subject(主語)equals to the object(賓語).

ni1 di1 hai6 me1 lai4 gaa3

呢啲係咩嚟㗎?

What are these?

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun Particle
Words in sentence 呢啲 嚟; 㗎

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

ni1 di1 hai6 tai4 zi2 lai4 gaa3

呢啲係提子嚟㗎。

These are grapes.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun Particle
Words in sentence 呢啲 提子 嚟; 㗎

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

keoi5 hai6 bin1 go3 lai4 gaa3

佢係邊個嚟㗎?

Who is she?

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun Particle
Words in sentence 邊個 嚟; 㗎

 

keoi5 hai6 ngo5 neoi5 pang4 jau5 lai4 gaa3

佢係我女朋友嚟㗎。

She is my girlfriend.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun Particle
Words in sentence 我女朋友 嚟; 㗎

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 女朋友

 

ni1 zi1 bat1 hai6 bin1 go3 zi1 bat1 lai4 gaa3

呢支筆係邊個支筆嚟㗎?

Who’s pen is this?

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun Particle
Words in sentence 呢支筆 邊個支筆 嚟; 㗎

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 呢支
Head

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 邊個支
Head

 

ni1 zi1 bat1 hai6 go2 go3 bou2 on1 jun4 zi1 bat1 lai4 gaa3

呢支筆係嗰個保安員支筆嚟㗎。

This is that security guard’s pen.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun Particle
Words in sentence 呢支筆 嗰個保安員支筆 嚟; 㗎

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 呢支
Head

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 嗰個保安員支
Head

 

ni1 go3 gam3 leng3 ge3 neoi5 zai2 hai6 bin1 go3 lai4 gaa3

呢個咁靚嘅女仔係邊個嚟㗎?

Who is this beautiful girl?

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun Particle
Words in sentence 呢個咁靚嘅女仔 邊個 嚟; 㗎

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 呢個咁靚嘅
Head 女仔

 

keoi5 hai6 hoeng1 gong2 siu2 ze2 lai4 gaa3

佢係香港小姐嚟㗎。

She is Miss Hong Kong.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun Particle
Words in sentence 香港小姐 嚟; 㗎

Using particle 嚟 [lai4] without 係 [hai6] in Cantonese grammar

When 係 [hai6] is not used with 嚟 [lai4], 嚟 [lai4] indicates the subject(主語)equals to the predicate(謂語).

ni1 di1 mat1 je5 lai4 gaa3

呢啲乜嘢嚟㗎?

What are these?

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Particle
Part of speech Noun Noun Particle
Words in sentence 呢啲 乜嘢 嚟; 㗎

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

keoi5 bin1 go3 lai4 gaa3?

佢邊個嚟㗎?

Who is he?

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Particle
Part of speech Noun Noun Particle
Words in sentence 邊個 嚟; 㗎

 

ngo5 naam4 pang4 jau5 lai4 gaa3

我男朋友嚟㗎。

He is my boyfriend.

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Particle
Part of speech / Noun Particle
Words in sentence / 我男朋友 嚟; 㗎

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 男朋友

 

ni1 dou6 bin1 dou6 lai4 gaa3

呢度邊度嚟㗎?

Where is here?

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Particle
Part of speech Noun Noun Particle
Words in sentence 呢啲 邊度 嚟; 㗎

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

ni1 dou6 ou3 mun4 lai4 gaa3

呢度澳門嚟㗎。

Here is Macau.

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Particle
Part of speech Noun Noun Particle
Words in sentence 呢度 澳門 嚟; 㗎

Reference

  1. 鄧思穎(2017)。粤語語法講義。香港:商務印書館,頁 196-197
  2. 鄧思穎(2016)。再論粤語「嚟」的語法特點。

That’s it for this lesson on the grammar of 嚟 [lai4] 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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