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U1L5 Cantonese grammar 有 [jau5]

In this lesson, the grammar of 有 [jau5] and 冇 [mou5] in Cantonese will be introduced.  Both [jau5] and 冇 [mou5] has an overlapped class(詞類重置)and it can be used as a verb(動詞)or an auxiliary verb(助動詞).  When they are used as a verb, they can be translated as “to have” in Cantonese. 

Grammar of using 有 [jau5] as a verb in Cantonese

By using 有 [jau5] as the predicate with a noun object, you can express a state of possessing an object.  The followings sentences follow the structure of predicative-object(謂賓式).

ngo5 jau5 cin4

我有錢。

I have money.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounVerbNoun
Words in sentence

 

Ngo5 jau5 ce1

我有車。

I have a car.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounVerbNoun
Words in sentence

 

Ngo5 jau5 neoi5 pang4 jau5

我有女朋友。

I have a girlfriend.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounVerbNoun
Words in sentence女朋友

Keoi5 jau5 siu2 pang4 jau5

佢有小朋友。

She has a kid.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Verb

Noun

Words in sentence

小朋友

 

aa3 go1 jau5 wun6 geoi6

阿哥有玩具。

My older brother has toys.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Verb

Noun

Words in sentence

阿哥

玩具

 

aa3 mui2 jau5 tong2

阿妹有糖。

My younger sister has candies.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Verb

Noun

Words in sentence

阿妹

 

Ngo5 jau5 pang4 jau5

我有朋友。

I have friends.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Verb

Noun

Words in sentence

朋友

Grammar of using 冇 [mou5] as a verb in Cantonese

To negate sentences created with 有 [jau5], you need to use the verb 冇 [mou5] to replace 有 [jau5], which is its antonym.

ngo5 mou5 cin4

我冇錢。

I don’t have money.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Verb

Noun

Words in sentence

 

Ngo5 mou5 ce1

我冇車。

I don’t have a car.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Verb

Noun

Words in sentence

 

Ngo5 mou5 neoi5 pang5 jau5

我冇女朋友。

I don’t have a girlfriend.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Verb

Noun

Words in sentence

女朋友

Grammar of using 有 [jau5] as an auxiliary verb in Cantonese

Other than being used to indicate the existence of something, 有 [jau5] can be used as an auxiliary verb(助動詞)to emphasize an action has been done. An auxiliary verb can only take a clause as an object; a clause is a sentence that does not have a subject.  Again, auxiliary verb(助動詞)will be explained in Unit 1 Lesson 6.

Ngo5 mou5 sik1 dim2 sam1

我冇食點心。

I did not eat Dim Sum.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Auxiliary verb

Clause

Words in sentence

食點心

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

Ngo5 soeng6 sing1 kei4 jau5 faan1 hok6

我上星期有返學。

I attended school last week.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObject
Part of speechNounNounAuxiliary verbClause
Words in sentence上星期返學

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

Ngo5 jau5 zou6 gung1 fo3

我有做功課。

I did 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 structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speech/VerbNoun
Words in sentence/功課

 

Ngo5 mou5 zou6 wan6 dung6

我冇做運動。

I did not exercise.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Auxiliary verb

Clause

Words in sentence

做運動

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

aa3 maa1 jau5 zyu2 faan6

阿媽有煮飯。

My mum has cooked.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Auxiliary verb

Clause

Words in sentence

阿媽

煮飯

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

/

Verb

Noun

Words in sentence

/

 

keoi5 jau5 zou6 gaa1 mou6

佢有做家務。

He has done housework.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Auxiliary verb

Clause

Words in sentence

做家務

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

/

Verb

Noun

Words in sentence

/

家務

 

ngo5 mou5 daa2 gei1

我冇打機。

I have not played videogame.

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

Noun

Auxiliary verb

Clause

Words in sentence

打機

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure

Predicative-object

Functions in sentence

Subject

Predicate

Object

Part of speech

/

Verb

Noun

Words in sentence

/

Reference

  1. 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 390-392。

That’s it for this lesson on the grammar of 有 [jau5] and 冇 [mou5] 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!

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. The example 「我上星期有返學」,
    In the “words in sentence” wrote 「我上星期冇返學」。
    I think it is just a minor typo.
    thanks : )

    1. 我哋啱啱更正咗,唔該晒你啊!

  2. So, pretty sure in Cantonese we say 上个星期 not 上星期. Also the tone for 返 in 返學. first tone, so faan1, which is in fact said this way in the audio.

    1. Also pretty sure 機 isn’t used to mean videogames, but instead 遊戲 or 游戲 is used

    2. Hi Myria,

      Thank you so much for your feedback. It was a typo regarding the tone of 返 and we have corrected it. As we are from Hong Kong, example sentences and vocabulary based used by Hongkongers are used. Both 上星期 and 上個星期 are fine for us, and 打機 is correct. 機 is originally referring to the large machine in arcade centre. We don’t say 打遊戲, but we will say 玩遊戲.

      As Cantonese speakers scatters across the global, it is normal to have vocabulary difference, and I would like to learn more about it. May I ask where are you from?

      Hugo Sum
      Founder of How to study Cantonese

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