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U3L5 Cantonese grammar 畀 [bei2] and 由 [jau4]

In this lesson, Cantonese grammar of 畀 [bei2] and 由 [jau4] will be introduced.  These two prepositions(介詞)are very important, as they are used for creating passive voice sentences in Cantonese.  Study this lesson carefully until you feel confident in using them.

Grammar of 畀 [bei2]

畀[bei2] can be functioned as a verb(動詞)or a preposition(介詞).  When 畀 is being used as the first predicate in predicative expression in series(連謂式), a sentence in passive voice can be created.  Passive voice is usually used in Cantonese under the following conditions:

  1. when the subject has undergone an unexpected situation involuntarily
  2. The actor of that action is unknown; 人[jan4] will be used to represent that unknown actor instead of completely omitting it.
  3. Strictly speaking, passive voice is used to describe negative situations. However, it is acceptable nowadays to use passive voice to describe something positive.

The object of 畀[bei2] is the actor of the action; the action is referring to the second predicate in predicative expression in series.  The subject of the first predicate is the receiver or the thing being affected by that action.

Ngo5 gam1 jat6 bei2 lou5 si1 naau6

我今日畀老師鬧。

I was scolded by the teacher today.

Type of sentence structurePredicative expression in series
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicate 1Object 1Predicate 2
Part of speechNounNounPrepositionNounVerb
Words in sentence今日老師

 

cin4 jat6 hai2 kau4 coeng4 dou6 ngo5 bei2 jan4 daa2 zo2 gei2 kyun4

前日喺球場度,我畀人打咗幾拳。

When I was in playground the day before yesterday, I was punched few times by someone.

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate
Part of speechSentenceSentence
Words in sentence前日喺球場度我畀人打咗幾拳

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounVerbNoun
Words in sentence前日球場度

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier球場
Head

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative expression in series
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate 1Object 1Predicate 2Predicative suffixCognate object
Part of speechNounPrepositionNounVerbPredicative suffixNoun
Words in sentence幾拳

 

Cognate object of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier
Head

 

fan3 gan2 gaau3 ge3 si4 hau6 ngo5 bei2 neoi5 pang4 jau5 sek3 zo2 jat1 daam6

瞓𡁵覺嘅時候,我畀女朋友錫咗一啖。

When I was sleeping, I was kissed once by my girlfriend.

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate
Part of speechNounSentence
Words in sentence瞓𡁵覺嘅時候我畀女朋友惜咗一啖

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier瞓𡁵覺
Head時候

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative expression in series
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate 1Object 1Predicate 2Predicative suffixCognate object
Part of speechNounPrepositionNounVerbPredicative suffixNoun
Words in sentence女朋友一啖

 

Cognate object of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier
Head

 

Sik6 gan2 faan6 ge3 si4 hau6 ngo5 di1 je5 sik6 bei2 aa3 mui2 coeng2 zo2

食𡁵飯嘅時候,我啲嘢食畀阿妹搶咗。

When we were having meal, my food was grabbed by my sister.

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate
Part of speechNounSentence
Words in sentence食𡁵飯嘅時候我啲嘢食畀阿妹搶咗

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier食𡁵飯
Head時候

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative expression in series
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate 1Object 1Predicate 2Predicative suffix
Part of speechNounPrepositionNounVerbPredicative suffix
Words in sentence我啲嘢食阿妹

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier我啲
Head嘢食

 

Ngo5 baai2 hai2 uk1 kei2 di1 cin2 bei2 jan4 tau1 saai3

我擺喺屋企啲錢畀人偷晒。

The money which I put at home was completely stolen.

Type of sentence structurePredicative expression in series
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate 1Object 1Predicate 2Predicative suffix
Part of speechNounPrepositionNounVerbPredicative suffix
Words in sentence我擺喺屋企啲錢

 

Subject of that sentence
Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier我擺喺屋企啲
Head

 

Grammar of 由 [jau4]

You can also use preposition 由[jau4] to create a passive sentence.  Nevertheless, sentences created with 由 is formal and usually being used in a speech and none of the reasons for using passive voice mentioned above is related with 由.

ni1 go3 bei2 coi3 jau4 zing3 fu2 geoi2 baan6

呢個比賽由政府舉辦。

This competition is hosted by the government.

Type of sentence structurePredicative expression in series
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate 1Object 1Predicate 2
Part of speechNounPrepositionNounVerb
Words in sentence呢個比賽政府舉辦

 

Subject of that sentence
Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier呢個
Head比賽

 

ni1 ci3 wui6 ji5 jau4 wui6 zoeng2 zyu2 dou6

呢次會議由會長主導。

This meeting is led by the club president.

Type of sentence structurePredicative expression in series
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate 1Object 1Predicate 2
Part of speechNounPrepositionNounVerb
Words in sentence呢次會議會長主導

 

Subject of that sentence
Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier呢次
Head會議

 

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 401-403

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