U8L8 Cantonese grammar 話 [waa2]

In this lesson, the grammar of particle(助詞) 話 [waa2] in Cantonese will be introduced.  Noun(名詞)話 [waa6] means words.  When it is used as a particle, its tone would change to 話 [waa2] and it is used to ask for clarification, as the speaker did not listen clearly and has missed something in that sentence.

Grammar of using 話 [waa2] as a particle in Cantonese

The followings are the rules of using 話 [waa2] in Cantonese .  First of all, 話 cannot be used to ask for information not mentioned in previously said sentence.  Secondly, 話 can only be used to ask for clarification of sentence heard at the moment.  Thirdly, 話 can be used to ask for clarification of sentences said by the listener or someone else.  Lastly, 話 can only be used in specified interrogative sentences(特指問句), disjunctive question(選擇問句) or affirmative-negative question (正反問句).

nei5 gong2 me1 waa2

你講咩話?

(I couldn’t hear you) What did you say?

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

 

keoi5 gei2 dim2 jiu3 ceot1 gaai1 waa2

佢幾點要出街話?

(I couldn’t hear him) When does he need to go out?

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Noun Auxiliary verb Clause Particle
Words in sentence 幾點 出街

 

ngo5 dei6 jiu3 heoi3 bin1 dou6 waa2

我哋要去邊度話?

(I couldn’t hear you) Where do we need to go?

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Auxiliary verb Clause Particle
Words in sentence 我哋 去邊度

 

Nei5 sik6 m4 sik6 faan6 waa2

你食唔食飯話?

(I couldn’t hear you) Are you going to eat or not?

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Compound sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2 Particle
True value True False Particle
Words in sentence 你食 唔食飯

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun
Words in sentence (飯)

 

Sentence 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Adverb Verb Noun
Words in sentence (你)

 

nei5 sik1 m4 sik1 waak6 waa2 waa2

你識唔識畫畫話?

(I couldn’t hear you) Do you know how to draw?

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Compound sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2 Particle
True value True False Particle
Words in sentence 你識 唔識畫畫

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

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 / (畫) (畫)

 

Sentence 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Adverb Auxiliary verb Clause
Words in sentence (你) 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 /

 

baak3 mou5 soeng2 jam2 caa4 ding6 gaa3 fe1 waa2

伯母想飲茶定咖啡話?

(I couldn’t hear your mum) Does your mum want to drink tea or coffee?

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Compound sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2 Particle
True value True True Particle
Words in sentence 伯母想飲茶 定咖啡

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Auxiliary verb Clause
Words in sentence 伯母 飲茶

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech / Verb Noun
Words in sentence /

 

Sentence 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Conjunction Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech Conjunction Noun Auxiliary verb Clause
Words in sentence (伯母) (想) (飲)咖啡

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech / Verb Noun
Words in sentence / (飲) 咖啡

 

gam1 jat6 hai6 sing1 kei4 luk6 ding6 hai6 sing1 kei4 jat6 waa2

今日係星期六定係星期日話?

(I couldn’t hear the broadcast) Is today Saturday or Sunday?

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Compound sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2 Particle
True value True True Particle
Words in sentence 今日係星期六 定係星期日

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Linking verb Noun
Words in sentence 今日 星期六

 

Sentence 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Conjunction Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech Conjunction Noun Linking verb Noun
Words in sentence 定係 (今日) (係) 星期日

 

nei5 zi1 cin4 dim2 joeng2 hok6 gwong2 dung1 waa2 waa2

你之前點樣學廣東話話?

(I couldn’t hear you) How did you learn Cantonese previously?

 

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Noun; adverb Verb Noun Particle
Words in sentence 之前; 點樣 廣東話

 

go2 bou6 ce1 gei2 cin2 waa2?

嗰部車幾錢話?

(I couldn’t hear you) How much is that car?

 

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Particle
Part of speech Noun Noun Particle
Words in sentence 嗰部車 幾錢

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 嗰部
Head

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

 

nei5 dei6 gei2 si4 sik1 deoi3 fong1 waa2

你哋幾時識對方話?

(I couldn’t hear you) When did you meet each other?

 

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Adverb Verb Noun Particle
Words in sentence 你哋 幾時 對方

 

dim2 sam1 hou2 m4 hou2 sik6 waa2

點心好唔好食話?

(I couldn’t hear you) Is Dim Sum delicious?

 

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentence Compound sentences
Components Sentence 1 Sentence 2 Particle
True value True True Particle
Words in sentence 點心(好食) (點心)唔好食

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate
Part of speech Noun Adjective
Words in sentence 點心 (好食)

 

Sentence 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate
Part of speech Noun Adverb Adjective
Words in sentence (點心) 好食

 

ni1 zi1 hung4 zau2 gei2 do1 cin2 waa2

呢支紅酒幾多錢話?

(I couldn’t hear you) How much is this bottle of red wine?

 

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate
Part of speech Noun Noun
Words in sentence 呢支紅酒 幾多錢

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 呢支
Head 紅酒

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 幾多
Head

 

ni1 go3 neoi5 zai2 giu3 me1 meng2 waa2

呢個女仔叫咩名話?

(I couldn’t hear her) What is her name?

 

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object Particle
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun Particle
Words in sentence 呢個女仔 咩名

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 呢個
Head 女仔

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head

Reference

  1. 鄧思穎(2017)。粤語語法講義。香港:商務印書館,頁 236-237

That’s it for this lesson on the grammar of 話 [waa2] 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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