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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 structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounVerbNounParticle
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 structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounNounAuxiliary verbClauseParticle
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 structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounAuxiliary verbClauseParticle
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 sentenceCompound sentences
ComponentsSentence 1Sentence 2Particle
True valueTrueFalseParticle
Words in sentence你食唔食飯

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

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

 

Sentence 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObject
Part of speechNounAdverbVerbNoun
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 sentenceCompound sentences
ComponentsSentence 1Sentence 2Particle
True valueTrueFalseParticle
Words in sentence你識唔識畫畫

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounAuxiliary verbClause
Words in sentence(畫畫)

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

Sentence 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObject
Part of speechNounAdverbAuxiliary verbClause
Words in sentence(你)畫畫

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speech/VerbNoun
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 sentenceCompound sentences
ComponentsSentence 1Sentence 2Particle
True valueTrueTrueParticle
Words in sentence伯母想飲茶定咖啡

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounAuxiliary verbClause
Words in sentence伯母飲茶

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

Sentence 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceConjunctionSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechConjunctionNounAuxiliary verbClause
Words in sentence(伯母)(想)(飲)咖啡

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speech/VerbNoun
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 sentenceCompound sentences
ComponentsSentence 1Sentence 2Particle
True valueTrueTrueParticle
Words in sentence今日係星期六定係星期日

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounLinking verbNoun
Words in sentence今日星期六

 

Sentence 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceConjunctionSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechConjunctionNounLinking verbNoun
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 structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounNoun; adverbVerbNounParticle
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 structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateParticle
Part of speechNounNounParticle
Words in sentence嗰部車幾錢

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier嗰部
Head

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
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 structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounAdverbVerbNounParticle
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 sentenceCompound sentences
ComponentsSentence 1Sentence 2Particle
True valueTrueTrueParticle
Words in sentence點心(好食)(點心)唔好食

 

Sentence 1 of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate
Part of speechNounAdjective
Words in sentence點心(好食)

 

Sentence 2 of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicate
Part of speechNounAdverbAdjective
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 structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate
Part of speechNounNoun
Words in sentence呢支紅酒幾多錢

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier呢支
Head紅酒

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
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 structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounVerbNounParticle
Words in sentence呢個女仔咩名

 

Subject of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier呢個
Head女仔

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
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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