How to say “I don’t understand” in Cantonese?
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How to say “I don’t understand” in Cantonese?

 

In this Cantonese vocabulary lesson, the way of saying “I don’t understand” in Cantonese will be introduced.  It is inevitable that you will come across some words or sentences that you don’t understand in a Cantonese conversation.  Do you know how to say “I don’t understand” in Cantonese?  If you don’t, this lesson is for you!  You can use verb(動詞)知[zi1], 明[ming4] and clause(分句)聽唔明[teng1 m4 ming4] to create a sentence indicating you don’t understand something.

知[zi1]

ngo5 m4 zi1 nei5 gong2 me1 aa3

我唔知你講咩啊。

I don’t understand what you say.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounAdverbVerbSentenceParticle
Words in sentence你講咩

 

知[zi1] is a verb related with thinking, therefore it can take a sentence as its object.  To learn more about taking a sentence as the object of a sentence, please refer to Unit 1 Lesson 8.

Object of that sentence

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

 

咩[me1], 乜[mat1] and 乜嘢[mat1 je5] are interrogative pronouns(疑問代詞)with identical meaning.  To learn more about using these interrogative pronouns, please refer to Unit 8 Lesson 1.

ngo5 m4 zi1 nei5 soeng2 gong2 mat1 je5 aa3

我唔知你想講乜嘢啊。

I don’t understand what you want to say.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounAdverbVerbSentenceParticle
Words in sentence你想講乜嘢

 

As 想[soeng2] is an auxiliary verb(助動詞), it can take a clause(分句) as its object.  To learn more about auxiliary verb, you may refer to Unit 1 Lesson 6.

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounAuxiliary verbClause
Words in sentence講乜嘢

 

Object of that sentence

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

明[ming4]

ngo5 m4 ming4 nei5 gong2 me1 aa3

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我唔明你講咩啊。

I don’t understand what you say.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounAdverbVerbSentenceParticle
Words in sentence你講咩

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

ngo5 m4 ming4 nei5 soeng2 gong2 me1 aa3

我唔明你想講咩啊。

I don’t understand what you want to say.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounAdverbVerbSentenceParticle
Words in sentence你想講咩

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounAuxiliary verbClause
Words in sentence講咩

 

Object of that sentence

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

聽唔明[teng1 m4 ming4]

聽唔明[teng1 m4 ming4] is not a standalone word; it is created by adding resultative complement(結果補語)明[ming4] and potential complement(能性補語)唔[m4] to the verb 聽[teng1].  To learn more about resultative complement, you may refer to Unit 10 Lesson 1; to learn more about potential complement, you may refer to Unit 10 Lesson 8.

ngo5 teng1 m4 ming4 nei5 gong2 me1 aa3

我聽唔明你講咩啊。

I don’t understand what you say.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounClauseSentenceParticle
Words in sentence聽唔明你講咩

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speech/Verb; /Verb
Words in sentence/聽; 唔

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

ngo5 teng1 m4 ming4 nei5 soeng2 gong2 mat1 aa3

我聽唔明你想講乜啊。

I don’t understand what you want to say.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObjectParticle
Part of speechNounClauseSentenceParticle
Words in sentence聽唔明你想講咩

 

Predicate of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speech/Verb; /Verb
Words in sentence/聽; 唔

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounAuxiliaryClause
Words in sentence講咩

 

Object of that sentence

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

 

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