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

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?  In this lesson, basic verbs and expressions showing you don’t understand something will be introduced.

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.

I don’t know in Cantonese: 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

I don’t understand in Cantonese: 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/

I don’t understand in Cantonese: 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/

 

That’s it for this Cantonese vocabulary lesson!  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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