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How to say sorry in Cantonese?
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How to say sorry in Cantonese?

No matter how can careful you are, mistakes will be made at some point in time.  Do you know how to apologize and say sorry in Cantonese?  In this lesson, two basic expressions for saying sorry in Cantonese will be introduced.  Both expressions 對唔住 [deoi3 m4 zyu6] and 唔好意思 [m4 hou2 ji3 si1] can be used for saying sorry.

Sorry in Cantonese: 唔好意思 [m4 hou2 ji3 si1]

There are two ways to say sorry in Cantonese.  For the first one, 唔好意思[m4 hou2 ji3 si1] should be used when you apologize for small things.

m4 hou2 ji3 si1 aa3

唔好意思啊。

I am sorry.

Types of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateParticle
Part of speech/ExpressionParticle
Words in sentence/唔好意思

 

zong6 dou2 nei5 zan1 hai6 m4 hou2 ji3 si1 aa3

撞倒你真係唔好意思啊。

I am really sorry that I bumped into you.

Types of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateParticle
Part of speechClauseAdverbExpressionParticle
Words in sentence撞倒你真係唔好意思

 

Subject of that sentence

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

 

倒 [dou2] is a phase complement(狀態補語).  To learn more about phase complement, you may refer to Unit 10 Lesson 2.

Predicate of that sentence

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

 

Sorry in Cantonese: 對唔住 [deoi3 m4 zyu6]

You can also use expression 對唔住 [deoi3 m4 zyu6] as sorry in Cantonese when you want to apologize for something serious.

deoi3 m4 zyu6 aa3

對唔住啊。

I am sorry.

Types of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateParticle
Part of speech/ExpressionParticle
Words in sentence/對唔住

 

Particle(助詞)啊 [aa3] can be used to soften a sentence.  To learn more about particle 啊 [aa3], you may refer to Unit 7 Lesson 9, Unit 8 Lesson 5 and Unit 12 Lesson 1.

zan1 hai6 hou2 deoi3 m4 zyu6 aa3

真係好對唔住啊。

I am really sorry.

Types of sentence structureSubject-predicative
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateParticle
Part of speech/Adverb; adverbExpressionParticle
Words in sentence/真係; 好對唔住

 

zou6 co3 si6 zau6 jiu3 tung4 jan4 gong2 deoi3 m4 zyu6

做錯事就要同人講對唔住。

You should say sorry if you have done something wrong.

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentenceComplex sentences
ComponentsSentence 1Sentence 2
True valueUnknownTrue
Words in sentence做錯事就要同人講對唔住

 

Sentence 1 of the sentence

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

 

錯 [co3] is used here as the resultative complement(結果補語).  To learn more about resultative complement, you may refer to Unit 10 Lesson 1.

Predicate of the sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speech/VerbAdjective
Words in sentence/

 

Sentence 2 of the sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateObject
Part of speech/AdverbAuxiliary verbVerb
Words in sentence/同人講對唔住

 

Adverb(副詞)就 [zau6] is used to indicate the consequence or the following action of a condition.

Object of the sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative expression in series
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicate 1Object 1Predicate 2Object 2
Part of speech/PrepositionNounVerbExpression
Words in sentence/對唔住

 

Preposition(介詞)同 [tung4] is used in predicative expression in series(連謂式)for indicating the object of an action.

zan1 hai6 hou2 deoi3 m4 zyu6 aa3,ngo5 zing2 m4 gin3 zo2 nei5 bou6 din6 waa2 aa3

真係好對唔住啊,我整唔見咗你部電話啊。

I am really sorry that I have lost your phone.

Composite sentences

Type of composite sentenceComplex sentences
ComponentsSentence 1Sentence 2
True valueTrueTrue
Words in sentence真係好對唔住啊我整唔見咗你部電話啊

 

Sentence 1 of the sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectAdverbialPredicateParticle
Part of speech/Adverb; AdverbExpressionParticle
Words in sentence/真係; 好對唔住

 

Sentence 2 of the sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicatePredicative suffixObjectParticle
Part of speechNounClausePredicative suffixNounParticle
Words in sentence整唔見你部電話

 

唔見 [m4 gin3] is used here as the resultative complement(結果補語).  To learn more about resultative complement, you may refer to Unit 10 Lesson 1.

Predicate of the sentence

Type of sentence structurePredicative-complement
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateComplement
Part of speech/VerbAdjective
Words in sentence/唔見

 

Object of that sentence

Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier你部
Head電話

Reference

  1. 粵典。「唔好意思
  2. 粵典。「對唔住

That’s it for this lesson on how to say sorry 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!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. appreciate your work very much

    1. Hi kw,

      Thank you so much for your appreciation! 如果可以的話,申請likecoin嘅account再畀個like支持我哋啦!
      https://like.co/ref/howtostudycantonese

      Hugo Sum
      Founder of How to study Cantonese

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