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U2L12 Telling directions in Cantonese

In this lesson, the way of telling directions in Cantonese will be introduced.  Do you know how to say left and right, inside and outside and East, South, West and North in Cantonese?  For telling directions in Cantonese, place words(方位詞) have to be used with positional modifier 邊 [bin1] or 面 [min6].

Place wordsMeanings
前 [cin4]in front of, before
後 [hau6]in behind, after
左 [zo2]left
右 [jau6]right
上 [soeng6]up
下 [haa6]down
裏 [leoi5]inside
外 [ngoi6]outside
入 [jap6]inside
出 [ceot1]outside
埋 [maai4]inside (Only can be used with 邊 [bin6])
側 [zak1]side (can be left or right)
東 [dung1]East
南 [naam4]South
西 [sai1]West
北 [bak1]North

Front and back in Cantonese: 前 [cin4] and 後 [hau6]

Front in Cantonese is 前 [cin4]and back in Cantonese is 後 [hau6].  These two words are only used with positional modifier 面 [min6].

Ngo5 hai2 nei5 cin4 min6

我喺你前面。

I am in your front.

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

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier
Head前面

 

Nei5 hai2 ngo5 hau6 min6

你喺我後面。

You are in my back.

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

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier
Head後面

Left and right in Cantonese: 左 [zo2] and 右 [jau6]

Left in Cantonese is 左 [zo2] and right in Cantonese is 右 [jau6].  These two words can be used with both positional modifier 邊 [bin1] and 面 [min6].

Ngo5 dei6 uk1 kei2 hai2 nei5 ge3 zo2 bin1

我哋屋企喺你嘅左邊。

Our home is on your left.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounVerbNoun
Words in sentence我哋屋企你嘅左邊

 

Subject of that sentence
Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier我哋
Head屋企

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier
Head左邊

Inside and outside in Cantonese: 入 [jap6], 裏 [leoi5], 埋 [maai4], 出 [ceot1] and 外 [ngoi6]

[jap6], [leoi5] and [maai4] means inside and [ceot1] and [ngoi6] means outside in Cantonese.

入 [jap6] and [leoi5] and 出 [ceot1] and 外 [ngoi6] are interchangeable and they are only used with positional modifier 面 [min6].

For 埋 [maai4], it can only be used with 邊 [bin6](Notice the tone has changed from 1 to 6 here).

Ngo5 hai2 tou4 syu1 gun2 ceot1 min6

我喺圖書館出面。

I’m outside the library.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounVerbNoun
Words in sentence圖書館出面

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier圖書館
Head出面

can4 lou5 si1 hai2 fo3 sat1 jap6 min6。

陳老師喺課室入面。

Mrs. Chan is inside the classroom.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounVerbNoun
Words in sentence陳老師課室入面

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier課室
Head入面

keoi5 hai2 ci3 so2 jap6 min6。

佢喺廁所入面。

She is inside the toilet.

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

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier廁所
Head入面

East, South, West and North in Cantonese: 東 [tung1], 南 [naam4], 西 [sai1] and 北 [bak1] in Cantonese

East, South, West and North in Cantonese is 東 [tung1], 南 [naam4], 西 [sai1] and 北 [bak1].  These words can be used with both positional modifier 邊 [bin1] and 面 [min6].

jat6 bun2 hai2 hoeng1 gong2 dung1 min6。

日本喺香港東面。

Japan is in the East of Hong Kong.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounVerbNoun
Words in sentence日本香港東面

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier香港
Head東面

hon4 gwok3 hai2 jat6 bun2 sai1 min6。

韓國喺日本西面。

Korea is in the West of Japan.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounVerbNoun
Words in sentence韓國日本西面

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier日本
Head西面

 

zung1 gwok3 hai2 hoeng1 gong2 ge3 bak1 bin1。

中國喺香港嘅北邊。

China is in the North of Hong Kong.

Type of sentence structurePredicative-object
Functions in sentenceSubjectPredicateObject
Part of speechNounVerbNoun
Words in sentence中國香港嘅北邊

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structureSubordination
Modifier香港
Head北邊

Reference

  1. 張洪年(2007)。香港粤語語法的研究(增訂版)。香港:中文大學出版社,頁 324-325。

That’s it for this lesson on telling directions 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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